Six Nations back study that could see old Nanticoke power plant go green

By the editors of Turtle Island News

SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND RIVER – Despite strong opposition from misinformed advisers, Six Nations will support a feasibility study for clean hydrogen production in Nanticoke.

Matt Jamieson, President and CEO of Six Nations of the Grand River Economic Development Corporation (SNGREDC) and David Zekveld, Director of Hydrogen Business Development at Atura Power presented a possible 50% partnership in a production company green hydrogen project in Nanticoke at the General Council Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 10, but first the potential partners needed federal approval for a grant for a feasibility study.

The Board approved that Atura apply for a federal grant of $900,000 to fund 75% of the feasibility study through its NRCan Aboriginal Stream, which requires 50% participation from the Aboriginal community. Atura would fund the remaining 25%, leaving Six Nations at no cost, so the choice to participate or not will cost the community nothing.

The goal is to build a facility in Nanticoke’s power generation area, adjacent to the 44 megawatt Nanticoke Solar Park, which Six Nations co-owns. They hope to use this solar energy to power a 44 megawatt hydrogen facility.

Zekveld said using clean energy to create hydrogen creates low-carbon hydrogen. They would use municipal water and split it with solar electricity into oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen would be released into the atmosphere, while the hydrogen could be used in many different industries. Zekveld said that once hydrogen energy is extracted from water, water, the company will recombine the elements and release clean water where it came from.

“Hydrogen is widely seen as the energy carrier of the future. With the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the EU is moving towards green hydrogen as a substitute for Russian oil and gas,” Zekveld said.

Hydrogen power is currently one of Canada’s priorities to achieve its goal of net zero carbon by 2050, and it is also part of the goal of Ontario Power Generation (the parent company of Atura), to achieve net zero carbon by 2040.

Hydrogen has the potential to power long-haul industrial vehicles, complement natural gas for heating; it has applications in heavy industry sectors, such as steel and concrete production.

Jamieson said the facility has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 34,000 tonnes per year. Zekveld added that this equates to around 8,000 cars.

Atura is also building a 20 megawatt hydrogen electrolyser plant in Niagara.

Councilor Wendy Johnson strongly opposed approval of the feasibility study, saying she didn’t know enough about hydrogen power and hadn’t had time to research on the subject.

“We’ve only had the agenda for a day or two, so that doesn’t give us much time to review it. From what you presented [SNGREDC] had a thorough dialogue. It would be wonderful if we had the same opportunity, or if we could bring information to each other in the preliminary stages, so that we have some understanding, so that we can be prepared when the presentations come to the table, rather than having 24 hours to absorb and make a decision on how to move forward,” she said.

Jamieson told SNEC that the feasibility study would help answer any questions the board had and let them know if it was a viable business and more.

“Yes [the feasibility study grant] is not approved, then we terminate the agreement, if we are funded and come up with a result based on the feasibility study to tell us if the project is viable, we can decide to proceed with phase two. The first thing is to file an application so we know what the opportunity is and what the impacts might be,” he said.

Johnson was also opposed to entering into a partnership with the company without having a concrete understanding on the part of the company that Six Nations owns. She also took issue with Atura engaging with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, but not explaining how much each First Nation would own.

“The share can go up to 50%. We have no commitment from the Mississaugas as to their participation. We can approve the motion to go forward without having confirmation, we approve it and they come back and say they want 40%, does that leave us with 10%?

Councilor Sherri-Lynn Hill Pierce objected to the study because she wanted to know if the company was financially sound.

Councilors Audrey Powless-Bomberry and Melba Thomas said pursuing the study request is a necessary first step to getting their questions answered, with little to no engagement from Six Nations.

“I think we should definitely have faith, if possible, in our people presenting, like Matt [Jamieson]. We need to move forward with education, awareness and be educated on the benefits, have legal scrutiny. This is all here that we ask to understand the outcomes that will occur, if we have a feasibility study,” Thomas said.

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