Surprise! Everwind Wants Public Money

Green hydrogen first appeared on my radar in May of this year when I heard about Everwind Fuels, a newly formed company with the modest aim of turning Nova Scotia into a regional green hydrogen hub.

US-based Everwind, headed by Australian private equity guy Trent Vichie, announced its intentions by purchasing the Point Tupper “energy storage center” (read: tank farm) formerly owned by San Antonio, Texas-based NuStar Energy.

I had pinned Vichie’s sudden interest in Nova Scotia on a federal tax incentive for green hydrogen projects, but there’s more to it than that.  Everwind has a hefty lobbying presence in Ottawa:

Everwind Fuels lobbyists

Screenshot captured 26 July 2022.

Matthew Tinari is another New York-based private equity guy, a Fortress Financial alumnus and founder of

And what are these good people, who assured SaltWire’s Aaron Beswick they had all the financing for their project in place back in May, lobbying the feds for?

Why, money, of course:

  • The client has applied for a Strategic Action Fund – Net Zero Accelerator loan under the Call to Action program.
  • The client wishes to engage the government on potential funding under the Net Zero Accelerator Fund or other funding mechanisms as appropriate.

They are  also keen to discuss “energy export policy, programs and initiatives.”

As for who they’re lobbying, it’s a rather extensive list:

 

Extract from Federal Lobbyist Registry

Screenshot captured 26 July 2022

Are they getting a sympathetic hearing? I can’t say for sure, but SOMEONE is being given a sympathetic hearing on the subjects of LNG and hydrogen infrastructure. Following the G7 Summit in Germany, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau told reporters the country was considering expanding LNG infrastructure to “help” Europe during its war-induced energy crisis, explaining, as the Financial Post reported:

The infrastructure could then be used for hydrogen exporting in the future, he said, keeping it consistent with Canada’s longer term climate goals.

Last week, during his visit to Nova Scotia, Trudeau elaborated somewhat on this, as reported by the Canadian Press:

“So even as we’re looking at trying to get off fossil fuels … knowing that we can invest in LNG infrastructure in the short term that will then be useful for hydrogen in the medium and long term, means that we can meet both those short-term challenges and long-term challenges,” he said.

Trudeau also said increasing delivery of hydrogen is being considered in the medium term, which could involve facilities similar to those required to ship liquefied natural gas. He said the government is looking at “a number of different proposals around that” but wouldn’t get into specifics.

 

Parents and subsidiaries

I discovered a few more salient facts about Everwind from the Lobbyist Registry like the names of its “parent companies” and “subsidiaries” which changed over the course of three months, from no subsidiaries and a parent company called TDL Partners Delaware (with an address in Austin Texas) when Sarah Brannen registered in March to multiple parents and subsidiaries when Matthew Tinari registered on 27 June 2022:

Everwind related companies

Toronto Diamond Laredo (which sounds like the name of a 1950s light-heavyweight to me) is registered in Delaware.

I also discovered the names of some other Everwind execs:

  • Ian Salmon, Chief Commercial Officer
  • Mark Savory, VP Project Deployment/Project Director

I am not sure who Salmon is, but Mark Savory is the vice-president of project development at Sustainable Marine, the Fundy tidal power company, and he is also, I suspect, the former Emera executive Vichie has been touting as part of his team. Savory’s Sustainable Marine bio states:

Until 2013 he worked with EMERA and Nova Scotia Power with progressively senior leadership, as Vice President Technical & Construction Services with direct responsibility for corporate engineering, Project Management Office, Procurement & Real Estate, Environmental Services and Environmental Compliance.

Sustainable Marine also makes a cameo appearance in the “Sustainable Prosperity: 2022 Progress Report on the Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act” I’ve quoted elsewhere this week:

Tim Houston quote re: Sustainable Marine

 

Which brings us to the provincial government’s relationship with green hydrogen.

 

“Research”

It’s strangely prominent in that “Sustainable Prosperity” report I quoted above. At one point, the authors note:

On April 11, 2022 the Honourable Tory Rushton, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables and the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, jointly announced their intention to facilitate the transition to a clean economy and create sustainable jobs by refreshing and expanding the mandate of the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore energy regime. Both governments also committed to further collaborate on establishing a competitive, world-class offshore renewables sector, positioning Nova Scotia to become a world leader in offshore wind and clean hydrogen production.

There follows a quote from one Alisdair McLean, executive director of something called NetZero Atlantic, which references “recent research” that shows “both offshore wind and clean hydrogen hold significant potential for the province.”

This research was commissioned by NetZero Atlantic (in its previous guise as the Nova Scotia Offshore Energy Research Association or OERA), ACOA, Heritage Gas Limited, Liberty Utilities and the Nova Scotia Department of Energy & Mines.

The result was this 158-page doorstop of a report, created by “a consortium of Zen Clean Energy Solutions, Dunsky Consulting and Redrock Power Systems,” that tries its best to present hydrogen as a viable option for both heating and transportation in the Maritimes, two purposes retired chemical engineer Paul Martin, co-founder of the Hydrogen Science Coalition, told me back in May were “dumb distractions” on the road to de-carbonization.

I’m not equipped to critique this paper in depth, but I am equipped to note that when I spoke to Martin, he was adamant that the biggest obstacles on this road to a carbon neutral future are fossil fuel companies more interested in preserving their profits than actually attaining carbon-neutrality.

And here are two natural gas companies—Liberty Utilities, which supplies natural gas to over 12,000 customers in New Brunswick, and Dartmouth-based Heritage Gas Limited—funding a green hydrogen study that—wouldn’t you know it?—finds their natural gas pipelines would be perfect for delivering hydrogen or hydrogen mixed with natural gas to consumers.

I get the impression these green hydrogen schemes (Everwind’s and Heritage Gas’) may be competing with one another, but who knows? Certainly not plebs like ourselves who are not privy to the “work” the Nova Scotia government says is:

…underway to explore opportunities in green hydrogen production and offshore wind…

“Government” is:

…exploring opportunities to become a leader in green hydrogen production. Green hydrogen is hydrogen that is produced using renewable energy sources. Green hydrogen has potential to help with our transition to clean and renewable energy in circumstances where fossil fuels cannot quickly and easily be replaced by renewables. We are exploring all scenarios where hydrogen can advance development of our renewable resources, supply the demand for clean energy (domestic and export) and help build our green economy.

But here’s the thing: we don’t need to become a “leader” in anything. We need to reduce our carbon emissions. This reads like Nova Scotia’s government, instead of looking for the most direct method of doing the latter, becoming dazzled by the notion of becoming a net energy exporter (a recurring delusion in this province, see: Richard Starr’s Power Failure).

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I have to reiterate the ending of my Road to Nowhere article:

Are we really going to stand by and let private equity men and natural gas company executives choose our path forward?