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Ontario’s Hydrogen Hub in Sarnia-Lambton Strategic Plan

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Charley Rattan's picture
World Hydrogen Leader , Charley Rattan Associates

UK based offshore wind & hydrogen corporate advisor and trainer; Faculty member World Hydrogen Leaders. Delivering global hydrogen and offshore wind corporate investment advice, business...

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  • Jan 7, 2023

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Ontario’s Hydrogen Hub (H2ub) in the Sarnia-Lambton region in Southern Ontario is home to Ontario’s largest cluster of current and potential hydrogen producers and users, comprised of major industrial facilities across the petrochemical and refining, hybrid chemistry, advanced manufacturing, and value-added agriculture sectors.

Over 150,000 tonnes of hydrogen are produced and utilized within Sarnia-Lambton each year as feedstock for refining, chemicals, and fertilizer production. While the current hydrogen produced, traded, and used in the region is almost entirely sourced from steam methane reforming of natural gas, also known as grey hydrogen, the region has ambitions to build on its existing industry, hydrogen supply chain, and strategic advantages to become the largest low-carbon H2ub in Ontario.

The consultations and investigations completed through the development of this Strategic Plan support the clear advantages and opportunities for a low-carbon H2ub in Sarnia-Lambton as one of the leading potential hydrogen hubs in Canada. The region has extensive advantages through existing industry and connecting infrastructure (notably including an existing 30-km pure hydrogen pipeline network), highly-skilled workforce, established research and development leadership, export routes and infrastructure via road, rail, water, and pipeline, and opportunities for key enabling infrastructure to support a large-scale sustainable hydrogen economy including salt caverns for underground hydrogen storage as well as reservoirs and oil fields for carbon capture and storage (CCS) and enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

Liquid hydrogen and ammonia are currently being produced in the region and exported across Canada and the US from Air Products’ Sarnia Liquefaction Plant and CF Industries’ facilities. Sania-Lambton is a major energy-consuming area of the province, largely supplied by natural gas. There is significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) for the large industrial emitters in the region by displacing natural gas with low carbon hydrogen.

The demand forecasting detailed within the Foundation Report indicates incredible opportunity for scaling-up the local low-carbon H2ub in Sarnia-Lambton through replacing existing hydrogen demand with low-carbon hydrogen, blending hydrogen into the region’s 4 natural gas power plants to reduce peak carbon intensity of the Ontario electric grid, blending hydrogen into industrial natural gas heating systems to tackle large-scale industrial emissions reductions, and blending hydrogen into the local low-pressure gas distribution network feeding residential, commercial, and light-industrial customers (separate network than that which feeds the large industrial facilities in the region):

• By 2030, demand for low-carbon hydrogen could range from 25,000 tonnes per year to over 60,000 tonnes per year. • By 2050, demand could range from nearly 500,000 tonnes per year to over 1 million tonnes per year in the region alone. Assuming the Transformational scenario in Canada’s Hydrogen Strategy, which estimates a national market size of 20 million tonnes hydrogen per year by 2050, Sarnia-Lambton’s demand could comprise between 2.5 and 5% of low-carbon hydrogen demand across the country. Furthermore, Sarnia-Lambton is strategically positioned to take advantage of potential sources of demand and export markets that are difficult to predict today and not included in the presented forecasts.

Converting shipping through the Great Lakes to low-carbon ammonia or hydrogen fuel, supplying hydrogen to the large steel plants near Hamilton and future fueling stations along Hwy 401 (Montreal-to-Detroit corridor), exporting hydrogen and ammonia to merchant markets across North America, conversion of mobile heavy-duty equipment to hydrogen (tractors, etc.), potential hydrogen utilization at airports to offset fossil fuels, blending hydrogen into the natural gas transmission network from the central Dawn Hub, and more are not included in the current forecasts and can result in much higher-than forecasted demand

Stay informed: Hydrogen Canada




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