Hydrogen Energy and Fuel Cell Technology in British Columbia

Hydrogen Energy and Fuel Cell Technology in British Columbia

April 18, 2018 Posted by Abby Pollen

Small Fuel Cell

The world is looking for clean and renewable energy sources, and British Columbia is answering the call. Hydroelectricity, the mainstay of power for the province, is among the cleanest, safest and most reliable energy sources. The extensive B.C. coast is home to wave energy research, and solar, wind and biomass options are being adopted across the province. With growing demand for clean energy and an impressive local history of hydrogen technology development and commercialization, British Columbia is a leader in the global hydrogen fuel cell industry. Hydrogen can store energy and produces no carbon emissions during use. As global trends move from conventional energy to low carbon and renewable sources, there is an increasing demand for hydrogen as a primary fuel and energy carrier.

Competitive electricity rates and one of the lowest carbon emission power grids in the world make the province of British Columbia an ideal location for renewable hydrogen energy production. While there are many hydrogen companies in British Columbia, the city of Burnaby, in particular, has become a mini-hub of fuel cell innovation, with companies like Ballard Power , Loop Energy and Greenlight Innovation all making strides in the field.

Ballard Power has been improving battery life spans and developing innovative energy solutions since the 1970s. They are leaders in fuel cell technology, and have had a hand in many recent clean vehicles and transportation options coming to market. Loop received $760,000 in federal funding to develop a method of extending the range of fuel-cell-powered trucks. They have successfully implemented a system which addresses battery power and recharging limitations and puts fuel cells on par with diesel as a viable way to power vehicles.

Sector developments are matched by incentives to implement new technology, making industry growth more feasible. B.C.’s Innovative Clean Energy Fund is designed to support the Province's energy, economic, environmental and greenhouse gas reduction priorities, and to advance B.C.'s clean energy sector. British Columbia offers rebates and incentives for the purchase of qualifying clean energy vehicles and scrappage of gas-powered vehicles.  Depending on the type of clean energy vehicle, purchasers can receive combined incentive and rebate of up to $11,000. Electric charging stations are being deployed across the province, making it possible for consumers to give real consideration to electric vehicles and as more hydrogen stations become operational, drivers can embrace further options. British Columbia is collaborating and investing in the development of new hydrogen networks as it continues to lead the charge for carbon-neutral transportation.

Hydrogen Technology and Energy Corporation (HTEC) has partnered with Shell to open Canada’s first retail hydrogen station in Vancouver, with plans to open five more stations in the lower mainland and Capital Region over the next 18 months. These stations will provide capacity to fuel 1,000 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). At the same time, the University of British Columbia has launched an RFP for the construction of a hydrogen fuelling station on campus, in conjunction with its Clean Energy Research Centre.  HTEC is also constructing an electrolysis facility, a renewable hydrogen fuel generation facility that will use clean B.C. hydroelectricity.

There is federal support for advancing energy research as well, especially since Canada's national energy group Generation Energy identified lower-carbon fossil fuel alternatives as critical for Canada's low-carbon future. A new study will examine the further feasibility of hydrogen production and export in British Columbia. The study is supported by the provincial government and BC Hydro and is a collaborative effort by ITM Power out of the U.K., Chiyoda Corporation and Mitsui & Co. Ltd. from Japan. 

Trade and Invest BC pursues strategic opportunities to promote British Columbia internationally and accelerate provincial exports, develop international partnerships, and increase awareness of local competitive advantages. To keep up with emerging trade developments in British Columbia, or to suggest content for blog posts, contact us on LinkedIn or Twitter.


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