B.C. partnering on provincewide hydrogen refuelling network

Nanaimo, Burnaby, Prince George, North Vancouver tabbed for HTEC’s H2 Gateway project facilities
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Hydrogen-powered vehicles could become more common on B.C. roads, especially in Nanaimo, which is one of three cities selected to produce hydrogen for a provincewide hydrogen fuel production and distribution network. (Photo submitted)

The province is partnering on a hydrogen fuel production and distribution network that could provide hundreds of jobs across B.C. and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 130,000 tonnes a year.

HTEC, a Vancouver-based firm specializing in clean fuels production, distribution and zero-emissions transportation, plans to build and operate an intra-provincial network of 20 hydrogen refuelling stations – 18 in B.C. – called the H2 Gateway Project, according to an announcement by the province Friday, May 24.

Supplying those stations will be three new electrolyzers that split water into hydrogen and oxygen in Nanaimo, Burnaby and Prince George, plus a new facility that will liquefy 15 tonnes per day of byproduct hydrogen in North Vancouver.

“We know the cost of inaction on climate change is not just in the price of responding to extreme weather like forest fires,” said Premier David Eby in a press release. “Inaction would also cost us new jobs, new investment and new opportunities in growing a cleaner economy. We can’t afford to miss this economic opportunity. That’s why we’re supporting job-creating clean-energy hydrogen projects that will drive new investment and reduce pollution.”

It is estimated the H2 projects will create more than 280 full-time jobs to build, operate and support the hydrogen infrastructure and support development of regional hydrogen hubs where production and use can be co-located to lower costs and maximize benefits for local economies.

Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles can travel long distances and have relatively short refuelling times. Fourteen of the new stations will allow refuelling of up to 300 heavy-duty vehicles per day, with an estimated emission reductions of 133,000 tonnes annually.

Josie Osborne, minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation, said supporting innovative projects like H2 Gateway reinforces B.C.’s environmental leadership.

“Producing clean fuels like hydrogen right here in B.C. to replace diesel use for transportation helps to reduce harmful pollution while creating new jobs and opportunities in the clean economy,” said the minister.

Under four low carbon fuel standard initiative agreements valued at up to $133 million, HTEC will construct hydrogen fuelling stations in key communities, a green hydrogen production facility in Burnaby and byproduct hydrogen production in North Vancouver. Under the agreements, fuel suppliers are awarded credits for undertakings that increase use of low-carbon fuels or reduce carbon intensity of a low-carbon fuel.

Total cost of the H2 Gateway projects will be about $900 million, with the province supporting the projects through B.C.’s low carbon fuel standard. The Canada Infrastructure Bank has also announced a $337-million loan to expedite and expand HTEC’s operations, accelerate implementation of hydrogen technology and help mitigate uncertainty over the rate and pace of hydrogen adoption, which have historically been barriers to private investment in sustainable fuel production and infrastructure.

Colin Armstrong, HTEC president and CEO, said in the release that the initiative agreements under the low carbon fuel sandard are integral to the success of the company’s fuelling network in B.C. and “ambitious, transformative projects” like H2 Gateway.

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In 2021, B.C. became the first province in Canada to create a comprehensive hydrogen strategy. More than 50 per cent of Canada’s hydrogen and fuel-cell companies are in B.C., and the province accounts for approximately 60 per cent of research investment in hydrogen and fuel-cell development, the release noted. There are approximately 50 proposed projects in the hydrogen sector in B.C., ranging range from large-scale production facilities to hydrogen fuelling stations and heavy-duty trucking pilots.