Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association

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Sector Milestones

Sector Milestones

The following are examples of significant accomplishments that have helped to build Canada’s hydrogen and fuel cell industry.

Canada Initiates Development of PEM Fuel Cell Technology

In 1983, Canada’s Department of National Defense awarded Ballard Power Systems a contract to produce a low-cost PEM fuel cell. The integration of new flow-field designs and membranes enabled world-leading performance to a single PEM fuel cell, leading developers to believe that PEM fuel cells could one day power a car.

First Fuel Cell Bus Debuted

In 1993, the world’s first fuel cell bus was unveiled. The 32 foot shuttle bus, which could carry up to 20 people, demonstrated the critical role fuel cells would play in the future of public transit. Between 1999 and 2001, six full-size transit buses operated in revenue service with the Chicago Transit Authority and BC Transit in British Columbia. The six buses travelled more than 73,000 miles and carried in excess of 200,000 passengers.

First Fuel Cell Car Utilizing Canadian Technology

In 1994, Daimler-Benz introduced the NECar I, the world’s first car utilizing Canadian-developed fuel cell technology. This vehicle needed 12 fuel cell stacks to generate 50 kW of power. Since this time, over 150 cars have been demonstrated incorporating Canada-made fuel cell technologies.

First Fuel Cell Forklift

In 1996, the first fuel cell forklift was demonstrated tripling the runtime of a comparable battery-electric forklift (to 18 hours) with constant voltage output and the ability to refuel in less than three minutes.

Canadian Fuel Cell Commercialization Roadmap

In 2003, Canada released its first commercialization roadmap aimed at accelerating full-scale commercialization of Canadian hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The Roadmap was updated In 2008, further outlining why hydrogen and fuel cells are considered an essential part of Canada’s future low carbon energy future for transportation and stationary power.

Hydrogen Village

In 2004, the Hydrogen Village public/private partnership was formed in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to demonstrate various hydrogen production and delivery platforms as well as fuel cells for stationary and transportation applications. This program was funded by Hydrogen Village Members, Natural Resources Canada and the Government of Ontario.

Vancouver Fuel Cell Vehicle Program

The Vancouver Fuel Cell Vehicle Program is a collaborative multi- year vehicle deployment and evaluation activity involving the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, Ford Motor Company, the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada. This unique program, for the first time, put fuel-cell-powered cars into the hands of select Canadian users for independent operation and evaluation under real-world conditions. Vehicle users include AFCC, BC Hydro, BC Transit, Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, City of Vancouver and Powertech Labs.

Hydrogen Highway

The British Columbia Hydrogen Highway was launched in 2004 as a large-scale demonstration and deployment program for mobile, stationary, and portable hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Projects under the Hydrogen Highway umbrella include the Integrated Waste Hydrogen Utilization Project located in North Vancouver, and seven hydrogen fueling stations operating in Victoria, Surrey, Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, and Whistler. The Hydrogen HIghway received one of the first "Sustainability Stars" from the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Games recognizing its Games-time sustainability initiatives which included the operation of fuel cell buses in Whistler and fuel cell cars in the Lower Mainland area of Vancouver.

2010 Olympics – World’s Largest Fleet of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Buses

In advance of the 2010 Olympics in Whistler, 20 fuel cell powered buses were delivered and continue to operate as part of BC Transit’s fleet. The low-floor buses have a range of 500 km, a top speed of 90 km/h and a life expectancy of 20 years. They are the sixth generation fuel cell bus developed in Canada.

First Automated Fuel Cell Plant Opens

In June 2012, Mercedes-Benz opened the world's first automated fuel cell manufacturing plant in Burnaby, British Columbia.  The 3,300 square metre plant is  the very first facility in the world that is dedicated to the production of automotive fuel cell stacks.  The plant represents a major step forward towards the commercialization of fuel cell technology for automobiles.

First Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) Delivered

Hyundai became the first automotive brand in Canada to deliver zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered Tucson Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) to Canadians in February 2015 in British Columbia followed by Ontario and Quebec in early 2016.  The Tucson Fuel Cell's electric motor produces 134 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, with a range of more than 400 kilometres.

Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Program

The Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Program is building on existing hydrogen stations to expand the hydrogen fueling network in British Columbia, further reducing one of the key barriers to market adoption of hydrogen vehicles: fueling infrastructure.  By leveraging industry, including automaker investment in fueling infrastructure, funding is being provided towards the construction or upgrade of hydrogen fueling stations. This aims to expand the network of publicly accessible hydrogen fueling stations to serve the current population of fuel cell electric vehicles, as well as accommodate possible additional hydrogen fueling station locations in the Lower Mainland.  The Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Program is managed by the Canadian Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association. A call for projects was initiated in 2015 and a second public hydrogen fueling station is expected to be completed by 2018.

Clean Energy Vehicle Program

The Clean Energy Vehicle (CEV) Program is intended to encourage and accelerate the adoption of CEVs in British Columbia for their environmental and economic benefits. The program does this by:

  • Helping make clean transportation solutions more affordable
  • Increasing awareness of CEVs
  • Investing in infrastructure
  • Supporting research, jobs training & economic development in the CEV sector

In the September 2017 Budget Update, the government committed to expand the CEV Program. As such, the Province is injecting an additional $40 million into the CEV Program to ensure purchase incentives continue to be available for British Columbians who choose a qualifying electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, and to make further investments in charging infrastructure and hydrogen fueling infrastructure.  The new CEV Program funding will also support public outreach, job training and economic development to help grow the CEV sector in B.C.  As of September 2017, the CEV Program has delivered over 4,700 new CEVs on the road, one new hydrogen fueling station, 10 research & academic curriculum projects, and more.