Central Huron Mayor Jim Ginn and the company that has signed a letter of intent with the municipality to lease the former Bluewater Centre for Young Offenders have released a statement.
The company is Carlsun Energy Solutions in Port Elgin and Ginn says they'll produce hydrogen.
“Further from the hydrogen, they can make ammonia, which is the basis for fertilizer or it can be used for fuel. So this will be clean fertilizer or fuel, produced on largely off-peak surplus hydro that is produced mainly at night," Ginn explained.
Ginn points out, nitrogen fertilizer is produced primarily in Russia or China right now so it would be a huge advantage to have it produced locally.
Ginn says the demolition of the former Bluewater Centre building will be done quickly.
“The building is scheduled to start demolition immediately and it's going to take us a good six months, possibly even as long as a year to remediate the site, so the time line works for us and it works for them, so I think that's a good sign, too,” Ginn said.
Ginn says he doesn't expect to see construction start on the new building before March of 2024.
“The plants got to be designed and engineered. I will say it's not new technology, it's technology that's been around for a long time, so it's not whether this will work. It will work. It's just a matter of designing the plant, sizing things," added Ginn.
Ginn adds, there's still a whole public phase they have to go through, including getting input from the public and getting the necessary zoning changes but he doesn't anticipate any serious problems.
Carlsun Project Manager Paul McCleave explained they're looking at developing clean fuels.
“We're looking at developing clean fuels and a clean fertilizer facility there. It's still in the early process, there's still a lot of assessment to do, but we're really excited about the opportunity and the need that that type of facility would be fulfilling," shares McCleave.
McCleave said the area around the Bluewater Centre is particularly well suited for what they want to do.
McCleave said it just makes sense, when we have the ability to do it, to produce those products here rather than depend on someone else.
“Around the middle of last year fertilizer prices started to skyrocket and then the war in Ukraine has had a dramatic effect on supply chain issues. This is an opportunity to bring some of that supply chain home and in doing that give some security of supply to local farmers," McCleave said.
McCleave said they're still in the early stages of a long process that involves getting public input, getting all of the zoning and proper permits taken care of, so he expects it will be a few years before they're fully operational.