The EverWind Fuels project proposal for a “green hydrogen/ammonia” project at Point Tupper in Cape Breton is very long-winded.
On Dec. 9, EverWind submitted 951 pages separated into 11 separate documents to Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change (NSECC) for environmental assessment of phase one of the project.
EverWind says the project’s first phase will consist of a 300-megawatt (MW) hydrogen plant, a production plant that can produce 600 tonnes of ammonia per day, a transmission interconnection line to bring energy to the plants, and a marine pipeline to carry liquid ammonia to shipping vessels.
The ammonia is primarily for export to Europe.
In this hype–heavy introduction to the project in the environmental assessment (EA) submission, EverWind states:
The purpose of the Project is to produce Certified Green hydrogen and ammonia to support the global demand for agricultural fertilizer products while reducing the carbon footprint of conventional ammonia production methods. In addition to producing ammonia for the worldwide market, the Project will be Nova Scotia’s first green hydrogen and ammonia production facility and will help to unlock the province’s green economy potential, demonstrate the region’s leadership in developing environmentally friendly technologies, and make strides towards building a more sustainable future.
No mention of another obvious purpose of the project, namely to make a fair bit of money for EverWind CEO Trent Vichie, an Australian now living in New York, whose background is in private equity.
EverWind Fuels is also on the lookout for public money and perks.
The company has eight lobbyists in Nova Scotia and four lobbyists doing the rounds in Ottawa. It has applied for a federal “Strategic Action Fund – Net Zero Accelerator loan under the Call to Action program” and it “wishes to engage the government on potential funding under the Net Zero Accelerator Fund or other funding mechanisms as appropriate.”
In a November press release, EverWind welcomed the news that the federal government was bringing in a 40% tax credit for “clean hydrogen,” a 30% tax credit for “clean technology,” and establishing a $15 billion Canada growth fund that would apply to “low-carbon hydrogen.”
In the EA documents, EverWind describes itself as a “leader in producing green hydrogen and ammonia,” although the company was just created in February 2022 and definitely hasn’t produced any hydrogen or ammonia yet. The EverWind Fuels website shows the Nova Scotia project is its only one.
EverWind Fuels Company may be registered in Nova Scotia and call itself “Nova Scotia based,” but as Mary Campbell has reported in the Cape Breton Spectator, EverWind Fuels LLC is a subsidiary of something called TDL Partners with a Texas address.
Commenting ends Jan. 18, 2023
EverWind’s green hydrogen and ammonia project is undergoing a Class 1 environmental assessment, the much shorter and less demanding of two kinds of EAs in Nova Scotia.
Unlike the more intensive Class II assessment that can take more than two years and involve much more public consultation, Class I EAs require no environmental report and the period for public consultation is just 30 days.
This means that anyone who wishes to comment on the EverWind Fuels project has to do so by Jan. 18, 2023, not much time to wade through nearly 1,000 pages of documents.
For all its long-windedness, the EverWind EA submission for phase one of its Point Tupper project doesn’t clearly define what phase one actually is.
The EA registration document offers this cryptic statement about the project time frame:
EverWind expects to reach financial close on the first part of the Project in 2023, representing green hydrogen produced by Certified Green grid-power, which is critical to ensure this billion-dollar Project is fully developed and construction commences.
Nor does the EA submission say how much green energy it will need to produce the “certified green” hydrogen and ammonia, and where all that energy will come from.
When the Halifax Examiner asked Vichie similar questions in interviews and emails in September 2022, some of his answers were contradictory and confusing.
Now that EverWind has registered its project for environmental assessment, the Examiner again contacted Vichie for answers to these questions. He didn’t reply, but EverWind Fuels vice president for corporate affairs, Lynn Hammond, did send an email with some information, and links to numerous technical and academic publications.
As for the project time frame, Hammond offered no details and instead pointed to the small table (below) from the registration document, which doesn’t provide any information on when phase one starts or ends.
