Germany’s largest business magazine has published a feature story delving into EverWind Fuels’ “green hydrogen” project in Point Tupper, Nova Scotia.
The article, written by Karin Finkenzeller after a month-long trip to Canada that took her from Montreal to Cape Breton, including to Point Tupper to see for herself the status of the project, appeared in the June 18 edition of Wirtschafts Woche (Business Week).
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As the Halifax Examiner and The Energy Mix did last September, Finkenzeller found the green hydrogen claims confusing and overblown, to put it kindly.
In September last year, the Examiner partnered with The Mix on a two-part exposé about EverWind’s green hydrogen proposal and what the Examiner called the “hydrogen hyperbole epidemic” in Nova Scotia.
The Mix and the Examiner tried very hard, and mostly in vain, to pin down EverWind on where it would get all the “green” electricity it would need to produce all the “green hydrogen and ammonia” it claimed it would be producing and exporting to Europe in the first and second phase of the project.
In fact, we weren’t even able to find out exactly when the first phase would begin and end, although EverWind says it will start producing green hydrogen and selling 200,000 tonnes of ammonia per year by 2025.
Finkenzeller didn’t have much more success than we did.
“Green hydrogen from Canada looks more grey,” states the headline on the Wirtschafts Woche article.
The headline sets the tone for Finkenzeller’s analysis of EverWind’s proposal to produce “green” hydrogen at a plant it plans to build in Point Tupper, then transform that into “green ammonia” to ship to Europe. EverWind has signed memoranda of understanding with German utilities E.On and Uniper.
According to EverWind, the offtake agreements mean the company will eventually be selling and shipping a million tonnes of green ammonia to Germany every year.
“From 2026 and onwards, Uniper and E.On will each receive 500,000 tonnes per year,” Finkenzeller reports.
But how green will that hydrogen and ammonia really be? EverWind’s offtake agreements are supposed to be for “green hydrogen.”
Hydrogen is assigned colours based on how carbon-intensive its production is and how these relate to climate protection. The gas can only be called “green” when it is made using 100% renewable energy.
But when it comes to green hydrogen, Finkenzeller writes, “E.On and Uniper rely on the Canadian company EverWind. But whether their supplier will be able to draw on clean electricity in time for the hydrogen production is an open question—the only plentiful energy source involves coal.”
In other words, the hydrogen and ammonia that EverWind says it will be producing for export to Germany may not be made using 100% renewable energy and thus will not qualify as “green.”
Rather, Finkenzeller finds, at least for the foreseeable future, it could be made using energy that comes at least in part from fossil fuels—coal and natural gas—which makes it more carbon-intensive and “grey.”
This, despite persistent claims to the contrary by EverWind’s CEO Trent Vichie and spokesperson Ken Summers. Check out Summers’ comments at the end of this Halifax Examiner article, which he repeats under this article in The Energy Mix.
Finkenzeller says the plant for converting the hydrogen to ammonia does not yet even exist, “nor does the wind farm that is supposed to supply the necessary electricity.” “EverWind is currently building the largest wind farm in the Western Hemisphere to produce green hydrogen that is carbon-free and made from 100% renewable energy,” she continues, citing the company’s website. Next to the text are images of offshore wind turbines. The catch: there is not a single offshore wind turbine in all of Canada.
Finkenzeller adds that in May, EverWind published maps showing plans for onshore wind farms on 550 square kilometres of Crown land in Nova Scotia. But those proposed wind farms have not yet been registered for environmental assessment.
As did the Examiner and The Mix, Finkenzeller tried hard to get clear answers from EverWind about where all the renewable energy will come from for its “green” hydrogen before there is supply enough of either onshore or offshore wind. EverWind told her there would be “power purchase agreements” until the company has its own wind farms up and running, but did not say with whom those agreements would be signed.
If they are with the province’s private utility, Nova Scotia Power, they involve grid power. In 2021, less than 30% of the Nova Scotia Power grid was powered by renewable sources, and that figure includes 3% biomass, which is considered by many to be anything by green. Nearly half of the province’s power (47%) came from coal and 16% came from natural gas, neither of them suitable for producing “green” hydrogen or ammonia.
These uncertainties seem to have led to some skepticism among EverWind partners in Germany, Finkenzeller reports. “Uniper and E.On confirm that they are still checking whether, following the memoranda of understanding, contracts will be signed.”
Just atop the headline of Finkenzeller’s article about EverWind’s green hydrogen project are the words “Windiger Partner.”
The adjective “windiger” gives this phrase a double entendre, the Examiner says. It can be translated as “windy partner.”
But it can also mean “not trustworthy.”
This post appeared in the Halifax Examiner June 20. Republished with permission.