Sustainably reaching climate targets requires meeting the double bottom line—reducing GHGs while boosting commercial viability. Hydrogen experts Marty Reed and Chris Reid say that the road to green energy is blue.
CEOs Marty Reed of Evok Innovations and Chris Reid of Ekona Power capped off Resource Work's first annual Resource Innovation Forum, delivered with the support of Cenovus Energy, with insights into hydrogen energy's potential to drive both economic and environmental progress. Resource Works' Director of Research, Margareta Dovgal, moderated.
Evok Innovations is a Vancouver-based tech incubator that applies Silicon Valley thinking to invest in energy transformation opportunities. One of these is Ekona Power, a company creating new solutions to produce clean, industrial-scale hydrogen at low-cost.
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Hydrogen is commonly sorted by production method—resulting in blue, green, and gray hydrogen. But as the panelists noted, this simplification may not fully convey each type’s affordability and carbon intensity. Green hydrogen has the lowest emissions but has high production costs, being made through electrolysis from renewables. Meanwhile, grey and blue hydrogen are developed from fossil fuels, requiring less energy than the electrolysis process. This allows them to be a more affordable form of hydrogen energy, and blue hydrogen has the added advantage of being used along with carbon capture technologies, which dramatically lowers emissions.
Reed highlighted the potential to use all forms of hydrogen energy to achieve a double bottom line: "there's this naïve view that we can simply electrify everything, and while electrification is an important path…the simple sheer quantum of energy required is beyond our scale to bring on new electrons that fast."
Reid added: "We cannot forget about the customer and the economics in this." Blue hydrogen is a vital part of the road to developing affordable and cleaner energy.
The message is clear: whether blue or green, we need all kinds of hydrogen energy. As Reid said, "we have to be careful that perfect doesn't play the enemy of the good here. We need to throw everything plus the kitchen sink at this problem."
With development on industrial scales, Reid looks forward to a future of hydrogen energy sold for "a buck a kilogram." Reed spoke of commercial opportunities to augment, replace, and bring on more SMRs with scale and low carbon footprints, especially in agriculture. He continued that medium and long-term opportunities exist in long-haul trucking, rail, and marine transportation fuels in addition to Asian export potential.
Both Reed and Reid envisioned a future of government, industry, and unions working together to support the development of a clean and profitable hydrogen economy. This future is on its way. After consultations with stakeholder groups, the federal government announced a strategy on hydrogen energy, which can be found here. As Canada works towards developing its hydrogen energy economy, the panellists highlighted the continued need to educate our political leaders about the potential uses of carbon capture and storage technology.
With the conclusion of this webinar, Resource Works wrapped up its first-ever Resource Innovation Forum after six weeks of insight and information from innovators and thought leaders in Canadian energy.
Resource Works will be back for another series of the Resource Innovation Forum in 2021.
Josiah Haynes is a Writing and Research Coordinator at the Resource Works Society.