Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association

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Benefits of the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Sector

Benefits of the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Sector

A strong heritage in hydrogen and fuel cell innovation, R&D excellence, government partnerships and early commercial success have culminated into an industry poised to establish a long-term, permanent base of strong economic activity and environmental leadership in Canada.

A strong Canadian hydrogen and fuel cell sector provides benefits to Canada in several ways.

Fostering Clean Energy Use

The deployment of hydrogen and fuel cells in Canada’s energy system will help foster clean energy and provide:

Cleaner and More Efficient Use of Fossil Fuels: Fuel cells can operate directly on natural gas, biofuels, methane, gasified coal or gasified biomass. They convert the energy in these fuels directly in electricity without burning or combusion which greatly improves the efficiency of these fuels and reduces their carbon impact. When the production of hydrogen is required, there is still a lifecycle greenhouse gas reduction when the hydrogen is used in a fuel cell.  Furthermore, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are very complimentary to existing power sources, in many cases representing an incremental improvement of energy use vs. a drastic paradigm shift. Fuel cells provide power without combustion, so as a result enjoy higher efficiencies than traditional power generation that relies on combustion. Adoption of hydrogen and fuel cell technology provides immediate energy efficiency gains in various applications including stationary power generation and transportation.

Providing Clean Transportation Options - In Canada, transportation amounts to 20% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrogen and fuel cell cars and buses provide zero-emissions at the tailpipe, and significant "well to wheels" CO2 reductions even when hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels.  The introduction of hydrogen and fuel cell technology into Canada's automotive and public transportation use will immediately provide greenhouse gas savings and air quality improvements.

Clean Power Generation in Canada - Canada's hydrogen and fuel cell sector presents a diverse portfolio of clean power generation technologies and systems that are available now. They offer unique services to emerging and traditional energy sources that ultimately improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and run-of-river hydro may produce electricity when it is not needed. That electricity can be stored in the form of hydrogen, and using fuel cells can be turned back into usable electricity at the time it is needed. Hydrogen and fuel cells help utilities  improve the reliability and quality of grid power by providing frequency regulation and demand response services. Canada also has unique technologies and engineering expertise that allow for the use of waste hydrogen sources in clean power generation applications.

Growing a Knowledge Based Economy

Canada's hydrogen and fuel cell sector contributes 2,000 knowledge-based, high-tech jobs to Canada's economy. It employs leading edge scientists, engineers and businesspeople across the country. With a projected global market for hydrogen and fuel cell products of $8.5 billion by 2016, Canada can reap the significant economic benefits that this global sunrise industry can provide.

Canada has the opportunity to establish a permanent, high-value employment base that is a significant contributor to GDP, tax revenues and national pride. Spin-off benefits will include a strong hydrogen and fuel cell manufacturing and supply chain base.  An economic impact study completed in March 2010 conservatively estaimtes that by 2020, the Canadian hydrogen and fuel cell sector will create 14,500 new jobs, achieve revenues of $1.2 billion, generate $650 million wages and pay $122 million in corporate and personal income tax.

Continuing Our Science and Innovation Excellence

Built on the long-standing heritage in the development of hydrogen and fuel cells, Canada’s hydrogen and fuel cell sector continues to set a high benchmark in private sector research and development. Private industry continues to account for 80% of total hydrogen and fuel cell research and development expenditures in Canada. The sector intends to continue investing heavily in hydrogen and fuel cell research and development – more than $100 million annually over the next 5 years. The industry intends to continue its deep partnership with Canadian academic institutions and research organizations. In addition, Canada is among the top three publishers of fuel cell research papers (on a per capita basis). These achievements will continue to place Canada at the top of hydrogen and fuel cell science and innovation capacity.

Building on Commercialization Successes

Canadian hydrogen and fuel cell technology has moved firmly from the lab to the marketplace.  Over the past three years, Canadian companies have started selling in countries such as the US, Japan, Germany, Korea and India. We are achieving sales in hydrogen production and fueling systems, fuel cell electric forklift trucks, back-up power systems for telecommunications providers, stationary fuel cell power systems, and hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric buses. The sector has gained credibility by supplying products and systems to recognizable end-users and customers, including Walmart, Whole Foods, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Wind Mobile and BC Transit.