Nor did Hammond answer the question of how much energy will be required for the hydrogen and ammonia production (per unit and in total) in phase one, and how much green hydrogen and ammonia EverWind will produce per year. Rather, Hammond said they would be posting numbers on the website that would “address” the question.
‘Green’ hydrogen requires ‘green’ energy
If the hydrogen and ammonia are to be “green” the energy used to produce them has to be 100% from renewables.
The EverWind submission to Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change states:
For the Project to be Certified Green, the electricity supplied for the Project will be supplied by Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NS Power) primarily from newly-built wind farms, supplemented by additional renewable, low impact sources which may include, wave, tide, run-of-the-river hydraulic, solar, or other acceptable renewable energy sources. The Proponent will enter into a commercial agreement with NS Power, such that the electricity supplied to the Project will be verified/certified to be originating from renewable energy sources.
Since NS Power will provide the electrical power through Certified Green energy supplied via the Project’s Transmission Interconnection Line and associated northern and southern substations, the ammonia production process is cleaner than traditional production methods, and lower GHG emissions will be achieved.
A table in the EA registration says that the “estimated average daily power consumption” of the project would be 4,500-5,000 megawatt hours (MWh), and estimated 8,400 MWh at peak capacity from the “Nova Scotia Power Grid.”
However, the EA submission doesn’t specify when that would begin, or provide details on total amounts of production and energy requirements.
The Examiner asked Nova Scotia Power where the certified green energy will come from, how much it will supply to EverWind, and what that represents in the province’s total production of energy from renewables.
Spokesperson Jacqueline Foster’s reply:
This is an evolving area of compliance. We are working with customers to understand their needs and looking at what options might be available to support provision of this requirement. We understand hydrogen developers anticipate building much of their own new renewable energy as part of their project development.
According to Foster, as of June 2022, the energy mix on the Nova Scotia Power grid was 41% coal, 16% natural gas and oil, 6% non-renewable purchased power imported from other jurisdictions, and 37% renewables (mainly hydro and wind).
So, quite a long way to go before the Nova Scotia grid gets off coal and before the province has a surfeit of renewable green energy for its own domestic needs, let alone for producing green ammonia for export.
In a text message on Sept. 2, 2022, Vichie told the Examiner the first phase of the project would start in 2025 and EverWind would produce 200,000 tonnes of ammonia, and that phase two would start in 2026 and produce one million tonnes per year.
In September this year, the Examiner spoke about the energy needs for hydrogen production with Larry Hughes, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Dalhousie University and a founding fellow of the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance.
Hughes said that Nova Scotia’s total electrical demand is between 10,000 and 11,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year, and questioned where EverWind would get the green energy needed — about 12,000 GWh — to produce a million tonnes of green hydrogen and ammonia.
In an email to the Halifax Examiner, Hughes says those figures still hold.
He says if EverWind needs 4,500 to 5,000 megawatt hours (MWh) per day, that amounts to 1.6 to 1.8 terawatt hours (TWh) per year.
This means that this single hydrogen and ammonia project would account for about 15% of Nova Scotia’s total annual production of about 11 TWh, according to Hughes.
“Also, it will not come close to the volume of electricity they require for one million tonnes of ammonia,” Hughes says. Rather, it “would come close” to producing only 150,000 tonnes of ammonia a year.
Nor would all the energy be “green.”
Asked whether he thinks Nova Scotia Power has the capacity to provide EverWind the certified green energy required to produce one million tonnes of green ammonia by 2026, Hughes replies “No, not at all.”
The energy equation doesn’t add up
As mentioned earlier, EverWind’s Lynn Hammond didn’t answer questions about how much hydrogen and ammonia the company would produce in phase one or per year. Instead, she provided information only on how much energy would be needed per kilogram (kg), writing:
The energy intensity to make green ammonia is expected to be approximately 11 – 12 KWh per 1 kilogram of NH3 [ammonia]. The vast majority of this is to make green hydrogen. Hydrogen production is approximately 52 KWh per kilogram of H2 [hydrogen].
