Some good trucking news, a great chart about solar power, and a message to Canadian policy makers from Mark Carney


A New Hope

Hydrogen is getting people talking. A Bank of America analyst recently compared the investment opportunity to that of smartphones before 2007. Already, 18 economies comprising more than 75% of global GDP are developing and rolling out hydrogen strategies. 

With a Canadian hydrogen strategy expected this fall, will it be enough to ensure Canada keeps up in this global hydrogen race? A new report by Clean Energy Canada, A New Hope, explores Canada’s hydrogen opportunity and the potential it holds both for our economy and as a climate solution.

Canada has the right ingredients to be a leader in clean hydrogen. According to researchers at Harvard, Canada is among a small group of countries with the highest potential for exporting clean hydrogen, thanks to a clean power system and plenty of access to water (required for electrolysis). It’s an advantage we would be wise to seize.

With a Canadian hydrogen strategy expected this fall, will it be enough to ensure Canada keeps up in this global hydrogen race?

Trucking good news

Hydrogen holds particular hope for sectors that are the most difficult to decarbonize like trucking, shipping and the production of steel and cement. And it’s already more than just a hope. It’s a growing reality: Hyundai has partnered with several Swiss companies to lease hydrogen trucks while building a value chain to support them (including investments in renewable-powered “green” hydrogen—head to our report for more). Meanwhile, Toyota has plans to develop a hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered big rig for the North American market with its subsidiary Hino Motors.

Reason to celebrate

And seeing as it was also National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day in the U.S. last Thursday (which you knew, obviously), here are a few more hydrogen developments to celebrate: Fossil fuel giant Shell is planning to use hydrogen fuel cells in its shipping business. And the world’s first double-decker hydrogen-powered buses arrived in Scotland last week. 

Made in Canada

Not to rain on hydrogen fuel cells’ parade, but battery-electric vehicles also had a good week. The federal and Ontario governments promised to invest $295 million each in Ford Motor’s Oakville manufacturing plant for the mass production of electric vehicles. The move has resurrected the EV rebate conversation in Ontario. It’s clear the province thinks EVs are the future—should it now be helping more Ontarians buy them? After all, a study released last week joined a growing list of resources that indicate buying electric saves money, even with a higher upfront purchase cost.

Charging the transition

It’s not just Canadian manufacturing that stands to benefit from the shift to EVs. Tesla is in conversations with mining company Vale SA about acquiring Canadian nickel for its batteries in a potentially “giant” contract. And who knows, now that a subsidiary of TD Bank is launching a project to install Tesla’s batteries in Alberta’s power grid, maybe Canadian nickel will be helping to make Canadian electricity even cleaner.

Alberta rich in (clean energy) resources

Indeed, there is abundant opportunity for Canadian—specifically Albertan—resources in the clean transition. Last week, the Albertan government released its natural gas and hydrogen plan. As our report elaborates (seriously, check it out if you haven’t already), hydrogen could create opportunities in the oil patch—but a good long-term strategy will need to focus on creating the world’s cleanest hydrogen if we don’t want to be outcompeted. The provincial government also took steps to support Alberta’s geothermal industry last week, saying it will table legislation to “ensure the province has the regulatory and investment climate in place to make it competitive.” 

Solar schematics

Because we all love a good chart, here’s one showing corporate investment in solar energy in terms of installed capacity in the U.S. Apple is at the front of the array, closely followed by Amazon. As the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association put it, “Businesses are choosing solar energy because it can significantly curb their energy costs and add predictability during these uncertain times.” 

A message from Mark

Former governor of the banks of both Canada and England Mark Carney has a message for Canada’s climate policy makers: If we’re going to hit our net-zero target, we need “clear policy—with teeth. Consistent direction. Mandated rules for disclosure from the private sector.” Canada is currently “just flirting with these ideas. But with some political effort, we could get there.”

Hey, big spender

The International Monetary Fund has said that “governments should step up public investments to boost their economies” in the wake of the pandemic. Investing in clean energy has been shown to have a better return on investment than fossil fuel spending, a memo that U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson seems to have read after he pledged to up investments in renewable energy to drive economic regeneration. Meanwhile, the EU Parliament has voted in favour of increasing its greenhouse gas emission reductions targets to 60% by 2030—a move that will undoubtedly shift its economy in the right low-carbon direction.

Kugaaruk goes solar

The hamlet of Kugaaruk in Nunavut is on track to use solar panels atop its community centre to power a community freezer in the summer months. As the director of the Pembina Institute's renewables in remote communities program put it, projects like this are “building blocks for communities, to get… into bigger and more robust projects that will take a bite out of diesel."

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Clean Energy Review is a weekly digest of climate and clean energy news and insight from across Canada and around the world.

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