British Columbia’s natural gas-friendly government is taking fire for introducing a new hydrogen strategy, the first to be introduced by any Canadian province, that emphasizes “blue” hydrogen production from methane-heavy gas alongside “green” hydrogen development meant to reduce emissions and produce cleantech jobs.
“While B.C.’s new strategy promises to ramp up production of green hydrogen, made from the province’s abundant renewable energy resources, it also encourages continued development of natural gas for the production of blue hydrogen, which still has significant greenhouse gas emissions,” Karen Tam Wu, the Pembina Institute’s B.C. regional director, said in a release.
By failing to prioritize green hydrogen production, the strategy “misses B.C.’s clear regional opportunity to build a hydrogen economy on a renewable energy foundation rather than on fossil fuels and maximize the potential climate benefits hydrogen has to offer,” she added.
Bruce Ralston, the province’s minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation, said Tuesday the strategy will count on government, industry, and “innovators” to help achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, The Canadian Press reports.
In the short term, he said the province aims to set up regional hydrogen hubs to supply fuel to industries and consumers, while increasing the numbers of medium and heavy-duty vehicles powered by hydrogen on highways and at industrial sites.
Ralston said hydrogen produces no carbon emissions when burned or used in a fuel cell and is considered a climate-friendly solution to industrial activities where the use of electricity is not practical. CP writes that the B.C. plan would support the so-called green pathway, using hydroelectricity to create the fuel, but Ralston said blue hydrogen initiatives could also be explored.
Tam Wu warned that B.C.’s gas sector produces the highest amount of carbon pollution in the province, at 20% of total emissions.
Ralston acknowledged B.C.’s previous attempts to embrace the technology more than a decade ago, including plans for a hydrogen highway from B.C. to California, were ahead of their time. He said they’re now better positioned to succeed in a province that is a global leader in the area, with more than half of Canada’s hydrogen and fuel cell companies and about 60% of its research investment.
The ministry estimates hydrogen could reduce B.C.’s emissions by 7.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050.
The main body of this report was first published by The Canadian Press July 6, 2021.