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B.C. company receives hundreds of millions to expand hydrogen fuel stations

Vancouver-based HTEC to build up to 18 hydrogen fuel stations in B.C., two in Alberta
HTEC, which currently operates five hydrogen fuels stations in B.C., Friday received hundreds of millions of dollars to build up to 20 such stations across western Canada with 18 in B.C. and two in Alberta. (Submitted).

A project worth $900 million is set to establish hydrogen refueling stations across western Canada with most of them in B.C.

Premier David Eby and Josie Osborne, B.C.’s minister of energy and mines, joined Jonathan Wilkinson, federal natural resources minister, Friday (May 24) in North Vancouver to help announce plans by HTEC to build up to 20 stations with 18 in B.C. and two in Alberta.

The Vancouver-based company represented by CEO Colin Armstrong currently operates five hydrogen stations in B.C. and is receiving government support to expand its network. Canada Infrastructure Bank represented by chief investment officer John Casola is loaning the company $337 million. B.C. is supporting the project through four Low Carbon Fuel Standard Initiative Agreements valued at $133 million. Under these agreements fuel suppliers receive credits for increasing the use of low-carbon fuels or reducing the carbon intensity of low-carbon fuels.

Three new electrolyzers located in Burnaby, Nanaimo and Prince George supply the hydrogen.

The stations plus the electrolyzers are estimated to create more than 280-full time jobs and expected to stimulate the emergence of regional hydrogen hubs.

Eby said the project will not only help B.C. fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also create a cleaner economy.

“We can’t afford to miss this economic opportunity,” he said. “That’s why we’re supporting job-creating clean-energy hydrogen projects that will drive new investment and reduce pollution.”

Armstrong welcomed the funding. “Ambitious, transformative projects like H2 Gateway would not happen without a strong strategic and foundational partnership like the one we have with (B.C.).”

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Friday’s announcement is the latest hydrogen-related announcement, which has seen B.C. take a lead.

In 2021, it became the first province in Canada to launch a hydrogen strategy because of its economic and environmental potential. It increasingly replaces climate-change-causing materials across multiple sectors, including steel-making and transportation. Government argues B.C. can become a leading producer of “green” hydrogen because almost all of the electricity needed to create hydrogen comes from renewable, hydro-based energy.

According to government, B.C. is home to 50 per cent of Canada’s hydrogen and fuel-cell companies, accounting for about 60 per cent of research investment in hydrogen and fuel-cell development. Some 50 projects representing what government calls “billions” of potential investment are in the pipeline.

B.C.’s Energy Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Ministry, however, could not provide specific figures about hydrogen’s share in the provincial energy mix. The hydrogen strategy estimates B.C. could produce more than 2.2 million tonnes per year by 2030. By comparison, it currently produces 5.38 billion cubic feet natural gas per year, according to federal figures.

The ministry said that B.C. companies, such as Powertech Labs, the University of British Columbia and Tidewater Renewables currently produce a limited amount of hydrogen, primarily for research and design, or in the production of biofuels.

The ministry added hydrogen will play an important role in the future, but available figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency suggest that future might be some time away. According to IREA, all available hydrogen produced around the world would meet about three per cent of global energy demand.

Barriers limiting the widespread adoption of hydrogen include the cost of electricity and the absence of infrastructure.

RELATED: Infrastructure bank lends $75M to BC Ferries for zero-emission vessels

Friday’s announcement is the third major announcement this week in B.C. involving the Canada Infrastructure Bank, a federal Crown corporation designed to help companies overcome high upfront costs.

On Thursday, CIB announced a $150 million loan to Prince Rupert Port Authority toward the creation of a new logistics hub in Canada’s third-largest port.

On Wednesday, CIB announced that it is loaning B.C. Ferries $75 million to help purchase four zero-emission ferries and install the required charging infrastructure.

The electrified Island class vessels replace diesel-hybrid vessels currently serving smaller routes.

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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