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Energy minister calls B.C. ‘clean energy super power’ at Surrey hydrogen forum

Surrey Board of Trade hosted city’s first-ever hydrogen forum on Sept. 29
Josie Osborne, minister of energy, mines and low-carbon innovation, discusses Surrey’s hydrogen industry at a Surrey Board of Trade event on Sept. 29, 2023. (Screen shot)

Josie Osborne, provincial minister of energy, mines and low-carbon innovation, says hydrogen will play a “crucial” role in de-carbonizing sectors that are “harder to abate,” such as medium and heavy duty transportation, pulp and paper processing and petroleum refining.

She was the feature speaker at Surrey’s first-ever hydrogen forum on Sept. 29. The event was hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade, in tandem with the Surrey Environment & Business Awards at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.

Osborne described B.C. as a “clean energy super power,” with about 98 per cent of BC Hydro’s power being “clean or renewable,” though roughly 70 per cent overall energy used in B.C. is still provided by fossil fuels.

“B.C.’s got everything it takes to be a leading hydrogen economy,” she said. “Our government is committed to hydrogen. We launched the B.C. hydrogen strategy in 2021 to accelerate the production and use of low-carbon hydrogen and to establish B.C. as a world leader in a global hydrogen economy.”

READ ALSO: Surrey should take ‘good hard look’ at running hydrogen passenger trains to Chilliwack

She identified Cimtech, PowertechLabs Inc., the Surrey campus of SFU’s school of sustainable energy engineering among important players in Surrey’s emerging industry and being “truly on the leading edge of their field.”

“Our proximity to export markets in Asia, diverse natural resources, the potential to produce low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia are the winning combination as we work to grow this sector,” Osborne said. “And when it comes to export markets of course China, Japan, South Korea and California, they’re predicted to account for almost 50 per cent of total global hydrogen demand by 2050.

“These markets are our primary export opportunities and we have a significant competitive advantage over other jurisdictions not just because of our ability to make clean hydrogen,” Osborne said, “but also thanks to our high environmental, social and governance standards and the robust trading relationships that we already have.”

A panel discussion featured Jacquie Griffiths, president of Invest Vancouver; Matthew Klippenstein, executive director of Hydrogen BC and regional director, Western Canada, Canadian Hydrogen and the Fuel Cell Association; and Joe Mazza, vice-president of energy supply & resource development for FortisBC.

Klippenstein said hydrogen can be used in manufacturing fertilizer, can replace coal in turning iron ore into iron for making steel, for heat and power, and for transport.

“We do have a very strong cluster of hydrogen fuel cell companies here, hydrogen companies in general,” he said. “One way of generating hydrogen is with machines called electrolyzers, they split water using electricity, those are scaling up even faster than wind, solar, or hydrogen fuel cells did before.”

Klippenstein likened the hydrogen industry right now to “a little bit like cellphones 40 years ago. There were only the very beginning hints of cellphone networks.

“We will see tremendous uptake, tremendous new business models and business opportunities arising,” he predicted.

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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