New Twist. Wind farm’s 10.6 MW will be integrated with hydrogen-energy station for primary and backup generation. (Photo courtesy of Prince Edward Island)

A public-private partnership will develop the Prince Edward Island Wind-Hydrogen Village project at an estimated cost of $8.2 million on the province’s western tip. Completion is scheduled for March 2008. The wind-energy component is already in place. Prince Edward Island Energy Corp., a Crown corporation, constructed a 10.6-MW wind farm on North Cape in two stages, completing it in 2003.

The wind farm will continue to generate electricity into the province’s grid, but it also will power electrolysis equipment to produce hydrogen from water. The hydrogen will be used in fuel cells for industrial, farm and household needs. It also will be stored as a fuel for an internal-combustion engine to generate backup and primary electricity and for a small fleet of shuttle buses, say project officials.

The project is intended as "a demonstration of existing Canadian hydrogen technology," says Wayne MacQuarrie, CEO of PEI Energy. "It’s not research and development per se; it’s a demonstration project for an extended period to see how it performs."

PEI Energy’s partner in the project is Hydrogenics Corp., Mississauga, Ontario, a developer of projects aimed at commercializing hydrogen and fuel cell products. "What’s new [in the PEI project] is the connection of wind with a variety of applications including hydrogen" for primary and backup power, says Randall MacEwen, Hydrogenics vice president of corporate development.

Hydrogenics’ contract scope "is being refined right now," but the company will perform as project manager with responsibilities for engineering, procurement and construction, says MacEwen. It will build the project with its own forces along with those of suppliers of major components and systems, he says. For example, locally based Frontier Power Systems will engineer and install the wind-system controls and Dynetek Industries Ltd., Calgary, Alberta, will build the hydrogen storage tanks. The tank capacities have not yet been set.

The project will be sited between Seacow Pond and North Cape and will include installation of a hydrogen-energy station, a storage depot and a wind-hydrogen and wind-diesel integrated control system to power the North Cape Interpretive Center Complex, the Atlantic Wind Test Site and homes and offices in the area. MacQuarrie says the customers may include 20 to 25 households with a load between 150 and 250 kW. The hydrogen also will fuel up to three shuttle buses in Charlottetown and between Charlottetown and North Cape. Ultimately, it may also be used to fuel a tour boat operating from Seacow Pond wharf.

The project has broad local support, says MacQuarrie. "PEI is a green province," he notes. It has no landfills and operates with district heating systems, wind energy and biofuels. The wind farm meets 5% of the demand, but "90% of our energy needs are met by fossil fuel.

Most electricity is imported from New Brunswick" via two 100-MW submarine cables, he adds. Local generating stations operate on light and heavy oil. "It’s expensive," he says, with retail costs of 8.1¢ per kW-hour.

ne of Canada’s remote eastern provinces has launched a project integrating wind energy with hydrogen production as a demonstration of one path to the possible "hydrogen economy" of the future.