Ontario government launches $15-million Hydrogen Innovation Fund

Feb 21, 2023 | Canadian News, News

The provincial government is providing $15 million to get hydrogen into Ontario’s clean electricity system.

The fund will support growth in Ontario’s hydrogen economy, according to a Feb. 6, 2023, news release from the province,

“This launch marks another milestone in the implementation of the province’s Low-Carbon Hydrogen Strategy, positioning Ontario as a clean manufacturing hub,” the statement said.

The Independent Electricity System Operator, a Crown corporation that coordinates Ontario’s electricity system, will begin accepting applications from electric companies for funding in April.

The statement cited data from Natural Resources Canada that predicted hydrogen may make up 30 per cent of Canada’s fuel by 2050. Benefiting Ontario specifically, it may also make up to 100,000 jobs in the province, it said.

The statement said Niagara, Halton Hills, Nanticoke, Brighton Beach and Lambton could one day become hydrogen hubs. They would take advantage of those places’ demand for low-carbon hydrogen and put it in a place where the necessary infrastructure and access to Ontario’s clean electricity grid already exists.

David Piccini, Ontario’s minister of the environment, said the government will help Ontario become a green manufacturing and transport hub, and be the best in Canada at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“As a fuel that can be produced and used with little to no greenhouse gas emissions, hydrogen has tremendous potential to help us meet our long-term economic and environmental goals,” Piccini said in the news release.

He said the Ontario government wants to see investment in new, green technology.

The media release said the investments will build on Ontario’s clean energy advantage as the government progresses with its Low-Carbon Hydrogen Strategy. It outlines eight “concrete actions to make Ontario a leader in the latest frontier of energy innovation – the hydrogen economy,” it said.

“This is [a] good start, but very very slow,” Prof. Michael Fowler, with the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo, told Humber News in an email, commenting on the Hydrogen Innovation Fund.

He co-authored a paper entitled “Hydrogen economy transition plan: A case study on Ontario,” which said developing the right infrastructure to produce, store, distribute, and use hydrogen is crucial to creating a hydrogen economy.

“By strategically developing the infrastructure, hydrogen technologies can store surplus electricity from renewables to reduce the need for curtailment, be blended into a natural gas network to reduce its associated GHG emissions and be used in fuel cells or hydrogen engines to effectively and cleanly power light and heavy transportation,” the case study said.

It said a hydrogen economy could lower carbon emissions and give more certain kinds of renewable power generation.

The case study offered recommendations, in the short term, for Ontario to be able to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Hydrogen refuelling infrastructure on Highway 401 and 400 Corridors, electrolysis for the industrial sector, rail infrastructure and hydrogen locomotives, and hydrogen infrastructure for energy hubs and microgrids are included in strategies for the near term,” the case study said.

It added the recommendations will allow more larger trucks and heavy vehicles to become hydrogen-powered.

It also said a hydrogen economy can help the United Nations meet its Sustainable Development Goals, which includes reducing carbon levels.

The provincial government is also supporting work on a new low-carbon hydrogen production project.

Atura Power, a subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation that operates four combined cycle gas turbine stations, is leading the development of this facility. This project could help Ontario produce eight times as much hydrogen as before.

Water at the Sir Adam Beck generating station in Niagara Falls, Ont., will be used to make renewable hydroelectricity for a hydrogen electrolyzer system.

Atura Power said in an Oct. 6, 2022, statement that this system will use electricity to separate hydrogen and oxygen molecules from water.

“This carbon-free green hydrogen will then be provided to industrial customers for immediate consumption, and transported and blended into the fuel stream at Atura Power’s Halton Hills Generating Station, creating cleaner electricity for Ontario,” the statement said.

Atura has selected Cummins Inc. to design and build a 20-megawatt (MW) electrolyzer system for its Niagara Hydrogen Centre. With the electrolyzer system being built at Cummins’ Mississauga facility, Niagara will be home to the first “20-megawatt green hydrogen facility” in Ontario.

“The Niagara Hydrogen Centre is our flagship facility that will set the pace for our green and low-carbon hydrogen projects,” said Shelley Babin, president and CEO of Atura Power.

The Niagara facility is expected to open early next year.

“An enabler of clean energy, the company is positioned to help build the hydrogen economy in Ontario. Low-carbon hydrogen will be an important tool in the fight against climate change,” the statement said.