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article imageCanada, Germany sign green-energy deal for hydrogen development

By Karen Graham     Mar 19, 2021 in Technology
Canada and Germany have signed an agreement to team up on green energy innovation, production, and trade, with an eye to green hydrogen as the market for the low-carbon fuel heats up.
Simply put, green hydrogen is a fuel that is created using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. And it has been in the news lately. President Joe Biden promised to use renewable energy to produce green hydrogen that costs less than natural gas. The US. Department of Energy is putting up to $100 million into the research and development of hydrogen and fuel cells.
Additionally, per Columbia University's State of the Planet, the European Union will invest $430 billion in green hydrogen by 2030 to help achieve the goals of its Green Deal. And Chile, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Australia are all making major investments in green hydrogen.
Green hydrogen energy is a very versatile zero-carbon fuel. It is made by electrolysis, using renewable power from wind and solar to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, according to Reuters.
The green energy agreement was signed by Canada and Germany on Tuesday. The two countries agree to cooperate on a green energy policy, and research in their joint effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Canada's Natural Resources Minister, Seamus O'Regan said Quebec and his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador are well-suited to start generating "green hydrogen," reports CTV News Canada.
O'Regan also stressed the need to retrain workers in regions where economies have relied on the fossil fuel industry, adding that the transition could be "messy."
"It often makes people on both sides of the political spectrum -- either side -- unhappy," he said in a virtual signing ceremony with Peter Altmaier, Germany's minister of economic affairs and energy. "Oil will be with us for some time, and it will continue to be a part of the Canadian economy, without question," O'Regan said.
Canada's hydrogen strategy
Canada wants to become one of the world's three biggest producers of hydrogen and to that end, the country launched its hydrogen strategy last December. The Canadian government put out a call for investors to help spur the new green energy technology that could be worth C$50 billion ($40 billion) and create 350,000 jobs.
Shell Stakeholder refuelling at the First Retail Hydrogen Fuelling station in Canada  Vancouver BC.
Shell Stakeholder refuelling at the First Retail Hydrogen Fuelling station in Canada, Vancouver BC.
Royal Dutch Shell / Brian Buchsdruecker
The European Union has a similar vision, revealed last year in July in its promotion of green hydrogen. They were looking to lure up to 470 billion euros in investments. However, some analysts see some tough challenges to overcome, especially in the cost of infrastructure, and conversion costs.
Actually, Canada has been focusing on so-called "blue hydrogen." Dr. Tim Sandle, with Digital Journal, did an interview in November with Whitaker Irvin, Jr. (Whit), the head of Q Hydrogen Commercialization.
Whitaker explained the environmental impact of different grades of hydrogen. He said: "To help us understand the level of environmental impact, the industry has come up with a color scheme to categorize the three most common methods of hydrogen production: Grey, Blue, and Green hydrogen."
He explained that grey is the cheapest and the worst on the environment because it is made from "natural gas or coal using carbon-intensive processes."
"Blue hydrogen is produced the same way but allows the carbon being emitted to be trapped and stored. Green Hydrogen is currently the most sustainable method of producing the molecule – it uses electrolysis, an electrochemical process by which water is split into hydrogen and oxygen," he said.
But as Whitaker explained, price is everything. And surprisingly, Whitaker says that truly "green hydrogen" has a slim chance of becoming a reality unless innovation can come up with a better way of producing this type of hydrogen.
And this is what Canada and Germany, as well as innovators in the U.S. and other countries, will need to do - put their heads together, sharing knowledge and know-how so that a zero-carbon future will become a reality.
More about canada and Germany, Green energy, green hydrogen, Canadian hydroelectric power, Renewable energy
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