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Hydrogen technology reduces carbon emissions

Written by Jordan MacNeil, Business Development Manager at Eastward Energy for incorporation in Business Voice Magazine, a Halifax Chamber Of Commerce publication.

What is Nova Scotia’s energy challenge?

Nova Scotia’s key energy challenge will be to reduce GHG emissions to support our climate change goals while still meeting our future energy needs. This challenge is more urgent now, as many governments – including the municipality of Halifax, the province of Nova Scotia, and the Canadian government – have set targets to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

To achieve this target, we must fundamentally transform how energy is produced, stored, distributed and consumed. Energy efficiency and conservation have important roles to play to reduce our total energy demand and lower energy costs.

Renewable electricity and batteries will also help to achieve the target; however, energy sectors such as high temperature industrial processes and heavy transportation are difficult to electrify.

The challenge will not be as simple as “greening” the electricity grid and electrifying everything. Nova Scotia will need another type of renewable energy that can be produced at large scale, stored and transported to meet our clean energy needs. Hydrogen can be that type of energy.

What is Hydrogen?

Hydrogen gas, like electricity is a flexible energy carrier that can be made from a variety of sources including renewable electricity such as wind generation or solar power. It can be distributed through a gas grid and used for transportation, home heating, industrial processes or electricity generation.

How can hydrogen help address our energy challenge?

Green hydrogen, produced via electrolysis from renewable electricity, can be produced at large scale. It can also be stored for short or long periods of time, readily transported and consumed in multiple end use applications.

Hydrogen can help Nova Scotia achieve its decarbonization goals in several ways:

• as a fuel for electricity generation to decarbonize the electric grid;

• by providing heat for buildings and for industry as a replacement for natural gas; and

• as a fuel for transportation in zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

Hydrogen storage can address the significant intermittency problem with renewables, by producing it from renewable energy during off-peak times and storing it to help meet winter peak demand.

This longer term storage can be a great complement to lithium ion batteries that balance short-term energy supply with demand.

Why is Nova Scotia well positioned to develop a hydrogen economy?

1) Nova Scotia’s natural gas infrastructure is relatively new and uses mostly polyethylene pipes that are compatible with hydrogen, so implementation will be easier.

2) Nova Scotia has excellent onshore wind resources, with the potential to build offshore wind projects.

3) Hydrogen can help Nova Scotia achieve energy independence and the associated economic benefits, as Nova Scotia currently relies on 1.2 billion dollars of energy imports to meet our energy needs.

4) Nova Scotia is big enough to attract the resources needed to develop, test and commercialize new hydrogen technologies, yet small enough that the size of hydrogen projects needed to make a significant impact are manageable.

Green hydrogen production can enable adding more renewable electricity to the electric grid and we can use hydrogen to link a cleaner electric grid with a cleaner gas grid.

This more integrated energy system is a better way to achieve net-zero emissions. It offers benefits that will make achieving this goal more feasible and at a lower total cost.

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