A Nova Scotia renewable hydrogen project received a fiscal shot in the arm from the federal government on Friday, signalling Ottawa’s continued push to establish a sector for the fuel ahead of the Canada-European Union Summit being held in St. John’s next week.
EverWind Fuels LLC has already invested around $200-million in its project in Point Tupper. Chief executive Trent Vichie says it’s the most advanced project in North America, and will likely see first production in early 2026. EverWind is also pursuing a green fuels project on the Burin Peninsula, on the south coast of Newfoundland.
In August last year, the Canadian and German governments signed a deal to co-operate on exporting hydrogen fuel to Europe. The agreement set an ambitious target: Begin shipments from Eastern Canada in 2025.
Mr. Vichie said in an interview Friday that the $125-million loan through Export Development Canada will help sustain the momentum of the Point Tupper project while Ottawa finalizes the investment tax credits for hydrogen that it announced in its 2023 budget.
The timing of the announcement is also significant as Canadian and EU leaders prepare to gather in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Vichie added.
“I think it’s important to show, when you have groups of leaders that come together, that there are tangible milestones,” he said.
“Support helps build political will, because it takes it from theoretical to real examples of how this is going to work.”
As a fuel, hydrogen is light, storable and energy-dense. When burned, it produces no direct emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases, making it an attractive prospect for decarbonization.
While it’s enjoying unprecedented momentum around the globe, increasing equipment and financial costs are putting projects at risk and reducing the impact of government support, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA).
Still, hydrogen demand reached a historical high in 2022, and use of the fuel hit 95 megatonnes (Mt) – a nearly 3-per-cent increase year-on-year, with strong growth in all major consuming regions except Europe. Annual production of low-emission hydrogen could reach 38 Mt in 2030 if all announced projects are realized, according to the IEA’s 2023 hydrogen report.
EverWind is targeting 1 Mt production a year in the initial phases of the Point Tupper project, with the potential to hit upward of 10 Mt when it’s fully complete. The multi-phase project is expected to generate more than 3,300 permanent jobs, and the company says its wind farm will be the largest in the Western Hemisphere when it is completed.
Alongside Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Sean Fraser, as he made the announcement Friday, were the chiefs of three local First Nations that are equity and development partners in the project: Membertou, Paqtnkek and Potlotek.
Chief Terry Paul of Membertou First Nation said in a statement that the development of the project has set an example for “how partnership and economic reconciliation should be done.”
Mr. Vichie said EverWind would not be where it is today without such strong Indigenous partners.
“I think we’re a shining example of what economic reconciliation looks like, and also the environmental stewardship that having First Nation partners and their seven generations view of the world brings. We are blessed to have such great partners,” he said.