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Tag: Hydrogen

Opinion: Edmonton region poised to capitalize on the hydrogen economy

A hydrogen manufacturing unit at the Scotford Shell site, near Fort Saskatchewan. File photo PHOTO BY RICK MACWILLIAM/Postmedia

On Wednesday, April 14, the Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub was launched, backed by over $2 million in funding from three orders of government. This is an exciting first step in the establishment of Canada’s first hydrogen hub. As the economic development organization for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, Edmonton Global welcomes the news of this launch, are extremely proud to partner in its activities, and are excited to see the impacts that this will have on the acceleration of the hydrogen economy for our region and beyond.

The global race to export hydrogen is on and right now we have some advantages, but we can’t assume that these will last forever. That’s why we’re encouraged by this launch. We are coming together as a region to take a proactive and strategic approach to capitalize on this opportunity and move aggressively forward.

We know that for Canada and the world to meet our climate and greenhouse gas reduction targets, hydrogen must be part of the solution. And it must be produced in ways that dramatically reduce the carbon intensity. This is where our region has a significant and global advantage. We have the technologies, talent, and abundance ofnatural gas combined with proven carbon capture and storage that allows us to produce near-zero emissions hydrogen and we’re one of the lowest-cost producers in the world. A global hydrogen economy will flourish once there is adequate demand matched with an abundance of low-cost and low-emissions hydrogen — simply put, the economics need to work and right now, the Edmonton region has what’s needed to check all the right boxes.

The economic benefits that the hydrogen economy could bring to our region are truly transformative. Make no mistake, the opportunity is massive — Canadian hydrogen has a national and international wholesale market of up to $100 billion a year.

Even beyond the production and export of hydrogen and the creation of good quality, clean energy jobs, the hydrogen economy will bring significant opportunities to our region. The establishment of a hub can and will attract OEM and energy tech companies to the region — and more. The economic spin-off potential can’t be overstated. From tech start-ups to fuel cells, service companies to innovation labs, power generation to the infrastructure needed to export, and the finance and capital markets needed to bankroll these projects — it’s critical that we are paying attention to the bigger picture to ensure that we capitalize on all aspects of this opportunity. If the hydrogen economy will eventually result in hundreds of billions of immediate and spin-off benefits, we want as much of that as is possible, to be centred right here in the Edmonton metropolitan region.

When we look at how the oil and gas sector played out in our region, we can learn a few things. While significant investments were made into our region, we failed to capture a lot of the value-added benefits of this industry. This time around, it’s critical that we embrace a bold vision — one that would realize the radical transformation of our regional economy.

We must anchor this opportunity within a long-term plan to support economic development and investment attraction across our regional economy. That’s why the Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub has been embedded into an economic development framework. It’s an incredibly competitive world when it comes to investment attraction and we must play to our strengths. Beyond being among the world’s least expensive producers of low-carbon hydrogen — we have a high quality of life, diverse and highly skilled talent, expertise in artificial intelligence, strong logistics and supply chains, and access to global markets. With focus and collaboration across our region, we can compete to win on the global stage.

Through this launch and the bringing together of key regional partners, we have the potential to accelerate the impacts that hydrogen can bring to our region, to Alberta, and to all of Canada —we’re excited to get started.

Event highlights – The California market for hydrogen

Understanding international demand for Alberta hydrogen exports

As the world transitions to renewable energy sources, hydrogen will play an integral role in Canada’s and the world’s transition to a low carbon economy. As such, hydrogen represents a significant economic opportunity for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region and the province of Alberta. The race to export hydrogen is on and our region holds some unique advantages and is well suited to become Canada’s first hydrogen node. The Edmonton region is one of the lowest cost places in the world to make low-carbon hydrogen and we have the expertise, talent, infrastructure and resources (low-cost natural gas and the ability to safely store CO2) in our region to accelerate the launch of the hydrogen economy – but these advantages won’t last forever. That’s why Edmonton Global, together with our partner Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association, are hosting a series of online workshops aimed at exploring the export market in key regions including:

