Region/Countries: Canada, North America Industry: Energy, Power and Control Date: April 2021

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Globally, hydrogen is becoming a key source of clean energy.

According to the Canadian Association for Petroleum Producers (CAPP), Alberta’s oil sands are the largest deposit of crude oil on the planet. However, this oil-rich region in Canada’s west has historically been deemed a huge contributor to the carbon emissions footprint, as reported in many global publications, including National Geographic.

According to a recent Bloomberg report in the Financial Post, Alberta is looking to use hydrogen to fuel expansion of its oil sands without increasing emissions. In fact, the region is attracting a growing group of researchers and entrepreneurs that believe the region’s vast resources can turn it into one of the world’s largest hydrogen suppliers.

The Canadian government released its Hydrogen Strategy for Canada in December 2020 with the intention of stimulating Canadian production, use and export of clean hydrogen to help in reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. The announced strategy is in line with other provincial and regional plans for hydrogen, including the Alberta government’s Natural Gas Vision and Strategy and Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force plan. The strategy has a goal to develop “blue hydrogen” as a cleaner alternative to using natural gas to extract crude at the oil sands sites.

Canadian-based publication Corporate Knights reported that hydrogen can make Canada an energy superpower again. Globally, hydrogen is becoming a key source of clean energy, replacing natural gas to power trains, heavy transport trucks, buses and fleets, and to decarbonize industrial processes. Western Canada is positioned well to help meet the demand for hydrogen due to its rich hydrocarbon reserves; unique geology; expertise in carbon capture, usage and storage; and existing natural gas transportation and infrastructure, according to an article on the Norton Rose Fulbright website. However, as the upstream oil and gas industry develops new production methods to reduce the carbon intensity of hydrogen production, the midstream oil and gas industry needs to consider how it will address the challenges inherent in hydrogen transportation, including capacity demands—and of course, challenges create opportunities for innovation and for companies to rise above the competition.