Ontario is putting nearly $6 million toward nine projects aimed at making use of hydrogen to power the province’s electricity grid.
The bulk of the funding is going to Atura Power to blend hydrogen with natural gas – up to 15 per cent by volume – to produce electricity at its Halton Hills Generating Station.
The government says it will be the largest electricity-based, grid-connected, low-carbon hydrogen blending project in Canada’s history. Excess water that would otherwise have been spilled over Niagara Falls will be used to produce clean hydrogen for the project, the government said.
Energy Minister Todd Smith said it will help produce an even more sustainable energy system.
“That means lower emissions when this facility turns on to meet peak demands,” he said.
“While natural gas helped power our province transition off coal generation, today, natural gas generation makes up only about 10 per cent of our electricity supply. But let me be clear – that 10 per cent is absolutely critical to keeping the lights on.”
Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator has said that while the province works toward an emissions-free electricity gird, natural gas generation is still required in the short to medium term to ensure stability, but it will also increase greenhouse gas emissions from the sector.
The IESO is procuring new battery storage resources, which can charge during off-peak hours then inject electricity back into the system at times of peak demand, but also new natural gas generation in order to meet rising electricity demand.
Advocacy group Environmental Defence called the government’s announcement Thursday “truly ridiculous.”
“It’s nothing but an elaborate scheme to greenwash its efforts to ramp up polluting gas generation across the province,” the group’s programs director wrote in a statement.
“Their plan is to turn clean, hydro power from Niagara Falls into hydrogen, transport it by truck over 100 kilometres to Halton Hills, only to blend it with gas to generate electricity. It’s hard to imagine a better way to make clean electricity dirty.”
The project, and others announced Thursday, are being funded as part of the province’s three-year, $15-million Low-Carbon Hydrogen Strategy.
Environment Minister Andrea Khanjin said there is “tremendous potential in low carbon hydrogen as a clean fuel.”
“By 2050, the hydrogen economy could create over 100,000 jobs across the province, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 megatonnes per year,” she said.
“That is incredible and that shows you that incredible balance that this government is keen on working with our partners to say the environment and the economy, they’re not mutually exclusive, but rather, we can work together.”