Three levels of government provide more than $2 million to launch Canada’s first hydrogen hub in Alberta

Mark Lowey
April 14, 2021

The federal, provincial and municipal governments are jointly providing $2.25 million to launch Canada’s first industrial hydrogen hub in the Edmonton region.

Funding for the new “Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB,” announced on Wednesday at a virtual news conference, will be the first step in creating what Ottawa envisions will be a $50-billion Canadian clean hydrogen sector, according to Jim Carr, Ottawa’s special representative for the Prairies.

“This investment to launch the Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB to accelerate the production and distribution of hydrogen fuel is part of our government’s Hydrogen Strategy and will help us achieve our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050,” Carr said at the news conference.

He said that implementing the government’s national Hydrogen Strategy, which was announced in December, “can spark early economic recovery and lead to a $50-billion domestic hydrogen sector and generate more than 350,000 high-paying jobs."

As the first hydrogen hub of its kind in Canada, the Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB will serve as a blueprint that can be replicated in other regions across the country, Carr added.

“We feel very strongly (that) the hub is going to kick-start the Edmonton region’s low-carbon economy and help put the region, Alberta and all of Canada on a path to a strong pan-Canadian hydrogen economy and be a leader producing, using and exporting low-cost, low-carbon hydrogen," said Dan Wicklum, CEO of the Transition Accelerator.

Western Economic Diversification Canada is providing $1.2 million to the Transition Accelerator, a not-for-profit organization coordinating the initiative to build the hub. Work will start in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland region just east of Edmonton, which has been identified as the most likely site for a physical industrial hydrogen hub.

Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association, which includes local municipal governments, is contributing $600,000 in financial and in-kind support over three years to the hub. The Alberta government is providing $450,000 over three years through the Emissions Reduction Alberta not-for-profit corporation.

More public and private investment expected

The initial funding will establish a “convening” space for government, industry, Indigenous and academic leaders involved in the hub to meet, plan and have strategic discussions as well as to support independent techno-economic studies of hydrogen opportunities, according to Wicklum.

“The actual launching of the projects and creating the value chain in terms of the business models and the technology . . . will (need) additional public and private sector funding,” Wicklum said.

Carr said there will be further announcements of investments in hydrogen in the "coming weeks and months ahead."

The hub is planning about 25 potential projects related to the supply, delivery and use of “blue” hydrogen made from Alberta’s abundant supply of natural gas. Blue hydrogen includes using carbon capture, storage and utilization to ensure production of low carbon-intensity hydrogen.

Potential projects include the use of hydrogen for municipal and commercial vehicle fleets, and home and industrial heat and power.

“This is a first step that we’re taking to advance the hydrogen industry,” said Dale Nally, Alberta’s associate minister of natural gas and electricity.

The Alberta government announced last fall that hydrogen would be included in Alberta’s Petrochemicals Incentive Program, which provides a 12 percent grant on capital costs for companies to come to the province and set up a hydrogen production facility, he said.

“There are a lot of companies around the world that are very interested in Alberta as a destination," Nally said.

Hydrogen is a “massive new opportunity” for the province’s energy sector and has the potential to play an important role in Alberta’s energy transition, Nally added. He said that hydrogen can de-carbonize existing industrial processes, lower carbon emissions for home and commercial heating, and reduce the carbon footprint of heavy-duty transportation.

Leaders in the initiative have had initial discussions with Japan, South Korea and California to explore the potential for hydrogen exports from Alberta, according to Alanna Hnatiw, chair of the Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub and the Alberta Industrial Heartland Association, and Mayor of Sturgeon County in the region. “They’re all interested in our low-carbon hydrogen,” Hnatiw said.

The Edmonton region is already home to a pilot project that adds hydrogen to natural gas supplied for home heating to reduce overall emissions, Hnatiw noted. The region also has the world’s largest pipeline for transporting captured carbon dioxide emissions.

The new hub will set a precedent for Indigenous participation in the energy sector across Canada, said Chief William Morin of the Enoch Cree Nation and the vice-chair of the Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB.


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