  • Japan
  • California
  • China
  • South Korea

The workshop exploring the California market took place on March 25, 2021. It included some great insights from key stakeholders from both the public and private sector about California’s emerging hydrogen market.  Panelists from the California Governor’s office, the California Energy Commission, and the California Hydrogen Business Council spoke about California’s ambitious targets for shifting to zero emission fuels over the coming 25 years, and how hydrogen will play an important role in this shift.  Some of the key points raised during the workshop included:

  • Don’t get confused by the colors.  California’s expectations around low cost, low carbon fuels include hydrogen derived from natural gas that makes use of carbon capture and storage technology.  California also has an established emission credit system that is part of their process for advancing low carbon fuels.
  • The transportation sector is a large focus for California, but power generation is an opportunity they are beginning to look at
  • The California regulators will evolve as required if presented with a compelling case for low-cost, low-carbon hydrogen supply—in particular, the requirements for “renewable” electricity mix on the grid, and “renewable” hydrogen content at the fueling stations.  They currently have subjective categories but anticipate moving to objective requirements such as carbon intensity.
  • California has a rapidly growing hydrogen market and there will be advantages associated with having a diverse energy portfolio including a range of hydrogen suppliers from multiple jurisdictions, including Canada.
  • Decisions on how to meet the state’s demand will be driven by the market, including the how hydrogen will be transported (rail, pipelines, ships) and its form (eg. liquified hydrogen, ammonia, methanol).
  • Current gaps include the installation of hydrogen transport and distribution infrastructure and it will be important to work on this concurrently as hydrogen production and demand increases.
  • Scale is a huge factor in delivered costs.  They were projecting cost equivalency to retail gasoline in the next 5-10 years and a recent Executive Order (N-79-20) is expected to speed that up.
  • California is eager to share research results and best practices associated with the development of standards, including the blending of hydrogen into natural gas distribution systems.  Stakeholders within the Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub are working hard to advance similar opportunity areas and there is value in connecting with the California Energy Commission process to learn more.

Maggie Hanna the President of Common Ground Energy Corporation and Fellow at the Energy Futures Lab attended the event and said, “The three presenters at this workshop are clearly the key people that Alberta needs to be talking to in order to further explore how to capitalize on the California market. Blending projects, in particular, look like they will create opportunities for Alberta hydrogen. If Alberta were to supply a maximum of 15-20% blended hydrogen into their existing natural gas exports, aimed at the California power grid, that would take them a significant way towards their decarbonization goals. It would also be pipeline friendly at less than 20% hythane.”

You can watch a recording of the workshop here:


The next workshop in this series, which will take place on April 15, 2021, will explore the Korean market for hydrogen.

Greater Edmonton Region Well-Suited to Become Canada’s First Hydrogen Node

New report from Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force Builds on Previous Finding that Canadian Hydrogen has a Market Potential of up to $100 Billion a Year.

Released November 16, 2020, the new report from Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force lays out a roadmap for how to implement a hydrogen as fuel economy in the Greater Edmonton Region. The Task Force was organized by The Transition Accelerator and led by Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur, Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank and Lamont County Reeve David Diduck. With the release of its report, the Task Force has completed its mandate. The final report is available to read here.

Titled “Building a Transition Pathway to a Vibrant Hydrogen Economy in the Alberta Industrial Heartland,” the report has found that the Greater Edmonton Region is well-suited to become Canada’s first hydrogen node, defined as an initiative to accelerate the development of a regional hydrogen economy that can later be connected to other nodes across the country to achieve sufficient scale for a vibrant Canada-wide hydrogen economy. In particular, the region is a good place for Canada’s first node because of its access to low-cost natural gas, existing experience in hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage, a vast network of pipeline infrastructure, a large talent pool of engineers and tradespeople, and engaged industries, governments, First Nations and university and college academics. The report also complements the Government of Canada’s upcoming hydrogen strategy and the Government of Alberta’s recently released Natural Gas Vision and Strategy, which lays out a future vision for Alberta hydrogen production, use and export.

