Wheatland County talks hydrogen development

·2 min read

Wheatland County has opened discussions with its stakeholders regarding the potential to see investments in hydrogen-based energy developed within the local region.

A stakeholder meeting was held with the Canadian Hydrogen Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA) at the Wheatland County Administration Office on Aug. 9 to propose the county as a viable location for industry investment, as well as to better understand how hydrogen fuel will be implemented and why they say it’s a good idea.

Jamie Kramble, economic development officer for Wheatland County, explained the County’s overall goal within the hydrogen economy is to grow the local economic base, generate tax revenue and create high value employment opportunities.

“Wheatland County is holding a session because we are interested in the hydrogen industry and trying to develop an industry,” said Kramble. “We’ve examined many different sectors and hydrogen seems to be something that we believe is going to grow and become more important.”

The County is promoting itself as an attractive location to invest, as it boasts low municipal (non-residential) tax rates, what it refers to as a generous tax incentive for large investors and maintains a close proximity to Calgary and Strathmore.

CHFCA Western Canada Regional Director Matthew Klippenstein, added energy discussions are beginning to shift to hydrogen as a renewable energy source as Canadian and global carbon neutrality goals become ever more ambitious.

“The reason that we are talking about hydrogen today as opposed to 20 years from now, or 20 years ago, is that when governments were making targets in terms of emissions reductions, hydrogen wasn’t really needed for the first steps,” said Klippenstein. “As soon as you have aggressive policies to try and get to net zero emissions, you need an absolutely huge amount of hydrogen.”

According to Klippenstein, Canada’s ultimate goal is to bring its hydrogen capacity up to account for 30 per cent of its fuel usage and demand by 2050.

Markus Lehmann, hydrogen specialist for Wheatland County, explained that over the next decade or two, the energy industry is projected to shift dramatically in favour of a hydrogen resource as the infrastructure becomes more prominent and Canada leans into its carbon net-zero goals.

“Over the past 10 to 15 years there has been a trajectory of hydrogen growth of approximately one per cent per annum. That growth from 2022 forward will go into a very Canadian scope and will climb (exponentially) from approximately 100 megatons per year … up to 600 megatons per year by 2050,” said Lehmann. “We are looking at extensive growth and this is not a one-off growth projection by an astute analysis. These are across-the-board analyses that are taking place.”

Lehmann added that Wheatland County is in a favourable position to capitalize on the transition to hydrogen power. The next step is to attract and secure local investment.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times