|Hydrogen is building momentum nationally and internationally and will play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and diversifying our energy system. With the pending release of the Canadian National Hydrogen Strategy, BC Bioenergy Network (BCBN) is pleased to announce the completion of a business case analyzing potential hydrogen production by British Columbia’s (B.C.’s) pulp and paper sector.
The premise for the study is for pulp mills to incorporate electrolysis into their operations using renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. It investigated multiple end-use applications for hydrogen, including sale to the transportation and industrial gas markets, internal use at the mill and blending with the natural gas network.
The study determined that mills could be ideal sites for hydrogen production as they have access to significant energy infrastructure with concentrated demand for gaseous heating fuel and oxygen. A lighthouse project that demonstrates the advantages of integrating an industrial site such as a pulp mill with hydrogen production could help launch the renewable hydrogen economy in B.C.
The study also recognized that electrolyzer projects require large up-front capital investments, generate lengthy returns on investment, and require low-cost power to drive stable long-term demand for the hydrogen gas. Recognizing these hurdles to implementation reveals the necessity for a more in-depth economic analysis.
“This pre-feasibility study indicates B.C.’s pulp and paper mills are ideally suited for hydrogen production as they have significant energy and utility infrastructure as well as on site demand for process heat and oxygen,” said Bob Lindstrom, Manager of the BC Pulp & Paper Bio-Alliance. “Pulp mills could support the new emerging energy landscape and provide a key building block for future investment in hydrogen solutions across BC.”
“This study demonstrates a potential novel approach to help decarbonize B.C.’s transport and energy sectors,” said Sybil Seitzinger, Executive Director, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. “This type of green hydrogen innovation could support the increased production of renewable gas and provide carbon-free fuel, while also helping the forestry industry diversify and compete.”
“FortisBC identified hydrogen as a key component of its strategy to meet its 30BY30 target and beyond” said John Quinn, Senior Manager, Renewable Gas Supply at FortisBC. “Hydrogen generation at a B.C. pulp mill will facilitate the development of the hydrogen economy and allow integration into the gas system.”
“The transportation sector was identified as the key driver for the business case,” said Jeff Grant, Principal at Zen Clean Energy Solutions. “The demand for low carbon intensity hydrogen in B.C. is expected to grow with increased utilization by the zero-emissions transportation sector as well as the Province’s commitment to make natural gas cleaner with a minimum 15% to come from renewable gas”
“This was a remarkable collaboration involving B.C.’s forest sector, FortisBC, industry associations, and Provincial research institutions,” said Scott Stanners, Executive Director at BCBN. “We are pleased by the dedication of our expert working group to advancing the low-carbon economy in B.C.”
The Hydrogen Generation in B.C.’s Pulp and Paper Sector pre-feasibility report and presentation are available for download below.