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Squamish company announces plans to bring green hydrogen production to Vancouver Island

Quantum Technology and New Times Energy (NTE) Discovery Park sign an MOU to build hydrogen plants in Campbell River, which will produce hydrogen for use in ferries, buses, trucks, trains and cars.

Squamish hydrogen company Quantum Technology has announced an agreement with a Campbell River-based company to develop a green hydrogen production plant within the Vancouver Island community.

New Times Energy (NTE) Discovery Park and Quantum signed a memorandum of understanding on June 3, to build the plant, which will produce about 15 metric tons per day of green hydrogen gas and liquid, in the first pilot phase.

The hydrogen, processed using renewable electricity, is intended to provide fuel for ferries, buses, trucks, trains and cars on Vancouver Island, Powell River and for the Vancouver market.

By replacing their current modes of fuel with hydrogen, these modes of transportation will be able to achieve zero CO2 emissions, thus mitigating the effects of climate change. 

Other places are already doing this. The City of Edmonton has purchased and is testing new hydrogen-powered bus technology.

Hydrogen will also be blended as a small percentage of natural gas to further reduce CO2 emissions.

The plant will be in Discovery Park, an industrial site owned by the Campbell River company and located in that community.

"We're really excited about it—bringing green hydrogen to British Columbia is going to be a big game changer," said Calvin Winter, president of Quantum Technology, noting he personally drives a Toyota Mirai, a hydrogen-powered car, and rides a hydrogen-powered bicycle.

To put the 15 tonnes per day in perspective, Winter said that is enough to fill up 3,000 cars per day.

"You would be filling roughly 300 trucks a day. So essentially, all of the truck transit, that's going up and down the highway on Vancouver Island, could be hydrogen-powered."

For marine vessels, too, like BC Ferries, the advantages of hydrogen are many, Winter said.

"A hydrogen fuel cell is silent. You just take hydrogen gas, and feed it into a fuel cell, and you have electricity and no noise and no commotion and no problems. Very reliable," he said.

In terms of the blending of hydrogen with natural gas, Winter explained that in parts of Europe and Australia, natural gas is mixed with 15% hydrogen for use in homes for heat and for cooking. 

"As hydrogen burns ... it produces no carbon dioxide, so you can get a 15% reduction in your carbon dioxide footprint of the natural gas without any technology changes. You don't have to change anything in the houses; you don't have to change anything in the pipeline. It's just compatible."

Discovery Park

The park is approximately 486 hectares (1,200 acres) and includes land parcels, buildings, and warehouses for businesses to lease.

The site has its own electrical substation, which draws power from BC Hydro, sourced from a dam approximately six kilometres away from the site. The park also boasts a waste landfill that can handle hazardous substance disposal needs, a wastewater treatment facility, fresh water supply, and two deep water piers for dock usage and direct ocean water access, according to the NTE's website.

Currently, the property hosts data centres, modular construction, marine services, and steel fabrication, among other businesses.

The goal is to continue to transform the whole property into a green-tech hub, according to the site.

"The location is ideal because it has a port ... it has water available and it has a lot of electricity available from BC Hydro. So, already the infrastructure is there. And of course, the highway is there. So it's an ideal location to put a hydrogen electrolyzer."

Future phases

A news release also states that the companies intend to work with all stakeholders, including the First Nations on whose traditional territories the project is intended to be built.

The next step is for the partners to put together "a very detailed plan," Winter said, that will be presented to potential hydrogen consumers such as BC Ferries or BC Transit.

The idea is that a potential second phase would be a full-scale project with an expanded capacity that would deliver green liquid hydrogen to the Vancouver and Victoria regions for heavy transportation.

Long term, Winter said aviation is going down the hydrogen path, too.

"So, the jet aircraft of the future will be hydrogen-based. Batteries are kind of a competition with hydrogen for cars, but in the aircraft business, there's no competition. The hydrogen is way lighter than batteries will ever be, so long-distance aviation is clearly going to be hydrogen."

Why not build in Squamish?

While Squamish wasn't a possible option for this plant, Winter says having such a plant in the district is not off the table.

"We're in discussions with the District of Squamish, for putting a hydrogen facility here. So, it is something we are also in favour of. The Campbell River site is ready to go. We [could] start construction tomorrow," he said, adding it will take a bit longer for things to come to Squamish.


Winter acknowledges there's a "premium" to be paid to transition to hydrogen, but the ultimate cost of not transitioning is higher, he said.

"It's a choice. It's a political, economic choice. Are we willing to pay a small premium to go green to have zero CO2 emissions? [We have a] choice between the smoke-belching industry and the clean industry. And it's very clear that there  is a big advantage to going really green, and doing it in a sensible, cost-effective way."

Find out more about the Squamish company on its website.