New B.C. Hydrogen Office aims to set regulatory guideposts across Canada

Monte Stewart
April 12, 2022

B.C.’s new Hydrogen Office will help other governments across Canada regulate and approve development projects involving the renewable fuel, said the province’s premier.

John Horgan’s NDP government announced the formation of the office in March on the sidelines of the Globe Forum 2022 conference in Vancouver. The province pledged that the 10-employee office will work with Ottawa and local governments, including Indigenous groups, to help attract investment and simplify multi-jurisdictional regulatory approval processes.

“The creation of the office will allow us to create a regulatory framework that currently does not exist [in B.C. or elsewhere in Canada],” Horgan told reporters during a news conference. “And, we are hopeful that British Columbia will be leaders in the country in developing that framework so that those who want to invest here understand the guideposts, understand the challenges and, of course, the opportunities.”

Key pillar of recovery plan

The province views the new office as a key pillar of its StrongerBC economic plan announced in February, and believes that the development of a domestic market and retail delivery infrastructure will encourage hydrogen deployment in the province.

Based on a 2019 study that it conducted, the government projects hydrogen could provide a $2.5-billion boost to B.C.’s gross domestic product by 2050 through domestic uses and exports while generating 3,750 new jobs in the province. The government sees B.C.’s proximity to export markets helping the province grab a significant share of the global hydrogen market, which is projected to be worth $305 billion by 2050, according to a news release on the new office.

A standalone hydrogen group within government, the office will streamline the decision-making and permitting processes, protect the public interest, and help investors who want to assist the province in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, Horgan added.

Office tied to hydrogen strategy

The office is tied to B.C.’s hydrogen strategy, launched last year as part of the government’s efforts to reduce emissions 30 percent by 2050.

The strategy aims to develop hydrogen as a clean-energy source while reducing carbon emissions and increasing investment. As part of the strategy, the province provided a $10- million investment designed to develop policies that will reduce the carbon intensity of fuel and promote a hydrogen economy.

According to Horgan and Jobs Minister Ravi Kohlon, B.C. has about 40 hydrogen projects worth $4.8

Colin Armstrong, Chair, Hydrogen BC; President and CEO of HTEC (Hydrogen Technology and Energy Corporation)

billion proposed or under construction. All were initiated after the government announced its hydrogen strategy last July.

“We expect a lot more,” said Kohlon.

Horgan said several new significant projects are lined up, but the province was not in a position to discuss them yet.

The office drew praise from the head of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Hydrogen Fuel Cell Association.

“I applaud the government move to create the Hydrogen Office,” said Colin Armstrong, whose group is known as Hydrogen B.C., in a statement to Research Money. “Hydrogen offers many opportunities for British Columbians, but as has been shown globally, hydrogen projects tend to be complex in nature and include many stakeholders.

“The government’s initiative will help insure [sic] everyone’s investments are successful,” added Armstrong, who is also the president and CEO of North Vancouver-based infrastructure developer Hydrogen Technology and Energy Corporation.

B.C. tech boss ‘pleased’

Jill Tipping, president and CEO of the B.C. Tech Association, was "pleased" by the launch of the new office.

“Hydrogen is one of the solutions [when it comes to helping B.C. reach its 2030 emissions-reduction target based on Paris Accord guidelines],” she told Research Money in an interview. “It’s good to see [the provincial government] making announcements about wanting to invest in and explore hydrogen and have B.C. potentially be a hydrogen leader.”

But, she added, hydrogen is just one example of several renewable energy sources, along with climate adaptation measures, that can help the province achieve its long-term climate change prevention aims. Technology and innovation will play a part in helping B.C. achieve “almost every piece” of its plan to reduce emissions.

“So I want to make sure that B.C.’s innovators are working side-by-side with B.C.’s government and B.C.’s industry players to make sure that we’re getting the best of innovation in B.C. deployed on the ground,” said Tipping.


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