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  • Joan Baxter, Halifax Examiner

Ecology Action Centre slams use of wind farms to produce ‘green hydrogen’ for export

Updated: 4 days ago

The Ecology Action Centre has issued a statement on “wind energy, land use and green hydrogen production in Nova Scotia,” and it has concerns — plenty of them — about the use of energy from land-based wind facilities to produce that “green hydrogen.”
In a press release this morning, David Neira, energy coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre (EAC), said, “There’s no question that Nova Scotia urgently needs to build renewable energy infrastructure. But that infrastructure must first be used to offer clean, affordable electricity for Nova Scotians and their families.”
“In order to protect future generations, our priority must be to get Nova Scotia off fossil fuels — the main driver of climate change — not the creation of hydrogen and ammonia for export overseas,” said Neira.“
It’s our position that energy produced through local wind projects should first be used to create clean, affordable electricity for Nova Scotia’s grid or shared directly with regional neighbours,” reads the EAC statement.
The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) statement continues:
Nova Scotia has a limited landmass and an already degraded and fragmented environment. We must be strategic and principles in how we use available land and what effect this may have on our natural environment and our communities. With this in mind, we’re concerned that the latest network of land-based wind projects has been earmarked to power and export-based hydrogen and ammonia industry instead of greening our electricity grid here at home. We’re critical of how this industry will support increased community and ecological resilience, let alone help create clean, affordable energy solutions for Nova Scotian households.
Karen McKendry, EAC’s senior wilderness outreach coordinator, cautioned that the wind projects need to be built in “appropriate areas and in ways that minimize negative effects on our environment and communities.” 
“The best way to do this is through a comprehensive land-use strategy and a thorough environmental assessment process — both of which are sorely lacking in Nova Scotia,” said McKendry.
Weakening’ environmental assessments
The EAC is also critical of the “weakening of requirements” for wind projects going through the Nova Scotia environmental assessment (EA) process, saying:
Whether a project is an open pit mine or wind farm, it will inevitably have negative impacts on natural features like forests, wetlands and wildlife habitat. The EA process is meant to foresee these impacts and require that the project’s proponent reduce any negative impacts. It is also an opportunity to set terms and conditions that require ongoing engagement, mitigation and monitoring of environmental impacts throughout a project’s lifetime.  
We’re concerned by the trend of wind farm projects being approved despite having increasingly weak EA submissions and project-specific terms and conditions. We’re seeing this trend escalate as projects intended to power industrial scale hydrogen and ammonia for export become increasingly common.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Timothy Halman has already approved two of EverWind’s wind projects. One, its 15-turbine, 89 megawatt project at Bear Lake near the intersection of West Hants, Chester and Halifax Municipalities, is encountering local opposition, as Jennifer Henderson has reported for the Halifax Examiner.
The second is the 98-megawatt, 16-turbine Kmtnuk Wind Power Project in Colchester County.
EverWind has yet to submit its environmental assessment documents for its second, even more massive Windy Ridge project in Colchester County.
The Windy Ridge project will be mostly on Northern Pulp land purchased in 2010 with a $75 million loan from the province, which is not being repaid while Northern Pulp is under creditor protection in the British Columbia Supreme Court.
The 340-megatwatt Windy Ridge project will comprise 58 turbines, and it has already generated opposition in the area, as the Halifax Examiner reported here
EverWind Fuels is also planning another giant wind farm with more than 300 turbines on Crown land in Guysborough County. On its website, the company has boasted this will be “the largest onshore wind farm in the Western Hemisphere.”
EAC ‘disheartened’ by ongoing issues
The EAC statement also notes that community and environmental concerns are being overlooked in the haste to promote “green” hydrogen production in the province:
As our province explores the prospect of a green hydrogen industry, we find ourselves disheartened by ongoing issues expressed by communities. These include a lack of community involvement, unclear responses to concerns and incomplete surveys regarding endangered species and our environment’s well-being. The EAC urges decision makers to reconsider their land-use priorities and focus on land-based wind projects that support positive change while safeguarding our ecosystems and communities.I
n conclusion, the EAC statement says it “firmly believes that while urgently transitioning away from fossil fuels is essential, it must be done in support of our environment and not in spite of it.”The issues raised in the EAC statement may be familiar to Halifax Examiner readers. For the past year and a half, we have reported extensively on “green hydrogen” hype and projects in Nova Scotia, which some have dubbed “subsidy-harvesting” or “subsidy-layering” schemes. For more background, here are a few of those articles:

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