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  • Writer's pictureWayne Drury

Circular Economy / Approach to Sustainable Energy Development


Over the past couple of days, it has become abundantly clear that the Newfoundland Hydrogen Project is getting off to a rocky start. “Environmentalists worry the provincial government is moving too fast and trying to capitalize on renewable energy at all costs. Others say they feel uncomfortable with the close ties between the premier of the province and a wealthy businessman backing one of the proposals.”[1]

Much of what has been said leads one directly to the benefits of project evaluation and potential development through the lens of a circular economy. As one person said, “we need a complete reimagination of how we advance energy transmission, production and distribution in Newfoundland and Labrador, and focus on how we can return benefits to communities and not just to corporations.” Speaking of the impacts on people, the planet and profit – circularity of the circular economy to a tee.

What is the Proposed Project?

World Energy GH2 explains in their environmental assessment registration: Green “Hydrogen is a zero-emission fuel produced by the electrolysis of water and only using renewable electric power, such as wind.” The process of electrolysis splits water into its component parts, hydrogen and oxygen (H2O), and the hydrogen is then collected.

The project proposal includes, “a 0.5-gigawatt (GW) hydrogen facility at the Port of Stephenville, up to 164 turbines for 1 GW of wind power generation on the Port au Port Peninsula, and associated transmission and supporting infrastructure. Following is a summary of Phase 1.0 for the project:

There are many social, cultural, economic and environmental issues to be addressed, not the least being, what will be the impact of using 700 gallons of water per minute, or 368 million gallons per year (1.68 billion Litres) in the making of 0.5 GW of hydrogen power, and what will be the plan for disposal of 492 wind turbine blades at the end of their life? These are just two issues of many the project proponent is suggesting can be addressed through various studies ending June 2023. A tight time frame, and one that could benefit from taking the steps to completely reimagine how to advance the project through circularity.

Using the principles of project evaluation and development on the basis of a circular economy, could be the answer to a positive and less-risky process for the project, the communities, and the environment.

Circular Economy / Sustainable Evaluation

To meet Net Zero, it is critical to evaluate all impacts from start to finish. Not including all the potential impacts is akin to “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.” With any project, there are many things that may not be seen, but they are there, and only with a full focus from the origin of the material, throughout the material value chain, into the product design and use phase, and finally in the reuse and recycling phase can a project really be said to be sustainable.

That is where evaluation through the principles of a Circular Economy come in. The European Commission supports use of Circular Economy Action Plans for project evaluation; why not with this project?

Embrace Evaluation through Circularity

Circularity means a circular mindset. To get there, we have to rethink everything we do. It's about circularity through the whole process and far beyond: new materials, new technologies, new processes and, in general, new ideas.

We don’t have the answers about the future: no one does. But reframing your mindset, asking the right questions, can mean new projects with extraordinary possibilities.

By zooming out from users, to consider the wider network of stakeholders, we can unlock value at every stage of the process. That includes building feedback loops into your work; knowing the life cycle of materials you use; collaborating with other industry stakeholders; and considering unintended consequences. All the best for the people, the planet and profit.

Sustainable Circular Economy -Who Are We?

At Sustainable Circular Economy, we are a boutique firm. We see discussion about how to achieve true sustainability as critical, or all the commitments just become questionable to languish on paper when the people who made them are long gone, and we are left holding the bag.

We are 100 percent supportive of establishing goals to reduce our global carbon footprint and helping companies and individuals to do their part. Our business is helping to do the world a world of good, by offering a pathway through the circular economy principled upon people, the planet and profit.

Let’s have the discussion. Ask the questions, and if you wish to know how to get there in your business, call us at Sustainable Circular Economy. Our team is ready to assist you and your business to a sustainable future.

Best wishes from all of us at Sustainable Circular Economy

Sustainable Circular Economy

Vancouver, BC, Canada

+1 604 788 7261

[1] Global News (20 08 2022). International interest over Newfoundland’s hydrogen potential worries some experts

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