Hydrogen Set To Replace Fossil Fuels
Hydrogen has been drawing hype as a potential replacement for gasoline and diesel for decades now. And while its use as a substitute for fossil fuels is still in its early stages, hydrogen’s popularity is burgeoning rapidly in Canada regardless.
The planet’s most abundant element significant potential when it comes to changing the nation’s transportation sector, along with its energy and electricity industries. Renewed interest in hydrogen vehicles has stemmed from the fact that they are virtually emission-free, with only water vapor being released from their exhaust pipes.
Toyota first began to invest in hydrogen back in the 1990’s, and later in 2014, revealed its very first duel cell car, the Mirai (which retails for $57,000). The government of Quebec will own 50 of these cars by the end of 2018, while Hyundai will also begin to sell the Nexo, its first fuel cell SUV model, in 2019.
More Refueling Stations Needed
In Canada, these vehicles face the same challenges as electric cars do; namely, the need to construct refueling stations. This is why automotive experts are predicting that traditional gas-fueled cars will dominate Canadian highways for years to come, until refueling stations are widespread enough for hydrogen vehicle owners to grow in number.
The first such hydrogen fueling station was opened in Vancouver this June, but countless more are needed to facilitate normal travel and commuting. In the engine of a hydrogen car, electricity is created through a chemical reaction when hydrogen combines with oxygen molecules. It is this electricity that powers the car’s engine.
At the moment, Calgary firms Enbridge and ATCO are both pioneering separate projects designed to use hydrogen to store electricity. ATCO has also built a new Australian facility that produces energy with solar panels, while storing any excess for later use. This, ATCO’s Patrick Creaghan noted, allows the company to provide its renewable businesses with backup energy should sun or winds be scarce.
Hydrogen for Electrical Stability
This project, however, is still in its infancy as well, and the technology is a good few years away from becoming available commercially. In the meantime, Nick Martin of the Canada West Foundation has warned that it is still to be seen whether the costs and efficiencies of producing hydrogen can be reduced to a viable commercial scale.
He added that there are many challenges ahead for low environmental impact energy, but said that hydrogen could definitely be one way to achieve success.
Some Canadian provinces like Alberta are currently investing heavily in renewable energy projects, while also seeking ways to overcome the sporadic energy production of solar and wind farms. Currently, power plants are still needed to maintain a constant electricity supply, but in the eyes of experts, large-scale hydrogen batteries could be a fortuitous answer to this ever-present problem.