Here's how hydrogen could be a key part of BC's energy future

Feb 27 2023, 6:59 pm

We all know there’s an urgent need for immediate climate action. The world needs to reduce emissions quickly, and all current options have their strengths and weaknesses. Here in BC, how do we solve our part of the problem? Hydrogen is one option.

“Hydrogen is an exciting prospect for climate action,” says John Quinn, senior manager of renewable gas supply with FortisBC. “As the name suggests, the only element it contains is hydrogen. This means it’s completely carbon-free and doesn’t produce any carbon dioxide emissions when burned. That alone means it has the potential to help BC take meaningful climate action, quickly.”

FortisBC is now taking its first steps into exploring hydrogen more fully, starting with the very infrastructure it intends to deliver the hydrogen with.

FortisBC has invested $500,000 with the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) campus for dedicated hydrogen research, working to understand how to safely blend hydrogen with natural gas. The lab is scheduled to open this spring and researchers will explore how hydrogen can be delivered safely to British Columbians.

Hydrogen is an extremely abundant element, and a recent study shared that by 2050, BC’s entire gas supply could be supplied by renewable and low-carbon energy sources, including hydrogen and Renewable Natural Gas (RNG).

And, instead of building a whole new network to deliver it, FortisBC can use existing natural gas lines to deliver hydrogen to homes and businesses throughout the province.

As FortisBC decreases the amount of conventional natural gas in its system, it’s working to replace it with more lower carbon or renewable gases such as RNG and hydrogen, while continuing to meet the energy needs of over one million homes and businesses throughout BC.

With the BC government’s support, FortisBC is also teaming up with Suncor Energy and Hazer Group Limited on a pilot project to produce zero-carbon hydrogen.

Located in Port Moody, BC, a first-of-its-kind technology in North America will not only extract hydrogen from natural gas, but will also capture the remaining carbon instead of letting it escape into the atmosphere. The technology will store the carbon as solid graphite, a product that can then be sold on the open market for manufacturing or industrial uses.

The future for hydrogen in North America is bright. Along with RNG, hydrogen provides an avenue for FortisBC to decarbonize its gas system and reduce emissions using existing infrastructure and fewer impacts to British Columbians.

Introducing hydrogen into BC’s energy system is just one of the ways FortisBC is working towards energy for a better BC.

Check out some of the other work that FortisBC is doing to decarbonize the gas system and help its customers lower their energy use.

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