Hydrogen is of great interest as an energy source, and is attracting more and more attention in terms of achieving sustainable development goals. But what exactly is it? Although it is the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen barely exists, if at all, in its pure state in nature. Due to its strong reactivity, it associates with other atoms to form more stable molecules, such as water (H20) or methane (CH4). It is considered an energy vector because, once isolated, it can store, transport and replenish energy.
To put it simply, it is produced by applying an electrical charge to water, which breaks the link between the atoms forming the H2O molecule, thereby yielding two distinct gases: hydrogen and oxygen. This procedure is called electrolysis. The resulting hydrogen is then captured for future use of the potential energy it contains, whereas the oxygen can be captured and transported, or simply released into the atmosphere. To obtain green hydrogen, we have to use electricity generated through 100% renewable sources such as hydroelectric dams, wind farms, solar farms, biomass and geothermal energy When it is used, hydrogen reacts with the ambient oxygen and releases a tremendous amount of energy in the form of heat or electricity, giving off nothing but water vapour as its combustion gas.
An exciting homegrown project
More and more major projects are underway, while others are taking shape. Gazifère and Evolugen recently announced the development of one of the largest Canadian projects for the injection of green hydrogen into a gas distribution system in Quebec. It involves building and operating a 20 MW capacity plant in the Outaouais area for the production of hydrogen through electrolysis of water. More specifically, the plant would be built in Gatineau’s Masson-Angers sector close to Evolugen’s hydroelectric plant, which would be used to power the electrolyzer. It is estimated that somewhere in the neighbourhood of 425,000 GJ of green hydrogen would become available for injection into Gazifère’s natural gas distribution system, making it a one-of-a-kind project in Canada.
This project is perfectly in line with Gazifère’s objective of becoming the first natural gas distributor in North America to offer a system comprising 100% green and renewable energy by 2050. It will significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by more than 15,000 tonnes annually. It will also have notable local, provincial and national economic benefits in the form of new jobs and incremental property tax revenues. Hydrogen is considered the fuel of the future, with the promise of plenty of new possibilities.