Canada is expected to have one of the largest green hydrogen plants in the world

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The Thyssenkrupp logo was displayed in front of the Essen office.

INA FASSBENDER | AFP | Getty Images

A major green hydrogen project in Canada took another step forward with an engineering contract from a subsidiary of German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp.

The agreement announced on Monday calls for Thyssenkrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers’ green hydrogen products division to install an 88-megawatt water electrolysis plant for Hydro-Québec, a provincial government-backed energy company.

Electrolysis splits water into oxygen and hydrogen. If the electricity used comes from a renewable source – such as wind – it is referred to as “green hydrogen”.

The electricity for the project in Canada will come from hydropower. According to the Canadian government, hydropower is responsible for 59.6% of the country’s electricity generation.

Thyssenkrupp said the new facility will be built in Varennes, Québec, and will be able to produce 11,100 tons of green hydrogen per year.

The hydrogen and oxygen produced by the unit – the oxygen is a by-product of the process – is intended to be used in a biofuel plant to produce biofuels for transportation. The commissioning of the plant for green hydrogen is planned for the end of 2023.

Sami Pelkonen, CEO of the Chemical & Process Technologies division of Thyssenkrupp, described the project in Québec as “an excellent example of how important the interaction between secure access to competitive renewable energy and the use of scaled technologies for hydrogen production is”.

Finally, Canada could be home to a number of green hydrogen plants. Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, for example, is part of a consortium looking to develop another large facility in British Columbia, west of the country.

Big plans, big supporters, big challenges

In recent years, large companies such as Repsol, Siemens Energy, Orsted and BP have been involved in projects related to the production of green hydrogen.

The EU has also made plans to install 40 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysers and produce up to 10 million tons of renewable hydrogen by 2030.

Currently, however, the majority of hydrogen production is based on fossil fuels, which in turn has an impact on the environment. The IEA has stated that hydrogen production is responsible for around 830 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

In this context, the idea of ​​green hydrogen is so attractive, despite the fact that its role in the overall energy mix is ​​small and, according to Wood Mackenzie, accounts for only 0.1% of global hydrogen production in 2020.

Green hydrogen is also expensive to make, but according to an August 2020 report by Wood Mackenzie, costs could decrease by up to 64% by 2040.