The Lewisporte biofuel project takes the next step with a call for an environmental assessment

LEWISPORTE, NL – The proposed liquid fuel and power plant project in the city of Lewisporte is now the subject of an environmental assessment and is open for public comment.

The proposed 163-hectare facility, called the Terra Nova Energy Center, is set to convert dry waste from Europe and Canada into liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon fuels and renewable electric power.

Lewisporte Mayor Krista Freake said the company first contacted the city about the project about three years ago and they have had several meetings with them since then. She said residents’ reactions to the proposal have been mixed, with some concerned about environmental impacts, and others enthusiastic about potential economic growth.

“From our perspective, there are two parts to this,” Frick said. “We would like to have an economic generator, economic growth, add jobs, add services to our community, but not in danger to the health of our community, be it environmental or pollution, which are some of the concerns expressed by residents.”

Conceptual drawing of the Terra Nova Energy Center, a proposed biofuels project in Lewisporte.  - Contributed
Conceptual drawing of the Terra Nova Energy Center, a proposed biofuels project in Lewisporte. – Contributed

According to environmental assessment documents submitted to the county, Synergy World Power, which plans to build the facility, is planning a project that will include significant infrastructure improvements at Lewisporte and Burnt Bay, including a new shipping port and offshore fuel dock. It also provides about 200 job opportunities to the region.

The documents say it will use biomass and plastics from European and Canadian landfills as feedstock, most of which comes from Europe. It will use a process called biomass gasification and hydrothermal liquefaction to turn plastic waste into liquid fuels.

“The withdrawal of China and other Asia-Pacific countries from the waste recycling market has resulted in significant accumulations of plastic and cellulosic carbon waste in material recovery facilities and landfills in many Western countries,” the document states. “In North America, attention has shifted to developing environmentally responsible waste technologies to convert this combustible waste into renewable electric energy or clean hydrocarbon fuels.”

Frick said the city plans to participate in the environmental assessment process as often as it can, to learn more about the project, potential impacts and to make sure their questions are heard. Regarding the town’s position on the project, Frick said they will see how the environmental assessment process develops and what comes out of it before making any comment.

The deadline for public comments on the project is February 14 and the minister’s decision is expected on February 24.

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