Hydrogen is a chemical energy carrier that can be made from a variety of feedstocks, including water and electricity, fossil fuels including natural gas and crude oil, biomass, and as a by-product from industrial processes. Canada has a distinct advantage as a hydrogen producer because of its significant low-cost hydrocarbon resources and abundant clean electricity supply from sources including hydroelectricity, nuclear, wind and solar.
It is a clean-burning fuel that does not produce carbon emissions. Its potential for reducing emissions depends on how it is produced. That, in turn, is influenced by costs and technologies. In 2020 the federal government launched the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada to position Canada as a global hydrogen leader. The objective is to use this fuel technology as an important contribution to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Strategy is underpinned by a federal investment of $1.5 billion in a Low-carbon and Zero-emissions Fuels Fund to increase the production and use of low-carbon fuels, including hydrogen.
Canada is a global leader in hydrogen and fuel cell research, development and early-stage commercialization. Canada is a large producer and user of hydrogen and is home to a significant concentration of hydrogen and fuel cell expertise. The industry is diverse and represents all elements within the supply chain, from production to end-use innovative technologies, like zero-emission vehicles.
While much of Canada and the world’s current production is characterized as “grey hydrogen” given that it is derived from higher emitting sources, Canada is extremely well-positioned to produce multiple clean production pathways. Canada’s immense natural gas reserves, coupled with the existing delivery infrastructure, make the future production of less emitting “blue hydrogen” more feasible than many other countries. Furthermore, Canada’s hydroelectric and nuclear power capacity, coupled with wind and solar, make the production of “green hydrogen” an attractive prospect especially when combined with carbon capture, usage, and storage.
The Canadian energy sector’s vast experience, along with its abundant reserves creates an ideal environment for Canada to become a leading supplier of blue hydrogen. The Canadian energy industry’s advanced development of renewable resource projects combined with ample water supply and access makes it well-positioned to be a leading supplier of green hydrogen as well. In addition, the industry has significant experience in addressing society’s expectations within sophisticated and rigorous regulatory systems.
Canada’s hydrogen and fuel cell industry uses about 55 million tonnes of hydrogen a year as a feedstock, and hydrogen is produced as a by-product of industrial processes. The role of renewable power for producing hydrogen is also expanding with the decrease in the costs of wind and solar energies.
Its small-to-no greenhouse gas footprint has placed hydrogen at the cutting edge of energy and environmental innovation across the world, and Canadian companies and producers are held to high standards.