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Kirby Mercer still confident western Newfoundland can be a player in offshore wind energy development

Kirby Mercer.
Kirby Mercer. - Star file photo

Kirby Mercer says a successful wind power project bid by a group including Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners is not at all bad news for efforts to develop the industry in western Newfoundland.

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) is one of the partners with Mercer and his company, Beothuk Energy Inc., that is working towards establishing wind farms and a fabrication facility in Atlantic Canada.

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The Scandinavian company is also a partner in Vineyard Wind, which recently won a bid to negotiate contracts for an 800-megawatt offshore wind farm to be established off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Mercer is the president of Atlantic Canada Offshore Developments, a partnership between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Beothuk Energy. He has said he would like to have a fabrication facility built at the port in Corner Brook that would manufacture gravity-based structures for wind turbines to be installed in Bay St. George and other locations in Atlantic Canada.

He still stands by that.

“I think this is extremely positive news,” Mercer said of the successful bid by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners in the United States. “It shows us that offshore wind energy is about to emerge in North America and that CIP are leaders in the field that have opportunities globally.”

The Vineyard Wind project, which will produce as much power as the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador, will be the first large-scale offshore wind farm built in the United States. Mercer said it positions CIP — and Atlantic Canada Offshore Developments — to pursue more opportunities in the North American market, including Atlantic Canada.

“This is the way of the future and it’s here now,” said Mercer. “I’m delighted that these are our partners and, for some who may not have known who CIP were, this may be a bit of an eye-opener.”

He said Atlantic Canada Offshore Developments is diligently pursuing opportunities in all four Atlantic Canadian provinces. He wouldn’t get into the specifics of any negotiations with either province, noting there as still much more work to be done.

“We are encouraged by the progress we are making,” he said. “Only time will tell, but there is a pathway and there is a market to do what we are doing.”

Atlantic Canada Offshore Developments recently had a feasibility study done by the Conference Board of Canada on developing the offshore wind industry in Atlantic Canada. Mercer would not provide a copy of the report, but said it confirms around 1,000 jobs could be created in the construction phase and more than 100 in the operational phases of a wind farm.

He said it would contribute more than $2.2 billion into the local economy.

While he would prefer to have that fabrication facility in western Newfoundland, Mercer said it would go to the region that wants it the most.

He’s confident Atlantic Canada is ripe for offshore wind energy and it will happen eventually.

“We’ve got the right type of partners to stick with us for the long haul to make this happen,” he said.

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