Fueling The Future

Director of investments and strategic planning, Eric Van Enk.August 23, 2021

On August 13th, Invest Medicine Hat and the City of Medicine Hat announced the launch of a hydrogen hub task force that will analyze how a transition to a low-carbon, hydrogen-based economy would contribute economic growth to Southeast Alberta.

Director of investments and strategic planning Eric Van Enk says infrastructure, such as pipelines and Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS), will be built and maintained to shift the economy from oil and gas to hydrogen, which would create thousands of jobs and inject millions of dollars into the local economy.

“We believe transitioning to a hydrogen-based economy has the potential to replace the impact that the oil and gas sector once had for the City of Medicine hat and Southeast Alberta,” says Van Enk. “This means putting Albertans back to work in an industry requiring a similarly-skilled workforce and creating much needed tax revenue.”

In the past, Van Enk says because of its substantial amount of oil and gas, Medicine Hat didn’t have to rely on the rest of the country or develop deep relationships with the federal government. To advance the Southeast Alberta Hydrogen Hub Invest Medicine Hat coordinated with all levels of local, provincial and federal governments, as well as public and private companies to create actionable projects on the back of the foundational study being completed by the Transition Accelerator at the University of Calgary.

Because of Medicine Hat’s history with oil and gas, the city provides compatible resources and existing infrastructure that could be used for a hydrogen hub including, seismic data, abandoned well bores, pipelines and compression equipment.

“The oil and gas industry has been in general decline since 2014 and hasn’t rebounded in Medicine Hat the way it has in some other basins due to our basin having higher production costs. Building a hydrogen hub can ‘move the needle’ in terms of repositioning the Southeast Alberta economy,” says Van Enk.

Since they expect the hub’s focus to be on green hydrogen production, which would necessitate building addition renewable power resources in the region, Medicine Hat could also be the place for manufacturing and maintaining wind and solar energy infrastructure along with hydrogen production and export.

“Methanex already produces hydrogen, and both Methanex and CF Industries are interested in pursuing green hydrogen to reduce their corporate carbon footprint as part of their manufacturing processes,” says Van Enk. “We want to create high paying jobs and prosperity for the region and to do so in a responsible manner that has support from all levels of government.”

The director says the net zero and low carbon economy movements have support both provincially and federally, which builds momentum for Medicine Hat to create a new industry and new jobs for the city and region.

In a media release posted on Aug. 13, 2021, Dan Wicklum, CEO, The Transition Accelerator stated the Southeast Alberta Task Force is the result of government and industry coming together to champion real change so Alberta can win economically and environmentally in a changing world.

“Picture Alberta using and supplying the world with zero-emission fuel made by upgrading natural gas or renewable energy. This could be a part of a very strong future for Alberta and Canada,” states Wicklum.

The Mayor of Medicine Hat states the foundational work will form the basis of a long-term, regional economic development strategy, with the goal of creating thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in the local economy.

“The City of Medicine Hat is proud to play a leadership role in establishing Canada’s second industrial hydrogen hub,” states Mayor Ted Clugston.

The release also stated that over the next six months, the Task Force will work collaboratively to set the stage for the long-term build out of a regional hydrogen economy.

The Task Force’s foundation work will be completed in early 2022, with a final report summarizing the effort to follow.

The Task Force is composed of Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan), City of Medicine Hat, City of Brooks, Palliser Economic Partnership, CF Industries, Methanex Corporation, APEX Regional Innovation Network (Alberta Innovates, Community Futures Entre-Corp and Medicine Hat College), RockPoint Gas Storage, Campus Energy, Envoy Energy and The Transition Accelerator, and was influenced by the Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force, whose research paved the way for the Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB to be established.

To learn more about the opportunities for low-carbon hydrogen in Canada, visit https://transitionaccelerator.ca/our-work/hydrogen/



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