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Terrace eyes hydrogen fuel potential

Terrace officials believe industrial park south of Northwest Regional Airport would make a great location for a hydrogen fuel plant
HTEC currently operates a hydrogen fuel station on South Granville Street in Vancouver. It has plans to expand within B.C.

Terrace city officials believe the Skeena Industrial Development Park just south of the Northwest Regional Airport would make a great location to split hydrogen from water and turn it into a low emission fuel.

Four companies with the money to build a hydrogen plant have already visited the location and city officials continue to tap into a provincial grant to attract interest, city lands and economic development manager Michael Pucci has reported to council.

The $150,000 grant comes from the province to the Northern B.C. Hydrogen Hub, a collection of local governments from Prince George to Prince Rupert.

Pucci described Terrace as the hub of northwestern B.C. for its hydrogen-producing potential.

"With access to water, industrial acreages and a container terminal at the port in Prince Rupert that is serviced by rail and transport trucks, it is ideal for distribution to industrial users of hydrogen," he wrote.

The prospect of using hydrogen as a fuel is necessary if BC is to achieve net-zero status by the provincial government's target date of 2050, he added.

By definition, net-zero means a complete end to using any fossil fuel.

What makes B.C. attractive is that the vast majority of its power comes from hydroelectricity which is regarded as a clean power source and it is electricity that is used in the electrolysis method to split oxygen and hydrogen, the atoms that make up water.

As a gas, hydrogen can run an internal combustion engine directly or be used in a fuel cell.

Pucci said the gas can be used for transportation, including industrial transportation, for industrial purposes and to replace natural gas and diesel fuel.

Potential hydrogen producers face one barrier, the ability of B.C. Hydro to supply the power needed to produce the fuel.

One way of dealing with that is to encourage independent power producers using wind or renewable methane and to work with First Nations, Pucci said.

"Staff are in the process of building an environment where independent power can occur in the Terrace area in order to overcome BC Hydro's capacity issues," Pucci said.

The planning includes a close relationship with the Kitselas First Nation, a partner with the city in the ongoing development of the Skeena Industrial Development Park.

The development park is approximately 2,000 acres, 1,200 of which were sold to a Canadian company financed by Chinese business interests in 2014.

The sales agreement hinged upon the new owners completing certain civic works milestones. When that did not happen, a buyback agreement was triggered so the property, along with whatever civic works were completed, are back in the hands of the city and the Kitselas.

The return of the property became official last fall, spurring a renewed effort to find companies to use the park.

To date, city officials have spent approximately $25,000 of the $150,000 sent by the province to the Northern B.C. Hydrogen Hub.

That's been spent on attending conferences, paying for booths at those conferences, memberships in associations promoting hydrogen, buying logo materials and logo development, Pucci said.

"Staff continue to attend strategic hydrogen-focused conferences in 2024," he added.

The Northern B.C. Hydrogen Hub had a booth at a major hydrogen conference at the end of May in Houston, Texas and is slated to be at a Seattle conference in February 2025.

Although the hub is made up of northwestern B.C. local governments, Pucci said it is making an effort not to undermine individual municipalities' activities.


About the Author: Rod Link

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