To help Canada achieve its net-zero greenhouse gas emission target by 2030, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force has assessed the market potential for hydrogen in the province as part of an effort to form a vibrant hydrogen economy.
Officially launched in May with a goal to set the stage for a long-term build out of a hydrogen economy in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, the Task Force both recognises and hopes to utilise Alberta’s clean advantage of its low-cost natural gas, technical expertise and ability to rapidly scale-up the production of blue hydrogen.
Moving outside of the province, the report also explores potential nearby markets for fuel hydrogen and proposes a deployment strategy based on the principle that if public investment ends, an economically viable new energy system must remain.
As an internationally recognised low-cost producer of hydrogen from either electrolysis with low carbon electricity of from fossils fuels, the potential for Canada is high, but as the report suggests, the move from this grey hydrogen production needs to happen.
The report details that if blue or green hydrogen is used to support the transition, life cycle greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 80%-95% relative to the incumbent gasoline or diesel fuels.
“To realise this opportunity, it is imperative that the supply, distribution and demand systems are deployed at an appropriate scale, and in a synchronised way,” the report reads. “While public funding may be required to establish a new energy system, once established, it is important that the system is economically viable and not dependent on continuous government subsidies.”
Summarising its key thoughts, the Task Force outlines ten key steps which it believes need to be taken in order to achieve a hydrogen economy both in Alberta and Canada as a whole. The recommendations laid out in the report include:
- A roadmap is needed to clearly embrace the scale and ambition for a hydrogen future in both Alberta and Canada. It should engage all levels of government as well as industry and other stakeholders.
- Standards and regulations related to hydrogen and carbon dioxide must be put in place soon. Including what defines low carbon hydrogen, safety, monitoring and regulatory issues around a variety of applications.
- First nations engagement needs to happen in order to explore interest and opportunities for First Nations to get involved, and lead, in the production, transportation and use of hydrogen.
- Blue hydrogen production. Engage companies producing hydrogen for use as an industrial feedstock to capture and store the carbon, thereby making blue hydrogen.
- CCUS work needs to be reviewed. Past work on the carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) potential and security in Alberta must be reviewed and updated.
- Fuelling stations for buses, trucks and trains need to provide hydrogen as a transportation fuel at competitive prices. Stations need to be strategically located and able to serve both fuel cell electric vehicles and dual-fuel vehicles.
- Hydrogen vehicle deployments must use pilots of demonstration projects to explore ‘fit for service’ potential of hydrogen-using vehicles under real conditions.
- Decarbonising natural gas for heat and power. The successful transition to hydrogen as zero emission heating will require social acceptance which can be done through lower costs, compared to alternative methods.
- Moving hydrogen from supply and demand. Connecting hydrogen supply to demand is one of the greatest challenges. With sufficient demand in the corridor, pipeline infrastructure can be justified, and the new energy system will become viable.
- International engagement. Alberta and Canada should explore new markets for hydrogen exports, and engage companies from around the world that are designing, building, testing and selling hydrogen sensors, fuel cells, vehicles, compressors etc.
The full report can be read here.