Canada launches strategy to become global hydrogen leader

18 December 2020

The Canadian government has launched a strategy that sees low-carbon and zero-emission hydrogen fuel technology as a key part of the nation's path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The strategy is underpinned by a federal investment of CAD1.5 billion (USD1.2 billion) in a Low-carbon and Zero-emissions Fuels Fund to increase the production and use of low-carbon fuels, including hydrogen.

(Image: NRCan)

"Hydrogen's moment has come. The economic and environmental opportunities for our workers and communities are real. There is global momentum, and Canada is harnessing it," Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O'Regan said as he a launched the strategy on 16 December.

Hydrogen Strategy for Canada is designed to spur investment and partnerships to establish Canada as a global supplier of hydrogen and to increase domestic production. This will transform the Canadian energy sector, NRCan - the federal department of natural resources - said.

Canada is currently one of the top ten global producers of hydrogen, producing an estimated 3 million tonnes per year and the country will benefit from the growing global demand for hydrogen in a market that is expected to reach almost CAD12 trillion by 2050, NRCan said. The strategy will also be complemented by the Clean Fuel Standard, which will further drive investment and growth in Canada's fuels sector by incentivising the development and adoption of clean fuels such as hydrogen.

Hydrogen production in Canada is expected to be based on a mix of pathways. "The aggregate hydrogen demand projected in 2050 highlights the need for Canada to explore all low-carbon intensity hydrogen production opportunities," it says, adding that there are "synergies" between hydrogen production, nuclear and renewable electricity. "Hydrogen can be produced via electrolysis using off-peak nuclear electricity in the near term, while high-temperature thermal processes or coupling with small modular reactors are viable in the longer term. Hydrogen can also play a role in daily to seasonal storage of variable renewable resources, enabling a higher penetration of intermittent renewables on the grid.

The strategy is the culmination of three years of research and analysis with input from 1,500 leading experts and stakeholders including workers, industry, other levels of government, Indigenous organisations and academia. It will support the Government of Canada's recently announced climate plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, and also builds on the development and launch of the hydrogen initiative by 23 countries at the 10th Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in May 2019, NRCan said.

The strategy sets out 32 recommendations across eight pillars: Strategic Partnerships; De-Risking of Investments; Innovation; Codes and Standards; Enabling Policies and Regulation; Awareness; Regional Blueprints; and International Markets. These recommendations will inform the development of concrete action plans in the implementation phase which is to begin immediately.

"As we rebuild our economy from the impactsof COVID-19 and fight the existential threat of climate change, the development of low-carbon hydrogen is a strategic priority for Canada. The time to act is now," O'Regan said in the foreword to the strategy.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News