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Vancouver conference kicks off with green hydrogen announcement

Salish Elements, Xaxli’p First Nation partner on hydrogen production project
B.C. Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Minister Josie Osborne at hy-fcell Canada conference.

A proposed 25-megawatt green hydrogen production plant to be developed in partnership with the Xaxli’p First Nation near Lillooet was announced Tuesday morning at the hy-fcell conference in Vancouver.

The conference, organized by the German business convention company Messe Stuttgart, focuses on the emerging hydrogen and fuel cell economy. Roughly 1,000 are registered for this year’s conference.

Canada is in the race to become a player in hydrogen production and use, and has some advantages.

As a hydrogen fuel cell innovation hub with ports that can serve Asia, B.C. is well-positioned to export hydrogen itself, as well as hydrogen technology, such as the fuel cells made by Ballard Power Systems (TSX, NASDAQ: BLDP) and hydrogen infrastructure and components made by HTEC.

“The hydrogen economy is really building momentum,” said Josie Osborne, B.C. minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovations, at a Tuesday morning panel.

She noted that 50 per cent of the hydrogen and fuel cell technology companies in Canada are in B.C.

Last year, the B.C. government set up the Clean Energy and Major Projects Office to help advance clean energy projects in B.C., including hydrogen technologies.

Osborne said there are currently 20 “significant” hydrogen projects proposed or under construction in B.C.

One of those projects – announced Tuesday – is the green hydrogen project proposed by the company Salish Elements, in partnership with the Xaxli’p First Nation.

Green hydrogen is made from water using renewable electricity.

Osborne suggested there are also opportunities for producing blue hydrogen, which is made from natural gas, but with the CO2 captured and sequestered or used.

“We’re well-positioned here in B.C. to become a leading hydrogen exporter because we have that low-cost clean electricity, we’ve got robust natural gas resources -- along with carbon capture and storage potential -- and we’re looking to target markets like China, Japan, South Korea, the Pacific Northwest,” Osborne said.

“Given the proximity that we have to these export markets, B.C. can capture a significant portion of the global hydrogen market.”

As for the domestic market for hydrogen, Osborne pointed to HTEC’s $900 million plan to build 20 hydrogen fueling stations throughout B.C., mainly to support the fueling of heavy duty vehicles.

“B.C. has entered into four different agreements with HTEC, and those agreements are valued at up to $133 million, and they are supporting the construction of key parts of H2’s gateway,” Osborne said.

“To continue to grow the hydrogen market here at home, we need to continue to kickstart production, and we need to ensure, of course, that there is sufficient demand that can meet that developing supply.”

“This is going to require both funding and focused policies that build that demand. And it means that our government needs to derisk projects by providing clear regulatory support and policy tools.”

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