Hydrogen is the most abundant molecule in the universe, often found with other elements like oxygen in water (H2O) or carbon in methane (CH4). Hydrogen can be made from a range of sources, but natural gas is the most common. Hydrogen is a clean fuel that when combusted, produces only water and heat.

Hydrogen 101 explains hydrogen sources, production, storage and transportation.

Alberta hydrogen

Canada ranks in the top 10 of global hydrogen producers. Alberta is the largest hydrogen producer in Canada. In 2018, Alberta produced approximately 2.4 million tonnes of hydrogen per year for various industrial applications, including oil upgrading and refining, as well as chemical manufacturing.

Building on existing hydrogen production experience and through new clean hydrogen production methods, Alberta is looking to be a clean hydrogen supplier-of-choice. Alberta is supportive of all clean hydrogen production pathways to meet the province’s economic and environmental goals. As long as produced hydrogen has a low carbon intensity, Alberta is encouraging of all production pathways.

Alberta has the potential to be one of the lowest-cost producers of hydrogen in the world. Advantages specific to hydrogen production and export include:

  • Low-cost natural gas
  • Favorable geology for carbon capture with active carbon capture, utilization and storage projects
  • Growing renewable sector to support electrolytic hydrogen production
  • Other resources and feedstocks (for example, biomass, small modular reactors) to supports other emerging methods of clean hydrogen production
  • An extensive and integrated pipeline network to leverage for hydrogen transportation
  • Existing companies that have invested in hydrogen-based industrial processes and skilled and experienced workforce
  • Committed funding to encourage innovation, new technologies and greenhouse gas research
  • Close proximity to international markets (for example, California and Asia-Pacific) aiming to import hydrogen

Environmental benefits

When combusted, hydrogen produces no greenhouse gas emissions. Given growing global concerns about climate change, there is significant global interest in using hydrogen within hard-to-electrify sectors, including industrial processes, heavy-duty transportation, and heating markets.

Hydrogen has a strong potential to provide environmental benefits for Alberta. These include reductions to our greenhouse gas emissions across the province, which reduces negative impacts and environmental costs to human health and biodiversity.

Alberta’s Hydrogen Roadmap set Measures of Success, which include emissions reduction of 14 megatonnes of greenhouse gases per year from integrating clean hydrogen into Alberta’s markets by 2030. Most of the reduction in emissions is anticipated to come from integrating clean, low carbon hydrogen into industrial processes. While emissions reductions by 2030 represent a solid starting point, between 2030 and 2050, hydrogen could contribute to greater greenhouse gas emissions reductions as hydrogen deployment gains momentum across the province.

Clean hydrogen exports from Alberta can help decarbonize Canadian, North American, and global markets, meeting decarbonization goals of jurisdictions across the world.

Safety

Alberta has been producing and using hydrogen safely for over 50 years.

Hydrogen is considered safe to handle compared to other fuels used today but precautions are still needed. If released under normal atmospheric pressure conditions, hydrogen is non-toxic and disperses quickly. However, hydrogen gas is highly flammable and can ignite more easily compared to natural gas. Hydrogen flames are difficult to detect because it burns with an invisible flame, lacking any odour.

Alberta will be working with national and international standards settings groups to ensure hydrogen use remains safe going into the future and safeguards are put in place for new applications of hydrogen.

Markets

Hydrogen has several end uses, including:

  • exports
  • heating
  • industrial processes
  • power generation and storage
  • vehicle transportation.

Learn more about hydrogen markets.

Alberta’s Hydrogen Roadmap, introduced these markets, Alberta is focused on producing clean hydrogen and providing this as a clean energy option for domestic use and for exports. The roadmap includes policy pillars that support the growth of clean hydrogen across target industries.

The hydrogen economy is expected to bring both widespread direct and indirect economic benefits to the province. As world-scale hydrogen projects are developed, new employment opportunities are expected for professionals, scientists, and trades while other jobs transition to the new hydrogen economy.

Commitment in the roadmap:

  • to enable carbon capture, utilization and storage, and de-risk investment for clean hydrogen production. The province is currently advancing carbon sequestration hubs. These hubs are being established as part of the province’s commitment to offering companies opportunities to reduce their emissions. Alberta is looking at issuing carbon sequestration rights through a competitive process that enables the development of these carbon storage hubs. Learn more about Carbon Sequestration Tenure Management.
  • to enable access to capital for clean hydrogen investment and support technology and innovation across the hydrogen value chain. Both actions support the power generation and storage sector.
  • to advancing fuel switching and refuelling infrastructure for hydrogen transportation in partnership with federal and municipal governments. The roadmap has also committed to supporting feasibility studies, pilot projects, and demonstration projects.
  • to enabling hydrogen blending into natural gas distribution systems, while piloting higher concentrations of hydrogen blending and pure hydrogen networks in contained areas such as isolated portions of the natural gas network.

By 2030, Alberta aims to integrate hydrogen transportation on a large scale, a number of projects are already underway, see economic opportunities for a listing of current hydrogen investment.

Contact

Connect with the Natural Gas Strategy and Engagement Branch:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Email: [email protected]:

Mailing Address:
Alberta Energy
Natural Gas Strategy and Engagement Branch
6th Floor, North Petroleum Plaza
9945 108 Street*
Edmonton, Alberta  T5K 2G6

* Couriers, please report to the 2nd floor.

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