Hydrogen is being promoted as a potential low-emitting alternative fuel source to combat climate change. Interest in a Canadian clean hydrogen industry is growing, with plans for low or zero-emissions hydrogen projects taking shape across the country. The Canadian hydrogen industry produces an estimated three million tonnes of hydrogen per year from natural gas, but the Canadian government aims to have 30% of end-use energy be from clean hydrogen by 2050. Hydrogen is currently being used as a material in industrial activities such as oil refining and ammonia, methanol, and steel production. When used in a fuel cell, hydrogen can produce electricity for transportation, heating, and power generation without emitting harmful emissions. However, hydrogen is far from a low-emissions fuel, with global hydrogen production emitting 900 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2021, largely from fossil fuel sources. The emissions capacity of hydrogen is dependent on the source of production and how it is used, with “grey hydrogen” produced from fossil fuel sources being less environmentally friendly than “blue hydrogen” produced with carbon capture and “green hydrogen” produced from renewable electricity for electrolysis. There are concerns about the cost and efficiency of producing low-emissions hydrogen, as well as a lack of infrastructure, making expectations for the resource somewhat tempered.
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