ATCO hydrogen blending project receives funding from ERA

ATCO's hydrogen blending facility opened in Jandakot, Australia in July 2019 and is being used to test integration of hydrogen into the natural gas network

ATCO's hydrogen blending project in Australia has been in operation since 2019. Australian Pipeliner photo.

Canadian Utilities announced it has been awarded $2.8 million in funding from Emission Reductions Alberta’s Natural Gas Challenge.  The ATCO company says the funds will go towards advancing its first-of-its-kind hydrogen blending project in Fort Saskatchewan.

Once construction of the $5.7 million project is complete, it will be Canada’s largest hydrogen blending project and will inject up to five per cent hydrogen by volume into a section of Fort Saskatchewan’s residential natural gas distribution network.  The project will source and test equipment and determine applicability of existing codes, standards, and legislation.

The Calgary-based company says its hydrogen blending operation will lower the carbon intensity of the natural gas stream for its customers.

Siegfried Kiefer, President & Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Utilities said “Affordably decarbonizing the production of heat is vital to achieve our long-term emissions and energy goals, particularly in our cold Canadian climate, and hydrogen can play a powerful role.”

Kiefer added that Alberta has “all the ingredients needed to be a leader in the hydrogen economy—including the ability to produce near zero-emissions hydrogen at a lower cost than virtually any other jurisdiction in the world.”

According to Canadian Utilities, the project will use blue hydrogen made from domestically-produced natural gas.  The company says it intends to eventually use Alberta’s existing carbon capture and sequestration infrastructure to store emissions created during hydrogen production.

Canadian Utilities says it will engage with customers and the Fort Saskatchewan community in an effort to create awareness about the safety of hydrogen, its environmental benefits and considerable economic potential.

“This project will not only create jobs, but a roadmap for hydrogen in Alberta, using low-cost, responsibly produced natural gas while leveraging the province’s existing investment in carbon capture technology,” said George Lidgett, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Utilities, Canadian Utilities.

“Our vision is to enable Western Canada’s world-class natural gas industry to grow in tandem with Alberta’s hydrogen economy, including supplying eventual exports to global markets where demand is steadily growing,” said Lidgett.

ATCO says the Fort Saskatchewan Blending Project is expected to get underway in September with commercial and community activities and construction is planned to begin in early 2021.

“This project demonstrates Fort Saskatchewan’s commitment to sustainability and reducing emissions, while supporting our local economy,” said Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur.

Last year, ATCO officially opened its world-class Clean Energy Innovation Hub in Western Australia. According to ATCO, the facility is a test bed for hybrid energy solutions and integrates natural gas, solar PV, battery storage and clean hydrogen production.

As well, ATCO is working with Fortescue Metals Group in Australia to explore hydrogen vehicle fuelling infrastructure in Western Australia and has recently been awarded funding by the government of Western Australia to conduct a feasibility study into the development of a commercial scale hydrogen production plant.

According to a press release from ATCO, blending hydrogen into the natural gas grid is being tested in several countries, including the United KingdomAustraliaThe NetherlandsGermanyDenmark and France, with concentrations reaching up 30 to per cent by volume.



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