Corner Brook the ideal location for manufacturing plant: Beothuk Energy

Diane Crocker dcrocker@thewesternstar.com
Published on September 21, 2013
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.
Star photo by Diane Crocker

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.