VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada, June 1, 2019 (ENS) – Hydrogen is on the move. At the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting Friday in Vancouver, governments announced a new international hydrogen partnership under the leadership of Canada, the European Commission, Japan, the Netherlands and the United States, with participation from several other CEM member countries.

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Prototype River Simple hydrogen fuel cell car now being tested on UK roads. Made in Wales, this car won’t be sold, it will be leased, fuel included. London, England, May 22, 2019 (Photo by mangopulp2008)

“Hydrogen has potential roles both as a fuel source and as an energy storage application,” said Christian Zinglersen, who heads the Clean Energy Ministerial Secretariat. “There are tremendous opportunities for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies as part of the global clean-energy shift.”

Canada welcomed more than 25 countries to the 10th Clean Energy Ministerial and 4th Mission Innovation Ministerial May 27-29. Delegates discussed progress toward advancing the development of global clean energy policy, technology and innovation.

Canada outlined principles to achieve a cleaner energy future while promoting sustainability, resilience and energy security. These aims include the need to be inclusive and encourage the leadership of women, Indigenous peoples and youth in developing the most innovative solutions.

The new hydrogen initiative will bring together industry and governments from around the world to foster full-scale commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies across all sectors of the economy, as part of the global energy transition.

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Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi welcomes delegates to the Clean Energy Ministerial, May 27, 2019 (Photo courtesy Ministry of Natural Resources)

As host of the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting and co-leading member of the new hydrogen initiative, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi said, “Canada is proud to be a founding member of this initiative which demonstrates our commitment to growing economies and workforces. Hydrogen is playing an important role in building the clean energy future.”

The initiative is expected to drive international collaboration on policies, programs and projects to accelerate the commercial deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies across all sectors of the economy.

The science for the production of hydrogen is simple. Using renewable energy such as solar, wind or hydropower, the oxygen and hydrogen molecules in water are separated out. The hydrogen can then be directly used in fuel cells to generate electricity, drive vehicles or power an electrical grid.

But there are safety challenges to the use of hydrogen. As a gas, hydrogen is very flammable and yields explosive mixtures with air and oxygen. Hydrogen is odorless, colorless and tasteless, so human senses cannot detect a leak. The gas must be transported and stored at high pressures, so there needs to be an odorant that works with hydrogen so that people can detect leaks.

Industry often uses hydrogen sensors to help detect hydrogen leaks and has maintained a high safety record using them for decades. Researchers are now investigating other methods that might be used for hydrogen detection: tracers, new odorant technology and advanced sensors.

Liquid hydrogen poses additional challenges due to its increased density and the extremely low temperatures needed to keep it in liquid form.

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U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy)

Major urban areas are already taking action to utilize hydrogen. Canada’s largest city, Toronto, announced a hydrogen feasibility study to explore a hydrogen-powered rail system, while Germany is onboard already with the commercial launch in 2018 of Alstom’s Coradia iLint, the world’s first passenger train based on hydrogen technology.

“I’d like to thank Canada for hosting this year’s Clean Energy Ministerial and for proposing the new CEM initiative on hydrogen. The United States is proud to join Canada and other CEM countries on this new initiative to advance work on hydrogen together,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes.

“Hydrogen will continue to be an important part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy,” Menezes said, “and will contribute to creating a promising energy future that is bountiful, clean, secure, and free.”

Drawing on the recommendations from the Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meeting in 2018 in Japan, multi-country collaboration will build on the successes of other global collaboration on hydrogen such as the Hydrogen Challenge under Mission Innovation, the ongoing work through the International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy and global analysis carried out through the International Energy Agency.

The partner countries will address barriers and identify opportunities for hydrogen in the global transformation to a clean, affordable and reliable energy sector, including global supply chains for hydrogen.

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Hydrogen fuel cell stacks being manufactured by Ballard Power Systems at their factory in Burnaby, British Columbia (Photo courtesy Ballard Power Systems)

The new Hydrogen Initiative will focus on how hydrogen can contribute to cleaner energy systems, while promoting sustainability, resiliency and energy security. Initial work will focus on three areas:

* – Helping to ensure successful deployment of hydrogen within current industrial applications
* – Enabling deployment of hydrogen technologies in transport: freight, mass transit, light-rail, marine
* – Exploring the role of hydrogen in meeting the energy needs of communities

The hydrogen initiative will leverage and benefit from the knowledge, expertise and early investments made by both the private and public sectors.

Contributing to the initiative’s work will be industry stakeholders and collaborative forums such as the Hydrogen Council, a group of multinational companies with a “with a united vision and ambition for hydrogen to foster the energy transition,” announced at the 2017 World Economic Council meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

During the conference, Canada also announced:

* – Efforts to double public investments in clean energy innovation are on track. Mission Innovation, MI, members have collectively invested a total of $4.6 billion since 2015, $1.3 billion of which relates directly to new, collaborative projects. As a founding member of MI, Canada is well on its way to reaching $775 million per year by 2020.

* – The launch of Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada, a first-of-its-kind program jointly designed and developed with Breakthrough Energy to provide up to $30 million to Canadian clean energy entrepreneurs. This initiative will demonstrate the impact that can come from the public and private sectors working together to deliver on the promise made when MI and Breakthrough Energy were formed in 2015.

* – A new CEM campaign was launched to promote flexible next-generational nuclear technologies, such as small modular nuclear reactors.

* – Canada will join the CEM Investment and Finance Initiative to address the investment risks and opportunities related to clean growth, putting Canada at the forefront of global work on sustainable financing.

* – A clean energy memorandum of understanding with Chile, demonstrating alignment between the country’s energy and climate change interests. This energy partnership will provide both countries with an opportunity to drive investment and innovation within the clean energy sector and advance collaborative efforts, including regulatory development in the electricity market.

The MOU will focus on investment and innovation in six areas: Energy trade and investment; Renewable energy integration, including opportunities for remote communities; Energy efficiency including transportation; Opportunities for women in clean energy; Accelerating clean-energy innovation and technology deployment; and Engaging Indigenous peoples, workers and communities in energy resource development.

As host of this year’s CEM/MI, the Government of Canada underscored its work to strengthen environmental protections, build Indigenous partnerships and ensure that women and youth are full participants and equal partners in the clean technology sector.

To these ends, Canada announced the 100th signatory to the Equal by 30 initiative, a commitment by public and private sector organizations to work toward equal pay, equal leadership and equal opportunities for women in the clean energy sector by 2030.

This year’s conference was inclusive by design in order to demonstrate the Government of Canada’s core commitment to advance gender equality. Gender principles tabled at the conference will be carried forward, and Canada will continue to work in close collaboration with next year’s host, Chile, on its gender component within the ministerial.

This year’s CEM conference also featured the first parallel youth program, bringing together over 60 youth delegates from CEM and MI countries and every province and territory in Canada.

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