A paper highlighting key considerations and recommendations for the development of the low-carbon hydrogen economy in Ontario was developed by the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership (SLEP). It was developed to dovetail with the Ontario Low-Carbon Hydrogen Strategy – Discussion Paper (November 2020) and to provide input in the development of a strategy to grow Ontario’s hydrogen economy.
In developing the submission, SLEP consulted with more than forty experts across the hydrogen value chain including leaders from ten private sector industrial operations, and six stakeholders from academia and research, government, and industrial support organizations. Stakeholders highlighted that the Sarnia-Lambton area is the best place for the focused development of the low-carbon economy to create opportunity for all of Ontario, and that the Government of Ontario recognize and support the Sarnia-Lambton area as Ontario’s Hydrogen Hub. The continued development of the low-carbon economy in the Sarnia-Lambton area creates environmental and economic opportunity for all of Ontario, including investment attraction, job creation and competitiveness.
The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, industry and stakeholders agreed that the Ontario Low-Carbon Hydrogen Strategy is important to the development of a low-carbon economy and Ontario’s ability to achieve environmental and climate change goals. Key findings for consideration as part of Ontario’s Strategy include:
- The Sarnia-Lambton area is Ontario’s largest cluster of current and potential hydrogen producers and users, with unique competitive advantages, positioning the region to become Ontario’s leading producer, user, and exporter of low-carbon hydrogen, and hydrogen technologies and services.
- The Sarnia-Lambton hub has the capabilities to work with emerging hubs and stakeholders – to drive hydrogen production, research, piloting and demonstration, training, and deployment across Ontario.
- The Sarnia-Lambton area presents Ontario’s most immediate opportunity to leverage existing grey hydrogen production with immediate, short-term, and long-term local opportunities associated with blue and green hydrogen production, fuels cells, hydrogen storage, and hydrogen blending.
- The hydrogen economy represents an opportunity to diversify the Sarnia-Lambton area’s industrial mix, while integrating with core industry to shift towards a low-carbon economy.
- Ontario can leverage the Sarnia-Lambton area’s established energy and infrastructure assets, research capabilities, and properly skilled workforce to spur the development of targeted opportunities across the low-carbon hydrogen value chain, with impacts and results possible in the near-term.
- The Commercialization Hub process that successfully supported the development of the Sarnia-Lambton Hybrid Chemistry Cluster will be immediately applicable to developing Ontario’s hydrogen economy.
Key Recommendations to Reduce Barriers
Stakeholder engagement identified recommendations to reduce barriers associated with the development and implementation of the low-carbon economy in the Sarnia-Lambton area and Ontario:
- Identify methods of creating predictable, long-term demand for low-carbon hydrogen and industrial products before industry can invest in these projects.
- Encourage the use of low-carbon hydrogen technologies by producers and end users via a combination of incentivizing low-carbon use, and penalizing stakeholders who do not meet defined targets.
- Incentivize the movement to low-carbon production methods, through incentive programs that support innovation and development, one-time capital investments, and on-going production and use.
- Lower the cost of electricity for use in low-carbon hydrogen technologies.
- Integrate the strategy with interprovincial and national codes and standards and aligning with those found in key export markets such as the United States.
- Standardize low-carbon intensity across the hydrogen and related energy sectors, rather than concentrating on colour coded low-carbon production types – grey, green and blue.
The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership has also made presentations to Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and multi-ministry stakeholders and looks forward to continued collaboration with the Ontario government on the development of the province’s low-carbon hydrogen strategy.