Canada looks to take the lead in hydrogen


Canada has signalled its ambition to become a global leader in hydrogen, viewing it as a key part of its journey to net zero emissions by 2050.

On 16 December, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) launched a Hydrogen Strategy for Canada, underpinned by a $1.5bn Low-carbon and Zero-emissions Fuels Fund and complemented by a Clean Fuel Standard. It set out how hydrogen produced through Canada’s clean and abundant resources and diverse pathways can deliver 30% of its end-use energy by 2050, abating 190MtCO2 of greenhouse gases in the process through hydrogen deployment in all sectors, including transport, power, heating and industrial applications.

Every region of Canada is capable of using their unique resources to produce and deploy hydrogen domestically, with the potential for a $50bn domestic hydrogen sector with more than 350,000 new jobs, while also supply a growing export market, supplying the likes of Europe, Asia and the United States – all of which were highlighted as possibilities.

However, there are roadblocks that remain, such as a lack of sustained investment in innovation, which is hindering the development of technology required to support the production and use of hydrogen, along with the absence of clear, long-term policy signals that recognise hydrogen’s “essential role” in Canada’s net zero future.

It set out a series of key principles to build new hydrogen supply, including momentum and action, with Canada needing to act now so it is not left behind and there being a number of things it can give immediate focus, such as ensuring supply and demand grow at the same pace. Signature projects that can bring increased focus and be promoted internationally were highlighted as important,  as well as ensuring there is a strong domestic hydrogen market and hydrogen is produced with methods that have the lowest environmental impact.

It also stressed that Canada already has a burgeoning hydrogen industry which gives it a “significant competitive advantage” and should look to capitalise on this head start.

With this in mind, it made a series of recommendations to inform the development of concrete actions by all players and grow the hydrogen ecosystem in Canada, such as building strategic partnerships; boosting further R&D and developing research priorities in support of innovation; and de-risking investments through funding programs, long-term policies and the establishment of business models.

It recognises the need to modernise existing codes and standards to keep pace with the industry and remove barriers to deployment, as well as the need for enabling policies and regulations. Here, it said hydrogen should be integrated into clean energy roadmaps and strategies at all levels of government. Awareness must increase, with the strategy recommending taking a lead at a national level to ensure communities are aware of hydrogen’s safety, use and benefits. It also called for the development of regional hydrogen blueprints, identifying specific opportunities and plans for hydrogen production and end use, while noting the need to work with international partners to ensure the global push for clean fuels includes hydrogen.

Full implementation of the strategy, according to NRCan, will pave the way for Canada to become a world-leading supplier of clean hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, establish a pan-Canadian low carbon intensity hydrogen base for domestic and international consumption, and also support a nationwide hydrogen refuelling network with more than 5mn fuel-cell electric vehicles on the road.