Wind-powered hydrogen development possibility near Prince Rupert

A new hydrogen development possibility powered by wind energy is being investigated by the City of Prince Rupert, Legacy Inc. and two Ts’msyen First Nations under a memorandum of understanding with Pattern Energy.

In the agreement, Prince Rupert, Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla committed to look for opportunities that will benefit all partners, economically speaking, the city stated in a press release on Nov. 4.

As a next step, a working group will examine how much and the type of energy needed to supply a hydrogen plant including how a Prince Rupert plant would fit in the global energy sector.

“Lax Kw’alaams Band is very excited about the opportunity to participate in this potential development and more so to participate in the global green energy industry,” Garry Reece, mayor of Lax Kw’alaams stated.

The proposed plant would produce hydrogen through electrolysis (splitting of water) using renewable wind energy, the press release stated.

Pattern Energy has developed more than 10 wind energy projects across the country and they are majority owned by the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.

“Green hydrogen is the new frontier that will lead the world’s growing commitment to clean energy,” Frank Davis, assistant vice president of green hydrogen for Pattern Energy stated. “Together with Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams First Nations, the City of Prince Rupert, Prince Rupert Legacy, BC Hydro, and the Province of British Columbia, we have the opportunity to create good-paying local jobs and enhance BC’s economy.”

Supporting Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams First Nations is Pattern Energy’s priority, David said.

The City of Prince Rupert believes that its proximity to Asian markets, as well as road, rail and marine access, make it an ideal location to build a green energy plant.

“This agreement is a commitment from local partners to grow and diversify our economy within a sustainable footprint, with equitable outcomes,” Lee Brain, outgoing Prince Rupert mayor stated.

“As a coastal community, Rupertites value our natural environment, so we want the industry we pursue to support those values going forward.”

There may be further support for this type of initiative from the provincial government. As of March 31, 2022, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation announced it was opening a new office to expand hydrogen projects by streamlining the process from proposal to construction.

Kaitlyn Bailey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View