What we talk about when we talk about nothing
When it comes to energy, everything depends on us emitting nothing–the energy we need with absolutely none of the emissions we don’t.
With its ability to provide energy without carbon and seamlessly work within our existing infrastructure, hydrogen presents an exciting opportunity for ATCO, Alberta and the world.
Hydrogen Fast Facts
Colourless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic and non-poisonous.
When burned, H2 produces water vapour and no carbon emissions.
When produced with renewable electricity, the process is carbon neutral.
An efficient way to store and transport energy.
In a first-of-its-kind project for Alberta, ATCO is preparing to deliver a blend of natural gas containing five per cent hydrogen by volume into a subsection of the Fort Saskatchewan natural gas distribution system. In fall 2022, about 2,000 customers will be the first in the province to use hydrogen-blended natural gas that will safely, and reliably fuel their homes and businesses. Importantly, because the combustion of hydrogen emits only water, this project will reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of the associated natural gas stream.
Hydrogen blending is already taking place in other countries, including Australia, where ATCO’s Clean Energy Innovation Hub is generating hydrogen energy using solar power and delivering it through the existing gas network.
The hydrogen needed for the Fort Saskatchewan project will be produced through electrolysis at our nearby Gate 5 facility. Modifications on previously developed land are currently underway and there will be no impact to the surrounding environment or wildlife. This work is on track for completion in summer 2022. Appliance and gas piping inspections have also begun for all homes and businesses within the project zone to ensure they are in proper working order.
The Fort Saskatchewan Hydrogen Blending project is intended to be used as stepping-stone into the Canadian hydrogen market, allowing ATCO to demonstrate its abilities in the sector while working through regulatory, commercial, technical, and public engagement requirements. Once complete, it will act as a critical building block for our energy future, bringing many benefits to our provincial economy, and above all, our customers.
Clean Energy Innovation Hub
With the support of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency we’re investing $3.3 million in a leading research and development facility at our Jandakot Operations Centre, called the Clean Energy Innovation Hub.
Our industry-leading Clean Energy Innovation Hub is a testing bed for hybrid energy solutions and it integrates natural gas, solar PV, battery storage and hydrogen production.
The Clean Energy Innovation Hub is providing valuable insights into how our extensive existing gas distribution infrastructure can continue to benefit customers as part of the future energy mix.
CLEAN ENERGY INNOVATION PARK
Building on from the CEIH research, ATCO was awarded $375,000 from the Western Australian Renewable Hydrogen Fund to conduct a feasibility study into the development of a commercial scale hydrogen production plant, which we have named the Clean Energy Innovation Park (CEIP).
The feasibility study, to which ATCO will contribute $125,000, is currently taking place, and the information from the study will be used to explore our hydrogen investment options.
Should the feasibility study return positive results, our next steps will be to build and commence operation of the CEIP by March 2022.
Hydrogen has the potential to play an important role in a cleaner energy future.
Hydrogen is already in use all around the world. That means there are lots of resources for you to browse. Over time, we'll collect the best resources here to give you a complete picture on hydrogen and the ways in which ATCO is using it.
Do you have a question not answered here? Email us at H2@atco.com and we'll get back to you!
Why does ATCO want to pursue hydrogen as an energy carrier of the future?
At ATCO, we are committed to being a leader in promoting a more environmentally sustainable future by providing cleaner, reliable and affordable energy to customers in Alberta and across the globe. By leveraging our natural gas resources, existing infrastructure, and energy expertise, Alberta can produce ultra-low emissions hydrogen at a lower cost than almost any other jurisdiction in the world.
Hydrogen can play a powerful role in affordably decarbonizing the production of heat, which is vital to achieve Canada’s long-term emissions and energy goals, particularly in our cold Canadian climate.
Is hydrogen safe?
Yes. As with natural gas, hydrogen can be produced, transported, stored and used safely. Just like natural gas, it must be treated with respect and with the proper care and handling. It is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, non-toxic and non-poisonous gas that when burned, produces only heat and water vapour with no carbon emissions.
At ATCO, safety is always the first and top priority in everything we do. We care deeply about our people and our customers and would never move forward with a project that is not safe. Our experts will conduct numerous inspections and testing of the target network infrastructure and customers’ domestic appliances and piping to ensure safety.
Hydrogen is becoming central to the decarbonization plans in many advanced economies around the globe such as Australia, Germany, Japan, and South Korea. In fact, the Hawaiian gas network currently contains 10 to 15 per cent hydrogen and the Hong Kong gas network contains approximately 50 per cent hydrogen.
Will the Fort Saskatchewan H2 blending project affect my natural gas bill?
No. Customers in the project zone will not be billed any differently than customers outside of the project zone. There will be a minor increase in the volume of gas needed throughout the network to provide the same amount of heat to homes and businesses. But because customers pay for energy consumed, not the volume of gas, there will be no change to the energy costs.
Does ATCO have any previous experience with hydrogen projects?
Yes, we are actively piloting new and innovative applications for hydrogen, including our Clean Energy Innovation Hub, located in Western Australia. The facility is a test bed for hybrid energy solutions and integrates natural gas, solar, battery storage and hydrogen production, as well as the commercial application of clean energy in micro-grid systems.
ATCO has also teamed up with Australia's Fortescue Metals Group to build and operate hydrogen refueling facilities for vehicles in Western Australia.
Why would you want to blend hydrogen into natural gas?
Blending hydrogen into natural gas is not a new technology, as there are several systems already in operation in Canada, Europe and Hawaii, as well as at our own Clean Energy Innovation Hub in Australia. Doing so reduces the GHG intensity of the natural gas stream, thus creating a lower carbon energy for our customers. With a focus on safety and affordability, ATCO has a long-term approach to managing and minimizing our environmental impacts and we continue to grow this and many other GHG reduction initiatives, contributing to Alberta’s and Canada’s greater climate goals.
Will this impact my appliances?
No. Extensive research has found that hydrogen blended into natural gas systems at ratios up to 20 per cent does not impact appliances. Be sure to check out our applicance testing video that shows how the different blends of hydrogen affect the look of the flame in a stovetop, furnace, and fireplace. Additionally, there will not be any noticeable change in your gas supply at five per cent blended gas - the look, sound, and smell will remain consistent.
Has this blending technology been used before, or are we the first?
Several hydrogen blending projects are currently operating in Canada, Europe and Hawaii. This is the first project of its kind here in Alberta that uses existing local resources and infrastructure to blend hydrogen into a subsection of Fort Saskatchewan’s residential natural gas distribution system.
In the News
- Building a Bold and Diverse Natural Gas Industry (Gov't of Alberta, Oct)
- Alberta's NG strategy sets sights on hydrogen (Edmonton Journal, Oct)
- Alberta banks on hydrogen exports (CBC, Oct)
- Alberta announces plans to export hydrogen by 2040 (Reuters, Oct)
- Alberta hoping to tap into hydrogen energy (CTV, Oct)
- ATCO Head Cites Importance Of Hydrogen In Global Future (DOB, Oct)
- Natural gas fuels AB plans for energy future (Calgary Herald, Oct)
- First-of-its-kind AB H2 plant gets $2.8M in funding (Bloomberg, July)
- AB distributes $11-million to H2 energy projects (Globe and Mail, July)
- Alberta powers H2 sector with small-scale projects (Financial Post, July)
- Hydrogen-injected natural gas to heat homes in Alberta city (CBC, July)
- ERA Hydrogen Blending Announcement (ATCO, July)