As the world moves quickly towards a low-carbon future to address climate change, it is becoming increasingly clear that low-carbon hydrogen is an enabler for a net-zero world. In fact, a report released by The Transition Accelerator identifies hydrogen as an essential component of the future clean energy system and key to Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy. The Government of Canada’s Hydrogen Strategy for Canada also projects that hydrogen could deliver up to 30% of Canada’s end-use energy by 2050.

Emitting only water vapour when combusted, low-carbon hydrogen is the fuel of choice to decarbonize heavy freight, shipping, off-road vehicles, planes and space heating in cold climates and can also be used as a low-carbon feedstock for industry.

What’s the economic opportunity associated with low-carbon hydrogen?

Hydrogen presents a significant economic opportunity for the Edmonton Region, Alberta and Canada. According to a report by The Transition Accelerator, Canadian hydrogen has a wholesale market of up to $100 billion a year, factoring in both domestic earnings and international export opportunities. Hydrogen will also help diversify the economies of the Edmonton Region and Alberta, and could help usher in a wave of good clean energy jobs.

What are hydrogen HUBs and why are they key to building a strong Canadian hydrogen economy?

Hydrogen HUBs are initiatives designed to accelerate the development of regional hydrogen economies in locations across the country with low-cost, low-carbon hydrogen. These HUBs will later be connected to others across the country to break the vicious cycle of insufficient hydrogen supply and demand, and achieve sufficient scale for a strong Canada-wide hydrogen economy.

The hydrogen HUBs model is key to ensuing we’re acting quickly to take advantage of the hydrogen opportunity and making Canada a leading user and exporter of low-carbon hydrogen the world wants. The Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB will also serve as a blueprint for how to create a regional hydrogen economy that can be replicated in other regions across the country.

Why is the Edmonton Region the best launch point for Canada’s first HUB?

The Edmonton Region is among the world’s lowest cost producers of low-carbon hydrogen, which can be made in the region for about half the wholesale price of diesel by upgrading low-cost natural gas.

The region is also well suited to be Canada’s first hydrogen HUB because of its existing experience in hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage, vast network of pipeline infrastructure, large talent pool of engineers and tradespeople, and engaged industry, government, Indigenous and academic leaders. It is also home to suitable and existing sites for carbon capture, storage and utilization and the world’s largest CO2 pipeline.

Why should both blue and green hydrogen be part of Canada’s hydrogen economy?

Low-carbon hydrogen comes in two forms: blue hydrogen, made by upgrading fossil fuels and sequestering the carbon, and green hydrogen, made through the electrolysis of the water. No matter the source, the carbon intensity of the hydrogen is what’s most important.

To create a viable Canada-wide hydrogen economy, HUBs across the country should produce either blue or green hydrogen based on their unique regional strengths and natural resources. For example, provinces with low-carbon electricity (from hydropower, nuclear or renewables) will produce green hydrogen, while provinces with low-cost natural gas and the geology suitable for carbon capture and storage will produce blue hydrogen. We need both blue and green hydrogen to build a strong pan-Canadian hydrogen economy.

What does the launch of the Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB mean for the region?

With plans underway for more than 25 projects related to the production, transportation and end use of hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage, the Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB will help put the Edmonton Region on a path to a net-zero future while ushering good clean energy jobs into the region. Potential projects include the use of low-carbon hydrogen for municipal and commercial vehicle fleets, home and industrial heat and power, and more, with specific project details to come as they are available.

The HUB will also help create a future for the energy industry and put the Edmonton Region, Alberta and Canada on track to be global competitors and leaders in the production and export of low-carbon hydrogen. In fact, the natural resources, pipelines, talent and leadership that made the Edmonton Region and Alberta an energy powerhouse are the same things that will allow the region to sustain its role as a leader in the clean energy future.