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HTEC to trial commercial hydrogen trucks

Province kicks in $16.5 million for pilot project to test hydrogen trucks
A Westport hydrogen truck, displayed at LNG 2023 conference earlier this year.| Nelson Bennett

Before long-haul fleet operators run out and buy the latest, untested hydrogen fuel cell truck, they may want to wait to see what comes of a pilot project that HTEC will be running on various hydrogen powered commercial trucks.

The B.C. hydrogen fueling company plans to buy six different hydrogen powered trucks and test them for fleet operators.

The program is getting $16.5 million in funding from the provincial government. As part of the pilot project, HTEC will upgrade its existing hydrogen-fuelling station in Tsawwassen and a maintenance facility in Abbotsford.

As BIV News has detailed, long-haul trucking poses a serious challenge for decarbonization. Battery electric power just isn’t an option, due to the heavy loads and long distances that semi trucks must travel, and biofuels can also be a problem due to engine fouling.

Hydrogen is one of the few options for zero or low emission power for large commercial semi trucks, as it provides the energy density needed for trucks to carry heavy loads over long distances -- something battery electric just can't provide.

There are variations on hydrogen trucks. There are hydrogen fuel cell systems, which use hydrogen in fuel cells to produce electricity, and there are hybrid internal combustion engines that burn a blend of hydrogen and conventional fuels, like diesel, to lower their emissions. When burned, hydrogen produces no CO2 emissions.

It’s not clear whether, as part of its pilot program, HTEC will be testing both hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen combustion engines.

“B.C. is already leading Canada in the switch to zero-emission vehicles for personal transportation, with a record number of British Columbians choosing to go electric,” Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, said in a news release.

“Today’s announcement will kick start the use of hydrogen-powered trucks for commercial transportation across the province, helping to get businesses off fossil fuels and build a clean economy.”

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