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Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Sector Status and Vehicle use in Canada

Executive Summary

Since the original report in March 2017, there have been some significant market, policy, and program developments that support greater use of hydrogen and fuel cells across Canada’s economy. Fifteen key initiatives are detailed on the timeline below. While most items are specific to transportation, others represent developments that could help to increase capacity, build awareness, and spur greater interest in broader economy-wide hydrogen use.


Mar 2017
Federal Budget 2017 expands EVAFIDI with additional $80 million including 50% funding for hydrogen stations

Jun 2017
OEM FCEV Coalition
hosts ride and drive event in Ottawa with FCEVs provided by Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota

Jul 2017
launches multi-year project to assess needs and issues related to hydrogen fuel cell transit buses in Canada

Jan 2018
Quebec ZEV standard
comes into force with an initial requirement that OEMs generate credits of 3.5% of sales; both FCEV and hydrogen ICE vehicles generate credits

Jan 2018
Toyota announces they will bring FCEV Mirai to Canada, starting with fleets in Quebec; 50 Mirai vehicles sold to Province of Quebec

Feb 2018
Ontario transit agency, Metrolinx, releases study confirming technical feasibility of using hydrogen fuel cell-powered trains for provincial GO Transit network

Jun 2018
Shell opens Canada’s first retail hydrogen fueling station in Vancouver with two stations to follow

Jul 2018
First utility-scale power-to-gas plant
in North America opens in Markham with 2.5MW power-to-gas facility owned by Hydrogenics-Enbridge joint venture

Oct 2018
Hyundai announces 25 FCEV NEXOs for Canada, following on its earlier lease of 6 Tucson FCEVs

Oct 2018
Raglan Mine adds second wind turbine to at remote hydrogen-based energy storage facility in Quebec

Nov 2018
British Columbia announces plan to adopt a ZEV standard with legislation planned for spring 2019

Feb 2019
Air Liquide to build 20MW PEM electrolyser to produce hydrogen from renewables in Quebec

Feb 2019
NB Power and Joi Scientific to partner on hydrogen production from seawater technology

Mar 2019
Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) to fund 3-year hydrogen heavy truck project in Alberta

Mar 2019
Federal Budget 2019 announces $130 million for ZEV infrastructure plus consumer, fleet purchase incentives

Globally, there are many countries that have identified hydrogen and fuel cell technologies as being relevant to their current and future environmental, climate change, energy security, and economic policy goals. Worldwide demand for fuel cells1 continues to grow. In 2018, unit sales increased by roughly 5% compared to 2017, while total megawatts (MW) sold increased at a much faster pace of 22% compared to 2017.2 Sales are dominated by three regions – Asia consisting of Japan, Korea, and China; Europe with particular emphasis on Germany; and North America with California accounting for the majority of sales and activity to date.

Canada’s hydrogen and fuel cell sector continues to thrive based on export market demand. The sector is recognized for its expertise and leading technologies, with Canadian products and services contributing to “world’s first” initiatives in the global rail, marine, transit, and light duty vehicle (LDV) markets. Both Ballard and Hydrogenics had record sales revenue in 2017. And, while both companies have been negatively affected by deployment delays in China, there are many promising developments with new orders and major investments from strategic partners, with Weichai Power taking an ownership stake in Ballard and Air Liquide taking a stake in Hydrogenics via its Hydrogen Company subsidiary.

Market activity in Canada has significantly increased over the past two years with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) spending to promote and deploy their fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), new public hydrogen stations opening, Toyota’s plan to bring 50 FCEVs to Quebec, Ontario’s transit agency Metrolinx assessing the feasibility of hydrogen-powered trains for regional GO Transit service, Canada’s first power-to-gas project coming online in Ontario, Air Liquide’s announcement of its plans to produce hydrogen from renewable power at its Becancour, Quebec, facility, and Alberta’s heavy Class 8 hydrogen hybrid truck project.

The federal policy environment now centres on greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, technology innovation, and clean growth as the supports for a low carbon future. All three areas are relevant to greater hydrogen and fuel cell use across the economy. Six specific actions identified in the Pan-Canadian Framework can support greater hydrogen use in transportation and stationary applications. Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan’s) Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Deployment Initiative (EVAFIDI) is also helping to remove barriers to the availability of hydrogen fueling stations for public use. In addition, Budget 2019 included $130 million in funding over five years for ZEV-related infrastructure.

The Clean Fuel Standard will provide an important assist once it is implemented in the 2022-2023 timeframe as it will require increasingly lower levels of carbon in liquid, gaseous, and solid fuels for transportation, industry, and buildings.

Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandates, in place in Quebec and announced in British Columbia, could be a driver of change for OEMs with hydrogen FCEVs in their product line up. New investments in publicly-accessible fueling stations are being supported by the federal government as well as British Columbia and Quebec.

Increased international collaboration is seen as being vital for all parties if the hydrogen’s potential is to be realized. Canada and many other countries participate in the International Partnership for Hydrogen in the Economy (IPHE), Mission Innovation (MI), the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), the Hydrogen Ministerial, and hydrogen-focused International Energy Agency (IEA) tasks. A new Hydrogen Initiative is to be launched at the May 2019 CEM meeting. Canada will co-lead this new initiative with a focus on commercialization and policies, programs, and projects to support mass deployment of hydrogen across the economy. All of these activities complement work that is being led by the Hydrogen Council, a global private-sector led collaboration that aims to support greater use of hydrogen for deep decarbonization of transportation, communities, and industry.

Regarding codes, standards, and regulations (CS&R), a significant amount of work has been done to date to establish the appropriate CS&R framework for FCEVs, hydrogen fueling, storage, and related applications. With NRCan funding, Canada-U.S. stakeholder workshops were held in 2017 and in 2018 to assess current activities and identify coordination opportunities including the development of a C&S roadmap framework for North America.

The recently-initiated revision of the Canadian Hydrogen Installation Code (CHIC) provides an opportunity to address industry lessons and knowledge shortcomings, add many new requirements and revised standards, and consider code requirements from other jurisdictions. Active support and participation by the industry and critical stakeholders should lead to a potentially harmonized and well-constructed set of requirements.

The current lack of Measurement Canada-approved devices for hydrogen metering and dispensing poses a barrier to retail sales in Canada. Sustained engagement and effort will be needed to work with Measurement Canada to determine a path forward on this issue.

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