Ottawa— Canada is in need of a National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Strategy to continue to compete with increasing international clean tech competition and to rapidly reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) in order to meet its commitments to the Paris Climate Change Accord, the Canadian organization advocating for zero emission clean technologies told Canada’s Senate today.
Canada is a world leader in fuel cell technologies, and exports the vast majority of the $200 million a year in Canadian fuel cell production overseas, but lacks a cohesive policy, regulatory and tax framework to encourage domestic deployment of zero emission fuel cell technology and hydrogen technology, Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association President Eric Denhoff told the Senate.
Fuel cell technology has given rise to zero emission fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and buses, which produce only air and water and no GHGs, and are powered by hydrogen made from renewables like wind, solar and biomass. These vehicles and buses which will play a vital role in reducing GHG’s and improving air quality for Canadians.
Canadian fuel cells power buses in North America, Europe and Asia, with demand in European and Asian markets growing at an accelerated pace, he said, noting that Canadian fuel cell companies such as Hydrogenics and Ballard Power Systems have recently signed orders for the sale of thousands of bus and train fuel cell sets to China and Europe, continuing Canada’s leadership in the production of hydrogen fuel cell technologies.
However, Denhoff noted that Japan, Korea, China, the United States and Europe have all implemented national hydrogen and fuel cell strategies which encourage the rapid development of the industry in their countries. Meanwhile, Canada still lacks such a strategy and this “threatens our continued growth”.
Canada’s hydrogen and fuel cell sector currently provides high-income employment for approximately 2,000 engineers, manufacturing specialists, researchers and business development executives, and the sector continues to expand as the world turns to fuel cells as a viable solution for greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to transportation solutions, fuel cells and hydrogen are highly valued for providing storage for excess wind and solar power—where off peak power is wasted—by taking the off peak wind or solar energy, and storing it as hydrogen in order to return it to the power grid through fuel cells at peak power need times. Furthermore, fuel cells are employed commercially in material handling solutions for large distribution centres, for backup power for telecom systems, for stationary power and increasingly for defence and aerospace solutions.
Hyundai launched commercial availability of Hyundai’s Tucson fuel cell SUV in Vancouver this year, and Honda and Toyota have also launched fuel cell vehicles. German automaker Mercedes-Benz also plans to launch their own fuel cell vehicle in 2017.
“Mercedes invested $70 million in Vancouver to create the world’s first automated fuel cell manufacturing plant, and Mercedes and Ford operate the 325 employee Automotive Fuel Cell Centre in Vancouver, Canada’s largest automotive research centre.” Denhoff noted, adding that in order for automakers and other investors to make further investments in Canada, the country requires National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Strategy to demonstrate Canada’s commitment to the sector, and the framework under which future investments can be made.
In California, for example, automakers are rapidly deploying FCEVs because “there is a plan for funding fuelling stations for FCEVs, a regulatory environment to encourage deployment of FCEVs and incentives,” Denhoff noted following the Senate hearing in Ottawa Thursday.
Now is the time for Canada to structure a national strategy to match concerted, similar efforts of key competitors overseas, and maintain its leadership role in the global hydrogen and fuel cell sector.
For more information, contact:
Eric Denhoff; President & CEO