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Low-carbon hydrogen production plant pilot planned for British Columbia

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A new pilot project in Port Moody will produce zero-carbon hydrogen, furthering the trend toward the production of lower-carbon gases in British Columbia.

A partnership between FortisBC Energy, Suncor Energy, and Hazer Group will introduce a revolutionary new technology to the province that will manufacture hydrogen from natural gas that burns cleanly.

The project, located near Suncor’s Burrard Terminal, would produce hydrogen while storing the carbon waste as solid synthetic graphite that may be sold on the open market for manufacturing or industrial usage. If the pilot continues as a full commercial build out, it is anticipated that the project will create up to 2,500 tons of hydrogen annually. This is equivalent to approximately 300,000 gigajoules of clean-burning gas energy, which may replace the yearly natural gas use of nearly 3,300 British Columbia families.

“FortisBC is transforming BC’s energy future. While we are in the early stages of an exciting energy transformation with this hydrogen project, innovative partnerships like this will help accelerate that change. Renewable and low carbon gases, like hydrogen, are instrumental in reducing greenhouse gas emissions effectively and affordably while ensuring we have a resilient and diversified energy system for British Columbians,” said Roger Dall’Antonia, president and CEO of FortisBC.

Hydrogen is a unique source of energy as its combustion creates no carbon dioxide. It can be manufactured in a variety of ways, including electrolysis (using electricity to separate hydrogen from water) and separation from natural gas. Hydrogen produced from natural gas with the carbon byproduct collected as solid carbon is referred to as “turquoise” hydrogen, because its lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions are significantly lower and more readily managed.

“Innovative technologies such as the Hazer Process offer enormous potential to create new economic opportunities while supporting the de-carbonization objectives of FortisBC and the province. We are delighted to work with FortisBC, Suncor and the government of B.C. on this innovative project which will be a world-leading example of the application of methane pyrolysis,” said Geoff Ward, CEO and managing director of Hazer.

The project is sponsored directly by the collaborating companies and by the CleanBC Industry Fund of the provincial government. The Fund promotes initiatives that promote creative solutions for industry greenhouse gas emissions, such as renewable and low-carbon gases. The provincial government has placed a clear emphasis on the significance of hydrogen in the province, releasing the provincial hydrogen strategy in 2021 and established the B.C. Hydrogen Office to expedite the development of hydrogen projects.

“Hydrogen is critical to our transition to a cleaner, low-carbon energy system. We are supporting innovation like the Hazer Process with B.C. Hydrogen Strategy and CleanBC,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “The Hazer Process is helping us achieve our climate goals while supporting good-paying jobs for British Columbians”. 

FortisBC’s continued efforts to decarbonize the gas system are dependent on the incorporation of hydrogen into its renewable and low-carbon gas supply. Both this project and the University of British Columbia-Okanagan are conducting ongoing research on how to incorporate hydrogen into the existing gas infrastructure. According to a recent study commissioned by the provincial government, FortisBC, and the BC Bioenergy Network, the potential for hydrogen production in the province might approach 200 petajoules by 2050 – about enough gas to totally replace current levels of natural gas.

“Hydrogen has the potential be a significant part of the future energy mix and is a key part of Suncor’s strategy to be a net zero GHG emissions company by 2050,” said Kris Smith, executive vice president Downstream, Suncor. “We appreciate the B.C. government’s support for the development work on this project. And we look forward to continuing to work together on this project that, if sanctioned, will bring low carbon intensity hydrogen supply to the Greater Vancouver Area.”

Nedim Husomanovic

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