Impact of New Hydrogen Policies in Canada
Written by: Joud Arjour
Hydrogen gas, the world's smallest yet most abundant molecule, is appearing to be a vital part of Earth’s next energy transition. As an energy carrier it has similarities with that of electricity. It can replace fossil-fuels in industries such as heating and transportation. However, the exact role it will play in Canada’s future is not yet established.
George Rubin, Managing Director of Loop, says that while Canada is home to an abundance of hydrogen fuel, it has seen little usage in the twenty years since Hydrogenics began commercialization of hydrogen fuel technology. Canada’s energy resources could be used to make hydrogen to lower the carbon footprint and continue leading the path to carbon-neutrality. Proponents for an increase hydrogen production are expecting solid policies from the federal government that will result in more investment, both public and private. The government has stated that an in-depth hydrogen strategy will be released near the end of summer. However, with the COVID-19 situation not fully solved, this may be delayed.
Some hydrogen experts also believe that if the federal government is looking for new, cleaner markets for Alberta and Ontario natural gas and electricity respectively, the hydrogen extracted represents viable and realistic ways of cleaning the transportation and heating sectors. “The transportation companies don’t want plug-in electric because it takes too long.” says David Layzell, a director at the University of Calgary. In addition, he states that due to the heavy weight and long lifespan of vehicle batteries, hydrogen-powered trains are more effective in heavy vehicles that can refuel at centralized locations, which only strengthens the argument for hydrogen becoming a major part of the transportation industry.
Because of the relatively recent downturn of Alberta’s energy sector, hydrogen provides a meaningful opportunity for the Province to get the industry back to its previous heights. Recent projects have shown that carbon capture and storage facilities linked to natural gas reforming processes can return energy-efficient, hydrogen that is also free of any emissions. This is also known as blue hydrogen, as opposed to grey or black hydrogen (unclean) that come from natural gas and coal respectively. In addition, it is costs half of diesel, and a third of hydrogen produced using electrolysis, or green hydrogen, which uses power to separate water into its core elements. Ben Sharpe, a senior researcher at ICCT, believes carbon capture and storage “could be a really great stepping-stone until the production of hydrogen with electrolysis’’. The only reason Canada has not turned to green hydrogen is the high cost of extraction, as the process is still in its infancy.
He also agrees with the government’s investment in the new Alberta pipeline, calling it ‘’a fantastic way to create jobs and position Canada well along the way to transition to zero-emission vehicles’’. It is clear to industry leaders that hydrogen, in one way or another, will help Canada achieve its environmental and energy goals, but they are still waiting on a solid government plan. Bertrand Masselot, CEO of Air Liquide, believes that achieving a carbon-neutral Canada by 2050 is not possible without hydrogen. ‘’The question is not whether it works. The question today is the scale up. The speed.’’ Canada is one of the global leaders when it comes to environmental and energy policies, and many (if not all) the provinces will benefit massively from Carbon-neutrality. However, Canadians must remain patient as the government rolls out its plans, as any drastic or inefficient policies may impact the country for decade.
By: Joud Arjour
Quotes - Rubin, Layzell, Sharpe, Masselot
Info about Hydrogen Colors - Green, Blue, etc.