Among the main findings in the Task Force’s report are that heavy transport and heating are key to building demand for zero-emissions hydrogen. For instance, heavy-duty commercial and municipal vehicles such as fleets of trucks and buses are vital to creating demand in the region because they use large amounts of fuel and travel the same routes every day, requiring the construction of only a limited number of strategically-placed fueling stations. Heating residential and commercial buildings could also drive demand, as hydrogen can be blended with natural gas to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The report recommends that this demand for hydrogen be met through centralized large-scale hydrogen production potentially moved through repurposed abandoned or discontinued pipelines, which are crucial to reducing capital costs and reaching both key transportation corridors and neighbourhoods. Government investment may be required in the short-term, but the objective of the node is to drive the implementation of a hydrogen economy where the scale of supply and demand ensures that the full economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen will be realized without sustained public investment.

The Task Force’s report is supported by findings from a recent Transition Accelerator report, which establishes hydrogen as a vital component of Canada’s future clean energy system and the fuel of choice to decarbonize heavy freight, shipping, planes, space heating in cold climates and heavy industries such as steelmaking. The Transition Accelerator’s report also projects that Canadian hydrogen has a wholesale market potential of up to $100 billion a year, factoring in both domestic earnings and international export opportunities, and reveals that hydrogen can be made in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland for about half the wholesale price of diesel.

“Hydrogen will be a critical part of the future clean energy system, and the race is on to innovate value chains and business models to implement a vibrant Canadian hydrogen economy,” said Dan Wicklum, CEO, The Transition Accelerator. “Canada’s low-cost hydrogen offers a significant competitive advantage, and convening groups like the Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force to implement regional hydrogen economies across Canada will allow us to join global leaders.” 

“The synergies our region possesses through industry expertise, our educated and skilled workforce, carbon capture and storage and a supportive municipal alliance puts Alberta’s Industrial Heartland at a great advantage to build Canada’s first hydrogen node,” states Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw. “It’s a win-win not only for Alberta, but one that will reap many benefits for Canada nation-wide as the world continues moving toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and we’re ready.”

“The natural resources, pipelines, talent, leadership, and innovative spirit that made Alberta an energy powerhouse are the same aspects that will allow us to be a leader in the clean energy future,” said Mayor Don Iveson, City of Edmonton. “The regions that figure out how to quickly scale up the use and production of hydrogen as a fuel will win economically and environmentally in a quickly changing world.”

“Alberta’s government applauds the work of the Alberta Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force in exploring the enormous potential of large-scale commercial hydrogen production in the province and for creating a well-thought out roadmap on how hydrogen could be integrated into our economy,” said Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity. “We have the resources, talent and experience to reap significant long-term economic benefits from this clean-burning fuel source, and we need to be ready to leverage them in the coming years. We are proud to partner with the Task Force on their work, which will be invaluable as we build our province’s roadmap for advancing a strong and profitable hydrogen economy.”

“We’re a vast country, and when it comes to producing hydrogen, there are advantages in every region,” said Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “This announcement is great news for Edmonton. This is how Canada will lead a global hydrogen economy.”

For a full list of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force members and advisors, click here. To read the Task Force’s final report, click here.

Newly released white paper explores the Edmonton Metropolitan Region’s potential as a ‘hydrogen node’

The Transition Accelerator has released a white paper – Towards Net-Zero Energy Systems in Canada: A Key Role for Hydrogen. The report includes a pan-Canadian perspective on the work of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force which was established in order to develop a framework for implementing a hydrogen economy in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. This white paper provides an assessment of the ability of the region to contribute to the transition towards a net-zero energy future through the acceleration of hydrogen adoption.

Part of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, represents a cluster of world-class refining and processing operations representing $40 billion in capital investments and a wealth of expertise in the energy sector.  

As Canada commits to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, most of the fossil carbon-based energy carriers – like gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and natural gas – that currently provide over 70% of secondary energy demand in Canada will need to be replaced with zero-emission energy carriers. Hydrogen has the capacity to fulfill this need.

