Ontario’s Hydrogen Innovation Fund selects six projects for support

17 October 2023

The Ontario government has announced the first six projects that will receive funding from the Hydrogen Innovation Fund which was set up in February. This will kickstart and develop opportunities for low-carbon hydrogen to serve as a clean fuel. The Fund plans to invest CAD15m ($11m) over the next three years to kickstart and develop opportunities for hydrogen to be integrated into Ontario’s electricity system, including hydrogen electricity storage.

The six successful projects represent $7.5m in funding. “Our government is leveraging one of our province’s clear strengths – our world-class clean, reliable and affordable electricity system – to make us a leader in the growing hydrogen economy,” said Energy Minister Todd Smith. “Today’s investments…will kickstart new opportunities for hydrogen to be used as a clean fuel, creating new jobs and driving down emissions at the same time.”

The first six recipients of the Hydrogen Innovation Fund, administered by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), will focus on the opportunities for hydrogen to serve as a clean alternative fuel for transportation and other end-uses. They include:

  • Enbridge Gas, receiving CAD1,787,480 for North America’s first hydrogen driven Combined Heat & Power facility that can also blend hydrogen with natural gas to produce energy;
  • Emerald Energy from Waste, receiving $2.99m for a new facility that will produce hydrogen from waste to test its ability to provide electricity grid services and supply hydrogen to heavy duty vehicles;
  • Carlsun Energy Solutions, receiving $1,891,400 for a new electrolyser to test its ability to provide electricity grid services and supply a hydrogen fuelling station in Port Elgin;
  • Carlsun Energy Solutions, receiving an additional $500,000 for its Goderich and Seaforth locations to study the feasibility of using off-peak electricity to produce hydrogen for power generation and ammonia for fertiliser;
  • Kinectrics, receiving $250,000 to study the feasibility of integrating hydrogen production, hydrogen power generation and a hydrogen fuelling station; and
  • The University of Windsor, receiving $130,000 to research the potential of low-carbon hydrogen produced with wind.

Of these, the Kinetrics project plans to also make use of nuclear energy. It involves a feasibility study for a Hydrogen Hub in Toronto. Kinectrics and FuelCell Energy, supported by Bruce Power, will explore the potential to produce hydrogen using electricity generated by nuclear power.

The study will assess the potential of producing hydrogen through electrolysis, powered by a surrogate heat source to simulate a NPP and will explore the use of solid oxide fuel cells for power generation and as a clean fuel source for vehicles. The study will evaluate the economic feasibility, including installation, maintenance and operation costs of hydrogen production, storage, distribution and power generation infrastructure and aims to provide insights into the opportunities and challenges of hydrogen in the electricity system.

By exploring the potential of using nuclear energy as a low-carbon source for hydrogen production through solid-oxide fuel cells, the project establishes an approach that not only demonstrates the ability to manage grid reliability, peaking power and surplus generation locally, but also demonstrates a scalable approach that can be deployed at nuclear generating stations in Ontario.

According to Kinetrics, the project will seek to demonstrate the value of hydrogen as an integral part of the electrical grid, and will identify key environmental, safety, regulatory and operational considerations for its deployment. This project will serve as a pilot for broader deployment at a larger scale including integrating hydrogen systems with nuclear power plants including small modular reactors. The project team will seek to apply the lessons learned in this pilot to future commercial installations of hydrogen electrolysers and fuel cells.

“Nuclear power offers numerous advantages such as stable and continuous electricity supply, cost efficiency and carbon-free generation,” said Bruce Power Vice-President of Business Development & Energy Innovation Richard Horrobin. “We are pleased to support Kinectrics and FuelCell Energy as they take this step to explore the potential to use innovative new technology to harness the power of nuclear to produce low-carbon hydrogen.”

Kinectrics President & CEO David Harris noted: “Through our expertise, world-class laboratories, and innovation, we have the experience, people, and facilities to deliver solutions that will drive positive change in our energy systems. We are excited to embark on this next chapter with our project partners, Bruce Power, IESO, and FuelCell Energy to create meaningful opportunities to advance hydrogen production and improve grid reliability and flexibility.”

Lesley Gallinger, President and CEO of IESO said Ontario’s electricity grid is well-positioned to support the integration of hydrogen technologies. “We look forward to this study’s insights on how to best leverage Ontario’s clean electricity grid to produce low-carbon hydrogen,” he said.

FuelCell Energy's solid oxide fuel cell platform will form part of the project. "Power generation in Ontario is already among the cleanest in the world, thanks to nuclear energy," said the company's President and CEO Jason Few. "Producing hydrogen from zero carbon electricity allows for decarbonisation of other sectors of the economy as well, including light and heavy duty, rail, sea, and aviation transportation, industrial, and long duration energy storage."

Image courtesy of Kinetrics

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