Canada's Hydrogen Strategy: a discussion

The Canadian Hydrogen Association (CHA) has released Hydrogen Systems, which discusses the progression of Canadian hydrogen technologies and infrastructure and the corresponding opportunities for greenhouse gas reduction and economic growth.

According to the CHA, Canada is well positioned to lead the world to the Hydrogen Age and to benefit economically and technologically from the transition to a hydrogen economy. We are leaders in hydrogen system technologies and are also one of the world’s largest per-capita producers of hydrogen, about half of which is produced by our oil and gas industries.

Applying our technical expertise in hydrogen production to achieve reductions in hydrogen-production emissions within the oil and gas industry could position Canada as a leader in the Hydrogen Age and could result in significant reductions in Canada’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, argues the CHA. According to the report, promoting early adoption of hydrogen systems will maintain Canada’s lead in developing a viable hydrogen energy industry.

At the same time, the CHA asserts that maintaining our lead in the face of growing international competition demands that we focus on the mobilization of our resources and on partnerships among governments, industry, academia and research organizations.

Canada’s greatest strength in the move is identified as its vast quantity and range of energy resources, all of which can be used to produce hydrogen. Fossil fuels, hydroelectricity, uranium, renewable energy and other sources could all serve as the foundation for the production of low-cost, clean hydrogen, says the CHA. Although producing hydrogen from fossil fuels generates greenhouse gases (GHGs), Canada also has substantial capacity for carbon sequestration and is developing capabilities in this area.

Canada is also at the forefront of hydrogen technologies such as fuel cells and hydrogen storage, and has the means to maintain this role because of the creativity and initiative displayed by Canadian scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and governments, notes the CHA. As a result of vigorous research and investments, Canada has already achieved significant progress in hydrogen applications, particularly in hydrogen production, Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells and technologies associated with PEM-powered fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). Research is now broadening to embrace a wider range of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

The report goes on to discuss hydrogen’s current role in the Canadian economy, including current hydrogen production, storage, use, and infrastructure. Government supports and markets are also noted.

The report then analyses the mission proposed by its Hydrogen Strategic Plan Working Group: “To deploy sustainable hydrogen energy systems such that, by 2025, Canada will no longer need to expand its use of fossil fuels for Canadian energy services. Building on its energy resource base and its leading expertise in hydrogen technologies, Canada will become one of the world leaders in hydrogen technology development, deployment and the export of hydrogen service technologies.

In setting this goal the group recognizes that Canada will continue to develop and expand the use of fossil fuel energy sources beyond 2025, but asserts that the delivery of energy services will increasingly use energy carriers such as hydrogen and electricity rather than gasoline and natural gas.

The report goes on to analyse the transformation of Canada’s energy sector, and increased production, distribution and consumption of hydrogen energy that will be necessary to meet this goal. Challenges and obstacles are identified, with solutions for government and industry proposed. The report closes with a four step action plan for the development of a Canadian hydrogen economy.

“The timing of the transition to the Hydrogen Age will depend on market conditions, the rate of technological development and consumer acceptance. The transition will take decades, which means that if we expect hydrogen to play a significant role on a global scale by 2050, we must act now,” concludes the CHA.

Read Hydrogen Systems: The Canadian opportunity for greenhouse gas reduction and economic growth through the deployment of hydrogen technologies and infrastructures (PDF).

Source: Canadian Hydrogen Energy Company.

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