There is increasing interest in the use of hydrogen and fuel cells to decarbonize energy use across economies around the world. With 185 countries including Canada being signatories to the Paris Agreement, there is now a global focus on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while working to achieve clean growth and long-term economic benefits. Hydrogen and fuel cells can reduce the environmental impact of economy-wide energy use, while supporting job creation and economic prosperity using innovative, clean technologies.
Hydrogen is a versatile fuel that can be produced from many sources and act as an energy carrier. Hydrogen fuel cells do not produce emissions, only electrical power, water, and heat. When used with hydrogen from renewable sources, hydrogen fuel cells offer a zero emission option that can be scaled for many applications including motive power for vehicles, space and water heating in communities, space and process heat for industry, and power for remote, backup, and critical applications. Hydrogen power-to-gas (P2G) applications enable greater use of renewable power from intermittent sources such as wind and solar.
Leading countries around the world are proactively investing in research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) as well as hydrogen and fuel cell deployments, so as to gain environmental benefits, diversify energy use, enhance energy security, and position their domestic manufacturers for maximum economic advantage. While it is early stage in terms of global deployments, there has undoubtedly been a marked increase in activity and interest.
Canada is well-positioned to benefit from growing international demand for hydrogen and fuel cells. Based on collaboration and investments made by both the public and private sectors in past decades, Canada has a hydrogen and fuel cell sector that thrives in export markets and that includes global leaders, Ballard Power Systems and Hydrogenics. These companies are actively involved in many strategic technology development projects including the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell commuter trains now operating in Germany and in early heavy truck and marine projects in California. Their fuel cell and electrolyser technologies are in use in thousands of fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) including transit buses and in hundreds of hydrogen fueling stations around the world.
Yet, for Canada to fully benefit from these innovative technologies, they need to be put to use at home. There are twelve potential end use pathways where hydrogen and fuel cell technologies could be deployed. These pathways can be grouped by category based on transportation, communities, industrial use or power generation.
This report provides information on benefits as well as drivers of interest, both globally and in Canada, for hydrogen and fuel cells. The twelve pathways are considered based on global and Canadian activity. Key observations and basic readiness issues are identified along with ten recommended actions to support greater hydrogen and fuel cell use.
Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies need to be part of the suite of clean growth solutions that provide environmental and economic benefits to Canadians. The following ten actions are recommended. Oversight for all actions would fall within the scope of the proposed advisory committee’s mandate:
- Form an advisory council involving a range of stakeholders to guide future actions and to ensure overall coordination with both established and emerging hydrogen interests represented.
- Establish sector tables that inform and provide feedback to the advisory council. Sectors are to reflect the primary areas of economy-wide opportunity for hydrogen (transportation, community, and industrial end uses) as well as the hydrogen supply chain. It will be important to integrate regional perspectives from across Canada.
- Use this pathways report as the basis to identify additional in-depth analyses on specific areas that should be undertaken, so as to continue to advance hydrogen use across Canada’s economy.
- Continue to resource participation in high-level international bodies to enhance information sharing, insights gained, and coordination based on the involvement of Canadian government, industry, academic, and other stakeholders.
- Identify and resource research priorities, determining how new priorities compare to current activities. Develop a high-level research plan to guide a broad cross-section of future activities.
- Resource demonstrations and pilot projects in transportation, communities, the industrial sector, and hydrogen supply. Apply lessons learned from other jurisdictions in structuring and reporting, ensuring that criteria are in place to define how these actions will support future real-world deployments.
- Continue to resource codes, standards, and regulatory activities to support deployment with consideration for North American coordination and, where possible, harmonization, as well as with reference to international codes, standards, and regulatory developments.
- Encourage the coordinated buildout of hydrogen fueling infrastructure through broad-based collaboration informed by the experiences of Germany, California, the US, the EU, and Japan, with consideration for light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fueling needs.
- Encourage dialogue and engagement with Measurement Canada to address the need for specifications, approval, and verification methods in support of hydrogen metering and dispensing.
- Identify and implement communications actions to increase awareness, educate, and connect interested stakeholders across Canada.
If you wish to receive a copy of the full report, please email: NRCan.alternative_fuels-alternative_fuels.RNCan@canada.ca.