Corner Brook the ideal location for manufacturing plant: Beothuk Energy

Diane Crocker
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Kirby Mercer announced plans by Beothuk Energy Inc. to manufacture offshore wind farm gravity based structures at the Port of Corner Brook at the Glynmill Inn on Friday.

CORNER BROOK  Corner Brook’s ideal location is one of the reasons Beothuk Energy plans to set up a manufacturing facility at the local port.

The St. John’s-based company plans to manufacture offshore wind farm gravity-based structures at the port. According to Kirby Mercer, president and chief executive officer of Beothuk Energy, construction of the first structures to begin in about two years. He said the announcement comes after about two years of preparation.  

Not only is the Corner Brook Port  close to the energy markets the company is going after, it’s also on tide water, and Mercer figures the cost to ship the structures to the wind farm locations will be very small. He was in Corner Brook on Friday to announce the plan for the facility.

“We’ve done feasibility studies on everything from marine transmission capacities in the Maritimes and in the United States,” said Mercer, following the announcement.

He also said that a lot of pre-engineering and design work on the structures has already been completed.

Right now, Mercer said Beothuk and the Corner Brook Port Corporation are in the evaluation and preplanning stages of identifying a suitable port location for development as a manufacturing facility.

“The final design for the port won’t be finalized until we come up with our final design for our gravity-based structures and how we’re going to mate everything onshore,” said Mercer. “We’re going to be able to avail of existing businessess and resources outside of the dock which will cut down on the exact size that we need.”

Mercer said the majority of the work on the structures will be done outside in a yard setting, similar to Bull Arm. The structures will be built, stored on the dock and then rolled out to the dockside to be shipped off to wind farms. Parts like the turbines and blades will be imported and mated with the structures onshore before shipping.

The next stage of the project will also involve completing any environmental assessments and securing the permits needed to get the manufacturing facility in place and operating. Mercer said this stage will involve more detailed engineering plans and design of both the structures and the site.

And he’s confident the project will pass any assessments and requirements that it has to.

“The only thing is we’re being a pathfinder. We’ll be the first doing that, so that always comes with challenges, breaking new ground. But it’s clean, green energy and there’s a big appetite for that now, so I think that’s in our favour.”

Mercer said the company already has several potential buyers for the structures.

As the project moves ahead, Mercer said Beothuk will likely have an office presence in the city and expects there will be some hiring taking place over the next little while in terms of the engineering piece of the project.

Then there will likely be more job opportunities as the site preparation begins and once manufacturing starts, Mercer said there is the potential to see 600 new jobs created in the city. He noted some will be in the areas of engineering and design, but the bulk will be related to the plant.

In addition to the manufacturing plant, Beothuk is also proposing an offshore demonstration wind park that will generate 180 megawatts of green electricity. The park will be located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, covering an area of 40 square kilometres.

It will have 30, six-megawatt turbines and the capital cost will be approximately $400 million. Generated electricity is projected to cost less than 10 cents per kilowatt hour.

Organizations: Beothuk Energy, Corner Brook Port

Geographic location: Corner Brook Port, United States

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Recent comments

  • Supernan 2012
    September 27, 2013 - 10:20

    Its about time- Corner Brook really needs more opportunities for employment like this...Maybe this will keep some of our younger generation in Corner Brook; Rather than on the next plane to Fort-Mac

  • Justin
    September 25, 2013 - 15:51

    Offshore wind turbine generation is a well-established technology, with such installations in place for over 20 years. Europe is far ahead of North America in its use of offshore wind, which is why this might seem "risky" to us. But this is definitely an industry poised to experience exponential growth. For example, the largest offshore wind farm in the world is the London Array in the UK, which generates 630MW using 175 turbines, and another in-development UK project aims to create a 9000MW farm. To those asking "why not on land?", apparently the winds are higher and more consistent over the water. Also, a very important factor for Newfoundland, there's a vastly reduced potential for NIMBY-based protest.

    • Buster Garvick
      September 27, 2013 - 19:02

      Do you have any idea what the population density in the UK/Europe is compared to North America? Land is at a premium there, hardly enough left for a dog to bury a bone. That in part makes European offshore wind turbines economically viable. Also, those wind farms are developed in marine regions where there's no sea-ice to deal with. This proposal has all the signs of another taxpayer-funded boondoggle.

  • Will Cole
    September 23, 2013 - 18:48

    Offshore wind turbines? With all the open, uninhabited, windswept terrain available right on the interior of the island, this individual is talking about deploying his wind turbines in one of the harshest marine environments on the face of the planet?? That doesn't seem quite rational to me. Needless to say, I'd be reluctant to invest a glove-compartment's worth of Canadian Tire money in such a risky "venture".

  • Mike
    September 22, 2013 - 04:07

    I'm of two minds on this one. Firstly, I'm very glad to see energy companies start seriously looking into one of Newfoundland's great untapped renewable resources. This province is considered to have some of the strongest wind locations in the world, so wind farms should have been a no-brainer long ago. That being said, having a wind farm so close to a major metropolitan area has me worried. These turbines are huge and from what I have heard and read, can be very loud and can potentially cause headache problems in people because of the constant noise and rapidly shifting shadow patterns during daylight hours. I don't want to say this is a bad idea because of it, but I think placing wind farms in more isolated areas like the Blow Me Down stretch of Frenchman's Cove or the Wreckhouse might be better locations to start with.

    • Blunt
      September 23, 2013 - 12:22

      I think their plan is to build gravity based wind farms for retail to other countries (USA) or areas, not to set them up for energy production here.

    • Blunt
      September 23, 2013 - 12:23

      I think their plan is to build gravity based wind farms for retail to other countries (USA) or areas, not to set them up for energy production here.

    • Devil's Advocate
      September 23, 2013 - 12:26

      I guess you missed the part where he said "...Gulf of St. Lawrence" is where they would be building the demo farm. The rest of the wind turbines made at the "manufacturing facility" are " be shipped off to wind farms." Did you read the article? I am glad to hear even talk of such a project in Corner Brook, it's a no brainer to harvest Newfoundland's constant wind energy. We should be developing tidal energy also.

  • Tony
    September 21, 2013 - 17:37

    How much money is the NL government pumping into this plan???

  • Believe It When You See It
    September 21, 2013 - 15:46

    He's one of those CIVC oil guys. How's that mega-project working out??

  • Frank Tock
    September 21, 2013 - 07:31

    A telling indicator as to the viability of this potentially risky scheme is how much of his own money Mr. Mercer will be investing in it. I'll stick with mutual funds and Avalon-based real estate investments, thank you very much. On another note, that garish-looking company logo has more than a passing resemblance to the artwork of Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee.