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    Alberta Eyes its Hydrogen Future


Task force will map the creation of a hydrogen economy

by: Dale Lunan

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Alberta Eyes its Hydrogen Future

Alberta, the heart of Canada’s oil and gas industry, is eyeing a central role in the country’s transition to a greener economy with the creation May 14 of hydrogen task force to develop a framework for a hydrogen economy in the province.

Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force, comprised of government, business, energy, academic and sustainability leaders, will produce a public report detailing the steps needed to advance a zero-emission fuel economy.

“We know that demand for hydrogen continues to grow, both here at home and around the world,” says Dale Nally, Alberta’s associate minister of natural gas and electricity. “This growth provides Alberta with yet another opportunity to strengthen and extend our natural gas value chain through the development of blue hydrogen.”

The task force was organised by the Transition Accelerator, working in tandem with municipalities surrounding Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, a grouping of refineries, petrochemical facilities and other heavy industries located just northeast of Edmonton.

It’s also the source for some of the world’s lowest-cost blue hydrogen, which is made with ultra-low emissions by upgrading natural gas and used in other industrial and manufacturing processes in the Heartland. The carbon by-product from this process is captured and permanently sequestered underground or used for another purpose.

The task force’s analysis is the first step to identifying the broader economic opportunities that growing large-scale clean hydrogen production and use can bring to Alberta. These efforts also complement work that the federal government has been doing, in partnership with private sector stakeholders and other levels of government, to develop a hydrogen strategy for Canada.

“The task force is the result of government, industry and academia coming together to champion real change so Alberta can win economically and environmentally in a changing world,” Transition Accelerator CEO Dan Wicklum says. “Picture Alberta using and supplying the world with zero-emission fuel made by upgrading natural gas. This could be a part of a very strong future for Alberta and Canada.”

Tim Egan, CEO of the Canadian Gas Association (CGA), says Canada’s natural gas delivery industry has long been committed to innovation and reducing emissions. Its participation on the task force is an extension of that commitment.

“Looking to the future, gaseous fuel delivery systems will be essential to meet the world’s environmental and economic objectives,” he says. “The Transition Accelerator is doing important work to ensure hydrogen is part of the fuel mix in those systems.”

Over the next 10 weeks, the task force will set the stage for a long-term build out of a hydrogen economy in Alberta by identifying opportunities for technology deployment, investment, employment and more. Its final report will be released in July 2020.