Producing hydrogen in Canada
Canada’s rich feedstock reserves, skilled energy labour force and strategic energy infrastructure assets position Canada to become a top global producer of clean hydrogen. Each region in Canada will have a unique mix of production based on local resources and economic factors to meet the growing demand for hydrogen. Canada’s extensive natural gas pipeline network, combined with new storage and distribution assets, can be leveraged to move hydrogen from production to end-use locations.
How is hydrogen produced?
There is a wide range of environmentally friendly ways to produce hydrogen. These include:
- fossil fuels with carbon capture
- utilization and storage
- natural gas with carbon capture, utilization and storage
This diversity of sources makes hydrogen a promising energy carrier and enables hydrogen production from coast to coast to coast.
This process splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electric current. The resulting hydrogen is very pure and can be used directly in transportation and other end-use applications such as heating or to power industrial processes. This production method is extremely clean and, considering that 82% of Canada’s electricity supply comes from either renewable or non-GHG-emitting sources, has enormous growth potential in Canada and can help improve the economic viability of variable renewables.
Natural gas can be converted to hydrogen and CO2 via steam methane reforming. If CO2 can be captured and stored, the carbon intensity of the resulting hydrogen can be reduced by up to 90%, offering a unique opportunity to leverage Canada’s gas reserves to produce low-carbon energy.
Biomass gasification, a stable technology that uses high temperature steam to break down biomass (forest, agricultural waste or dry organic waste) into hydrogen and other products of combustion, is considered both renewable and carbon-neutral. If it is coupled with carbon capture and storage, the process becomes carbon-negative.
Landfill, sewage, and agricultural gas reformation
Another potential source of hydrogen from biomass is the use of the steam methane reformation process resulting from the breakdown of organic matter in landfills, sewage treatment plants and agricultural waste sites.
Canada’s hydrogen production potential
The array of production methods offer vast economic opportunities across the country. The pathways that will be adopted in each region of Canada depends on:
- the availability of feedstocks
- energy inputs
- suitable sites for carbon capture and storage
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