The provincial and federal governments announced a deal with Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. on June 9 to build the newest addition to the Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub: a $1.3 billion hydrogen production facility in northeast Edmonton.
Air Products is aiming to have the facility up and running by 2024, which will produce both gas and liquid blue hydrogen with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions to be used as transportation fuel and in other industrial processes, the company said in a press release.
"We are paving the way for hydrogen from Edmonton to meet industrial and transportation needs throughout western Canada," said Seifi Ghasemi, Air Products' CEO.
Most of Alberta's hydrogen capacity is for blue hydrogen, which is produced by converting natural gas through a process called steam methane reforming, which emits carbon dioxide — coupled with carbon capture or sequestration. This is in contrast to green hydrogen, which is produced by converting water and has zero emissions.
Mayor Don Iveson praised the project, explaining that expanding hydrogen production will help the region's economy, and get the City of Edmonton closer to meeting its emissions reduction targets, since hydrogen can replace more carbon-intensive fuels like natural gas.
"We need many, many pathways to get to net-zero by 2050, but hydrogen is a big one," he said.
Iveson is a member of the leadership team for the Hydrogen Hub, which was set up in April to be a launching point for projects that can help develop a regional hydrogen economy. He said this will become increasingly critical for the region as the world transitions from carbon-intensive energy sources.
"I've unwaveringly been a strong advocate for investments like these, because I believe they are the key to ensuring our economic prosperity," he said, adding that the project would create an estimated 2,500 construction and engineering jobs, and contribute to local tax revenues.
Alberta already produces about 5.4 kilotonnes of hydrogen gas per day, according to a November 2020 report written by Alberta's Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force — a group set up by The Transition Accelerator in conjunction with four Edmonton-area mayors, including Iveson.
The liquid hydrogen that will be produced can be burned as fuel or converted into electricity, in processes that only emit water and small amounts of heat — so no greenhouse gases.