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Never say never to a wind farm on Hecate Strait

Never say never to a wind farm on Hecate Strait

For the past 14 years, Nai Kun has been attempting to get a wind farm established in the Hecate Strait and have met with one roadblock after another, but there now may be light at the end of the tunnel for the persistent company.

The company has announced a deal with a Danish company dong energy.

While the Nai Kun project has provincial and federal approval to set up to 40 turbines east of Graham Island, the company first ran into trouble after BC Hydro failed to include it in their clean energy push in 2010. Then, the following year the Haida Nation decided not to get involved in a business arrangement with the company. But in 2014 Nai Kun got an extension by the environmental assessment office to delay construction for another five years.

Dong Energy operates 22 offshore farms in Europe. The deal with Nai Kun involved the signing of a letter of intent to pursue the development of the Hecate Strait project. Michael O’Connor president and CEO of Nai Kun noted dong is the largest offshore wind developer in the world. He also noted Nai Kun is partnered up with Seimans which is the worlds largest manufacturer of turbines.

O’Connor says the BC farm could see construction start in two years- if they get a contract with hydro. Nai Kun still has to convince the Haida the project is worth backing. Lawrence Jones the former chair of the Haida Nation Energy Committee says he isn’t surprised Nai Kun has revived the project, but he says they will have to convince his people of the projects worth and allay fears of the negative impact on birds and marine mammals.

Hecate Strait has some of the worlds strongest and most consistent winds and with a depth of between 12 and 15 metres, it is shallow enough to build turbines that would be fixed to the ocean floor. The company says because the project has been scaled back and turbines are more efficient, they don’t think it will have to under go another environmental assessment. Another bonus is that the original cost of the project was pegged at $2 billion, but now it would be a third of that. A new budget is now being worked on.

The plan would still see the turbine’s power being transmitted by undersea cable to hydro’s grid on ridley island. Graham island would also be powered up via a marine cable that would end in tell which would allow Haida Gwaii to wean itself off diesel-generated power.

O’Connor feels Nai Kun’s chances of getting the project underway may have improved under the NDP and the push to reduce greenhouse gases may also work in the project’s favour.

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