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FortisBC to study incorporating hydrogen into its network


December 1, 2020
By Greenhouse Canada

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FortisBC is investing $500,000 to study how the utility can further reduce emissions from its natural gas supply by delivering hydrogen through its distribution network.

“Hydrogen is an abundant element and a clean energy carrier, and will be step change for our efforts on climate action,” explained Doug Slater, vice-president of external and Indigenous relations with FortisBC. “And in order to leverage the potential of hydrogen we need to partner with leading experts in the field. We’re thrilled to have the minds at UBCO on board, helping us unlock this opportunity for what will be a giant step forward in advancing a lower carbon future.”

The School of Engineering with the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus (UBCO) will use these funds to study how to blend hydrogen, safely and reliably, with natural gas within FortisBC’s existing system.

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Hydrogen does not create any carbon dioxide emissions when burned. There are many methods to produce hydrogen, including from methane (blue hydrogen) and from water using electricity (green hydrogen), resulting in greater opportunity to create carbon free energy that can be integrated into British Columbia’s natural gas system. Blending hydrogen, and other Renewable Gas, into the natural gas system will reduce emissions from homes and business that use natural gas without expensive retrofits.

The challenge is to understand potential effects hydrogen may have on the existing natural gas system. The School of Engineering team at UBCO will extensively study and test hydrogen to determine what blend and concentration levels of hydrogen are safe to deliver in FortisBC’s system.

“Over the past several years, the School of Engineering and FortisBC have forged a strong research partnership to uncover smart energy and clean technology solutions for British Columbia,” said Rehan Sadiq, executive associate Dean at UBCO’s School of Engineering. “We have the unique position of fostering leadership in sustainability through our actions as a university and of enabling technological innovation through research collaborations like this one.”

This funding is part of the first portfolio approved within FortisBC’s $25 million Clean Growth Innovation Fund, an initiative dedicated to lowering customer costs and supporting the transformation to a lower carbon economy. FortisBC recently completed its first call for project funding within the Fund, which focused primarily on Renewable Gases.

The fund is among the many initiatives that will help FortisBC reduce emissions to achieve its 30BY30 target, a goal to reduce its customers’ greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. As a key element of its 30BY30 target, FortisBC has an aim to have at least 15 per cent of its natural gas supply be carbon neutral within the same timeframe.

Source: FortisBC