In order to scale up the hydrogen industry in Canada to meet the anticipated demand, the white paper recommends the establishment of ‘hydrogen nodes’ in regions across the country where the following criteria can be met:

  1. Low cost/low carbon source of blue, green or waste hydrogen
  2. Substantial nearby markets for the hydrogen as fuel and/or industrial feed stock
  3. Ability to cost-effectively connect supply to demand
  4. Scale of supply and demand where the economics work without sustained public investment
  5. Engaged industry, governments and academics to drive and support the initiative

The unique strengths of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland make it an excellent choice when considering where to locate one of these ‘nodes’. The region is among the world’s lowest cost producers of hydrogen. Alberta’s hydrogen, in particular, is made with ultra-low emissions by upgrading natural gas and sequestering carbon dioxide.

As well, the region offers well developed existing infrastructure, excellent access to domestic and international markets, a growing clean-tech ecosystem, and skilled labour.   

Lastly, the establishment of the Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Taskforce has brought together government, industry and academia – clearly demonstrating well rounded support of this initiative.

You can learn more about the study by reading the white paper here.


Canadian Utilities, an ATCO company, announced it has been awarded $2.8 million in funding from Emission Reductions Alberta’s (ERA) Natural Gas Challenge to advance a first-of-its-kind hydrogen blending project in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. Once complete, the project will be Canada’s largest hydrogen blending project, injecting up to five per cent hydrogen by volume into a section of Fort Saskatchewan’s residential natural gas distribution network, lowering the carbon intensity of the natural gas stream for its customers.

“Affordably decarbonizing the production of heat is vital to achieve our long-term emissions and energy goals, particularly in our cold Canadian climate, and hydrogen can play a powerful role,” said Siegfried Kiefer, President & Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Utilities. “This project is an important first step for Alberta, which has all the ingredients needed to be a leader in the hydrogen economy—including the ability to produce near zero-emissions hydrogen at a lower cost than virtually any other jurisdiction in the world.”

Canadian Utilities’ project will use hydrogen derived from domestically-produced natural gas, with the intent to eventually leverage Alberta’s existing carbon capture and sequestration infrastructure to store emissions associated with the production process. Engaging with customers and the community of Fort Saskatchewan will be integral to the project. Canadian Utilities will work diligently to create awareness about the safety of hydrogen, environmental benefits and the considerable economic potential.

“This project will not only create jobs, but a roadmap for hydrogen in Alberta, using low-cost, responsibly produced natural gas while leveraging the province’s existing investment in carbon capture technology,” said George Lidgett, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Utilities, Canadian Utilities. “Our vision is to enable Western Canada’s world-class natural gas industry to grow in tandem with Alberta’s hydrogen economy, including supplying eventual exports to global markets where demand is steadily growing.”

The Fort Saskatchewan Blending Project is expected to get underway in September with commercial and community activities. Construction is planned to commence begin the first quarter of 2021.

“The City is pleased to be the site of this proposed hydrogen blending project,” said Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur. “This project demonstrates Fort Saskatchewan’s commitment to sustainability and reducing emissions, while supporting our local economy. We look forward to working with ATCO.”

This isn’t ATCO’s first foray into the production, distribution and use of hydrogen. Last year, ATCO officially opened its world-class Clean Energy Innovation Hub in Western Australia. The industry-leading facility is a test bed for hybrid energy solutions and integrates natural gas, solar PV, battery storage and clean hydrogen production. In addition, ATCO is working with Fortescue Metals Group in Australia to explore hydrogen vehicle fuelling infrastructure in Western Australia and has recently been awarded funding by the government of Western Australia to conduct a feasibility study into the development of a commercial scale hydrogen production plant.

Blending hydrogen into the natural gas grid is being safely trialed in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and France, with concentrations reaching up 30 to per cent by volume.

With approximately 4,600 employees, assets of $20 billion, and two million customers around the world, Canadian Utilities Limited, an ATCO company, is a diversified global energy infrastructure corporation delivering essential energy services, service excellence and innovative business solutions in Utilities (electricity and natural gas transmission and distribution), Energy Infrastructure (electricity generation, energy storage, and industrial water solutions); and Retail Energy (electricity and natural gas retail sales). More information can be found at www.canadianutilities.com.

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T: 403 292 7879 C: 403 828 2908

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