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A look at Canada’s hydrogen strategy

With an eye towards the future, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Seamus O'Regan recently announced the launch of the hydrogen strategy for Canada, a plan that aims to position Canada as a global hydrogen leader. The strategy is planned to create 350,000 jobs and help Canada reach net-zero emissions by 2050. O'Regan added that roughly £5 to £7 billion is needed to help aid the hydrogen industry.

From the Federal Government, "we see Canada advancing a hydrogen economy as not just essential to decarbonization domestically, but also to position Canada to be a global supplier of choice for zero-emission fuel and technology critical to attaining net-zero emission societies." Hydrogen has been touted to help lower emissions, power communities and transportation sectors, and to move the country towards cleaner fuels while diversifying the economy. For Alberta, whose plan and goals are to see the province become a global supplier of clean, responsibly sourced natural gas and related products, its vision and strategy towards hydrogen closely aligns with the federal government's.

Alberta identified a handful of important growth areas:

  1. Petrochemicals
  2. Plastics Recycling
  3. Alberta Industry Demand
  4. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNH)
  5. Hydrogen

The ambitious and monumental strategy is designed to see Canada as a leading global supplier of hydrogen, increase domestic production, and transform the energy sector, which has shown time and time again its ability to innovate and adapt. Canada is among the world's top producers of hydrogen in the world, with roughly two-thirds of this production coming from Alberta, and further stands to profit from the growing demand for hydrogen, a market expected to eclipse £12 trillion by 2050. By developing a robust and clean hydrogen economy, it can unlock significant economic value for both province and country.

Alberta also has its advantages in the production of blue hydrogen, which is made with ultra-low emissions by upgrading natural gas. As the country's largest producer of hydrogen and natural gas, Alberta is well-suited for the future by charting its own hydrogen path. Now is the time for big thinking, and Alberta is seizing this opportunity.

Alberta's Industrial Heartland (AIH) node, with its existing infrastructure and industrial development, with its three levels of government, industry, Indigenous groups, and research organizations, are all playing integral roles in the further development of Canada's hydrogen economy. Some of Alberta's goals include large-scale hydrogen production with carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), and deployment in various commercial applications across the provincial economy by 2030, as well as exports of clean hydrogen and hydrogen-derived products to jurisdictions across Canada, North America, and the globe, are in place by 2040. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the world.

Because hydrogen relies on natural gas - synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and a tiny amount of carbon dioxide, is created by reacting natural gas with high-temperature steam, this requires lots of energy. When used to produce energy, it emits no carbon. Once produced, hydrogen can be used to power electric vehicles, transport trucks, buses, ferries, and even planes, while also helping to decarbonize vital industries like cement and steel resource extraction.

With hydrogen being a hot ticket item and an intrusive process, coupled with Canada's already strong global position, Canada is sitting in a good position to further strengthen its place on the global hydrogen market. While the federal government is taking steps to transition itself away from traditional oil and gas, oil's myriad products and abilities will still be relevant and relied upon for years and years. Hydrogen has demonstrated its versatility in its ability produced from many sources, and its cells do not produce emissions, only electrical power, water, and heat.

Looking ahead, Canada has carefully devised strategic ways to make itself the top producer of low carbon hydrogen in the world, and a supplier of choice to the world. This strategy will further drive economic growth and prosperity and will put the country in a strong position to help itself bounce back economically from COVID-19. Canada knows the potential and demand for hydrogen is growing, and it'll need the help of the oil and gas sector along the way.

The time to capitalize on Canada's competitive advantage is now, especially as more countries set their sights on hydrogen as a pathway towards a low-carbon future, while also maintaining Canada's role as a leading global energy player and producer.

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