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Western Newfoundland Becoming a “Rock Solid” Investment for Offshore Wind Energy

Generation Energy is profiling representatives from the energy sector to understand how they use innovation and technology to support opportunities for a low-carbon future.

The Future of Wind Energy in Newfoundland

“The future for offshore wind energy is now,” says Kirby Mercer, Chairman & CEO of Beothuk Energy Inc. “There will be a major shift in 5-10 years with a lot of oil and gas companies buying offshore wind and renewables. It’s a new age business. It’s the future, but it’s also here right now.”

Entrepreneurs like Mercer are striving to promote change and create a Canada with affordable, reliable, green energy. Through Beothuk, Kirby is developing a $1-billion offshore wind farm in Western Newfoundland to help meet increasing demand for clean energy in Atlantic Canada and the Eastern United States.

There is a great opportunity to kick start offshore wind energy in Western Newfoundland because of the constant wind and shallow water for installing wind farms. The recently announced manufacturing site in the Port of Corner Brook is also great for building gravity-based structures due to its shallow water.

“Western Newfoundland is an ideal place to develop offshore wind energy because of the natural environment, existing infrastructure and engineering expertise,” says Mercer.

Offshore Wind Farms in the Bay of Fundy
Offshore Wind Farms in the Bay of Fundy

How do you see Canada’s Energy landscape changing?

“What we’ve been doing for the last few decades with utilities is broken. How they’ve been operating and what is on the balance sheet will not last. Some of these companies have invested in older dirty technology,” says Mercer.

The Eastern United States expects approximately 86 Gigawatts in offshore wind by 2050 and Atlantic Canada is well positioned to deliver it. With many states like Massachusetts are really pushing to move toward a green economy, Newfoundland could be a major provider of this energy significantly helping their economy.

How is your work influencing that change?

Beothuk Energy, along with other renewable energy developments, are influencing government policy.

“Our work is being recognized on the international stage. Some of our proposals are influencing government policy on marine tidal and offshore wind development,” said Mercer.

The federal and provincial governments have recently developed policies to look more at renewables for several reasons. With carbon pricing coming soon and the need to get off coal power in parts of Atlantic Canada, wind energy will give us the capacity to get off the old energy mix.

What does your vision of Canada’s energy future look like?

Mercer sees a future in which electricity transmission and storage across Canada becomes a major preoccupation and communities will want their own renewable energy generating capacity.

“There will be community-based movements toward green energy. Communities will want to generate renewable energy like companies such as Amazon and Google have gone completely green today.”

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