Hughes scales this up, pointing out that if it takes 10-12 MWh to produce a tonne of ammonia, and EverWind wishes to produce 600 tonnes of ammonia per day (the capacity of its ammonia plant), it will take 6,000 to 7,200 MWh to produce 219,000 tonnes per year.
Thus, Hughes says, “The annual energy (electricity) requirements range from 2,190 to 2,628 GWh. This is 20% to 25% of Nova Scotia Power’s 10,500 GWh annual production.”
To get to one million tonnes of ammonia, Hughes adds, Everwind would require 12,000 GWh (assume 12 MWh/tonne).
“This is about 20% more than all Nova Scotia Power’s current production,” he says.
Answers blowing in the wind
In her email to the Examiner, Hammond writes, “Power for EverWind’s initial phase will be coming from newly built wind farms connected to the grid and specifically allocated to the Project through a Power Purchase Agreement.”
She did not say where those new wind farms would be.
Wind farms require a lot of land and also require environmental assessments, even wind farms far smaller than those required to produce the amount of energy EverWind would need to produce a million tonnes of green ammonia a year.
In April this year, Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change Minister Timothy Halman requested numerous additional studies for a modestly-sized 12-turbine, 50 MW wind farm proposed for Westchester, Nova Scotia.
Hughes calculates that to produce 600 tonnes of green ammonia per day for a year, EverWind would need from 91 to 109 large 6.1 MW wind turbines running at 45% capacity factor (the percentage of time they are producing at full power).
But if EverWind is going to produce a million tonnes of ammonia per year as it says it will, Hughes says it will need between 400 and 500 turbines.
Today there are just over 300 commercial wind turbines generating electricity in the province for Nova Scotia Power.
Hughes notes that the total installed capacity of 400 – 500 turbines would be less than five gigawatts, which is the province’s recently-announced offshore wind target.
But the province aims to offer those offshore leases by 2030, five years after EverWind says it will start producing green hydrogen and ammonia.
Hughes points out that Nova Scotia’s aim is also to wean itself off coal by 2030, something that seems “very unlikely” without the eastern leg of the Atlantic Loop from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia.
Claims about reducing greenhouse gas emissions
In its submission to NSECC, EverWind makes lofty claims about helping Nova Scotia and Canada tackle climate change by reducing greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions:
… the green hydrogen/ammonia produced by the Project will contribute significantly to Nova Scotia and Canada’s GHG emission reduction goals by reducing GHG emissions by an expected 1.5 million tonnes per year by 2030. GHG reductions will be realized through the following commitments: 1. Developing a plan for green hydrogen and green fuel supply to the province. 2. MOU with NS Power for the provision of green hydrogen to reduce CO2 emissions.
Hughes says these figures do not look realistic to him, adding:
Anyone can develop a “plan.” The province plans to have a hydrogen plan. Good to know that they’re relying on EverWind to give them an impartial view of the subject.
What does NSP [Nova Scotia Power] need hydrogen for? Hydrogen is used in industry and agriculture, and to a far lesser extent, transportation (it won’t be used for electricity in Germany, instead it will be used to displace industrial natural gas that can then be used in other sectors). I assume the hydrogen could be stored for later use by NSP, but there might be other ways of storing electricity (batteries? Pumped storage? Heat?)
And of course, the fact remains that the ammonia is largely for export, and for the hydrogen and ammonia to be “green” the energy used to produce them must be 100% green.
Hughes says that in 2021 Nova Scotia Power produced 3.1 terawatt hours from renewables, and that EverWind wants 1.6 to 1.8 terawatt hours. That, he notes, “is more than half” of Nova Scotia Power’s current green energy production.
That question: “Where will the energy come from?”
It’s not one that EverWind answers in its environmental assessment documents or in its answers to questions from the Halifax Examiner.