Brent Lakeman Talks the Hydrogen Economy

Sector
Hydrogen
Published On
October 22, 2021

Global Edmonton’s Director of Hydrogen Initiative, Brent Lakeman, recently sat down with the European-Canadian Centre for Innovation and Research to discuss the Edmonton Metropolitan Region’s hydrogen economy. The following is the interview transcript.

1. What is Edmonton Global’s Hydrogen Initiative about and what is your plan for Edmonton? 

The purpose of Edmonton Global is to radically transform and grow the economy of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. Hydrogen represents a unique and transformative opportunity to leverage our region’s existing natural resource assets, infrastructure and talent to position the Edmonton Region as the launch point for North America’s hydrogen economy. We are a founding partner in the Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub, Canada’s first and largest hydrogen hub, which brings together all orders government, Indigenous communities, industry, academia and other non-governmental organizations to build a vision for our region’s hydrogen economy and to activate a strategy to achieve that vision.

Our region is home to some of the largest low carbon hydrogen projects in the world, building off our track record in the scale-up of safe and secure CO2 capture and storage systems. Combined with our low-cost natural gas feedstock, we are one of the world’s lowest cost producers of low carbon hydrogen; and our region will soon be the home of net-zero hydrogen production. But its not just about producing this critical energy supply; it is about accelerating its use across our economy.  The Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub has planned the build-out of critical infrastructure needed to make our industrial sectors, including long-haul trucking and municipal bus fleets early hydrogen users.  With this vision of future hydrogen use, there is an opportunity to attract investment to our region and to position our companies as global leaders in the energy transition.

2. What role can the hydrogen initiative play in transitioning to a new energy economy?

Hydrogen represents a tremendous opportunity for our region. Responding to the climate crisis requires an “all hands on deck” approach, we know that hydrogen will play an important role in certain sectors that are difficult to electrify, and it is important that we move quickly to scale hydrogen technologies for growing global demand. The Edmonton Region, which includes Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, is the centre of Canada’s hydrogen production and we have developed the talent, infrastructure and technologies to support this key part of our energy economy. As new sectors begin to adopt hydrogen strategies as part of their decarbonization goals, we have a unique opportunity to lever our existing expertise in areas like hydrogen production, pipeline infrastructure and CO2 capture, utilization and storage to create new energy systems that will be part of our net-zero economy of the future.

With access to a low-cost hydrogen supply and some of the newest and most innovative production facilities, we have an opportunity to be the launch-pad for new companies, services and applications that require access to these hydrogen supplies. For example, the Edmonton International Airport has made a commitment to be one of the world’s first net-zero airports by 2050 and hydrogen will play an important role.  The region can demonstrate to the rest of the world the technologies and approaches that will be needed to decarbonize airports and the aviation sector.

 3. How does cooperation with Europe fit in your project? 

Cooperation with all parts of the world, and Europe in particular, is essential. We know that European jurisdictions have been leaders in the use of hydrogen across a variety of sectors. Our region has a lot to learn in areas like hydrogen for mobility and other industrial applications. Similarly, companies from our region have expertise in areas like pipeline technologies that will be important for Europe as it builds out its own hydrogen transportation infrastructure. Our post secondary institutions have a strong track record of working with their European partners on technology development and commercialization and this represents a great starting point for further cooperation and collaboration.

The Canadian Hydrogen Strategy recognizes the importance of international partnerships and it has been encouraging to see some of the early steps to connect Canadian companies and innovators with partners in Europe and elsewhere. Edmonton Global will work with partner organizations from across the globe to connect our experts in areas where we can make the greatest difference.

We are also working to bring our global partners to Edmonton. Edmonton Global will be co-hosting the inaugural Canadian Hydrogen Convention, from April 26-28 2022. This event will provide the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that the Edmonton Region is the epicentre of the clean hydrogen economy and the place where companies can connect, collaborate and build partnerships to support their plans to commercialize technologies for the production, transport and use of hydrogen.

4. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Its only been a little over half a hear since the Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub was launched, but we have seen an unprecedented level of interest in our region from partners from around the world.  Edmonton Global will be working to convert this interest into tangible economic benefits for our region.

Other industries are looking to the Edmonton Region to provide solutions to de-carbonize some of the highest carbon emitting industries. Just last week Dow announced ($10 billion) they plan to create the world’s first net-zero facility for ethylene and polyethylene. Global manufacturers, like Dow, recognize the imperative to reduce their emissions and the role our region’s existing infrastructure and policy framework can play. In this one investment, Dow is shrinking it’s global emissions by 30%. Every global company, especially those in manufacturing, should be looking at the Edmonton region as a strategic investment to help meet carbon neutrality by 2050. This is the time to invest.

Learn more about the Edmonton Metropolitan Region’s hydrogen opportunity by joining our webinar on October 28 @ 9:00 am – 10:30 am MDT. Click here to register.