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The global hydrogen market is expected to reach $2.5 trillion by 2050

“We already have the talented workers, the expertise and the pipelines to succeed,” said Alanna Hnatiw, Mayor of Sturgeon Country and Chair of the Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB.

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As the world moves towards a low-carbon future, hydrogen is looming on the horizon – because when burned to release energy, it creates zero greenhouse gases.

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David Layzell, energy systems architect and director of research at The Transition Accelerator, a Canadian organization that promotes pathways for Canada to reach Net-Zero by 2050, says hydrogen – like electricity , natural gas or gasoline – is really an energy carrier.

Layzell says hydrogen can be produced in one place and then transported by various means to where it is needed. He says a viable hydrogen industry in Alberta and Canada will most likely succeed in combination with electricity, which is well established and can be generated from sources like solar, wind or hydro.

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According to Layzell, small passenger electric vehicles are already well equipped with rechargeable batteries, but a hydrogen fuel cell is the best zero-emission solution for powering large transport vehicles like transport trucks, buses, trains, ships or planes.

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“It’s hard to see who is carrying enough batteries,” he said.

Another good use for hydrogen would be heating large, remote facilities, as it is expensive to build a sufficient power grid to handle winter heating loads, which are then underutilized the rest of the year.

Layzell says hydrogen currently lacks the transportation infrastructure of other energy carriers, such as the electric grid or natural gas pipelines, but Canada already produces around 8,000 to 9,000 tonnes of hydrogen per day, Alberta being responsible for two-thirds.

Hydrogen from Alberta is currently used as an industrial feedstock, for example when combined with nitrogen to make fertilizing ammonia.

“We mainly use hydrogen [now] change the chemistry of materials. The hydrogen economy consists in extending the use of hydrogen so that it becomes an energy carrier or a fuel in its own right.

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“So we will use it to generate electricity in a fuel cell, to heat a house or heat water, we will use it where we would normally use gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and natural gas. It’s a whole new energy system we’re building here,” Layzell says. “And we can probably only do it once every 80 to 100 years.”

The Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB alliance is working to launch a hydrogen economy that could serve as a model for others in Canada.

HUB President and Sturgeon Country Mayor Alanna Hnatiw said the region is one of the cheapest places in the world to make low-carbon hydrogen and the global hydrogen market is expected to be worth up to $2.5 trillion by 2050.

“We already have the talented workers, the expertise and the pipelines to succeed,” says Hnatiw. “This is good news for the economy, the climate and job creation.”

Many projects have already been announced and more were unveiled at the first Canadian Hydrogen Convention held recently in Edmonton.

Hnatiw says the goal is to attract, create and pivot companies capable of manufacturing goods that produce, move and use hydrogen, such as trucks, fuel cells, buses, production electricity and pipeline technology, “leading to even more jobs and economic benefits for our communities”.

This story was created by Content Works, the business content division of Postmedia.

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