The Hydrogen Answer to Alberta's Perfect Storm

The Hydrogen Answer to Alberta's Perfect Storm

July 17, 2020

A few weeks ago in this Bottom Line blog post I talked about some Edmonton Strathcona thought leaders who are doing amazing work on climate change.

I’ve brought them into my campaign team, and we’re making climate change a key component of our campaign for the Edmonton Strathcona Conservative nomination, and then in the next federal election.

Climate change? As a Conservative? In Alberta?

Yep. Here’s why.

It’s our belief that Canada can step boldly onto the world stage and become a leading producer of carbon-free hydrogen, and do it at a lower cost than almost any place in the world. And, here’s the kicker: in doing so, Canada can compete in a low-carbon future and grow our economy sustainably.

Earlier this week David Staples of The Edmonton Journal noted that an aggressive move by California’s green lobby to severely limit production of diesel fueled trucks in that state could open the door for Alberta to find new markets for its natural gas.

“That gas can already economically be turned into clean-burning hydrogen fuel, the only reasonable existing option – other than gas and diesel – for powering transport trucks and other large vehicles,” he wrote.

Hydrogen fuel can be used to power trucks, trains, boats planes and major factories which require too much energy for electric batteries to power.

Staples points out that Alberta’s natural gas, combined with carbon capture and storage, can produce low-emission hydrogen fuel at low cost. There’s currently a push underway to get the three levels of government to support a hub of hydrogen fuel production, distribution and use here in Edmonton, capitalizing on Canada’s strengths in planning and executing major industrial projects.

This is something that as MP for Edmonton Strathcona I would strongly support.

It’s important to note that this vision of the future is clearly a conservative vision. Yes, an Albertan Conservative can indeed champion a low-carbon future and still protect jobs in our energy sector.

These are real solutions to our energy and emissions challenges. These differ dramatically from the failed Liberal and NDP-backed policies and regulations that essentially “leave it in the ground” and end up transferring jobs and prosperity of our industry to the USA, Saudi Arabia, or Russia, while doing absolutely nothing to solve our local and national emission challenges.

Backed by the federal NDP, the Trudeau government has passed legislation that either bans the export of our energy (C-48) or that puts such a burden on new projects (C-69). Even in a pre-COVID economy foreign direct investment was walking away from Canada and the Canadian natural resource industry.                    


The Perfect Storm

Edmonton Strathcona is, like everyone in Alberta, leaning into the winds of a perfect storm of weak oil prices, lack of pipeline capacity and, now, COVID-19.  Unemployment, poverty, mental health issues and opioid overdoses – all linked to a bleak economic outlook – are rising sharply.

So, what’s it going to take to get the economy turned around? Where do we find shelter in this perfect storm?

We know what’s not going to work – and that’s the same old same old. Yes, fossil fuels are still going to be around for decades, but the shift to a transitional economy is already well under way. The country that doesn’t get in front of that wave will be left behind.

The smart money in Edmonton is already lining up behind hydrogen as a way to bring sustainable prosperity and economic growth. Edmonton has a competitive edge in that we can produce this energy at a lower cost than almost any place in the world. If we dream big enough, Edmonton can become a clean energy hub, with hydrogen as our #1 product.

Are oil and gas going away any time soon? No. However, we must start to make investments that leverage our expertise in energy, and diversify the portfolio of energy products we offer to the world.

The Bottom Line is this: now is the time to make intelligent, thoughtful and bold bets on Canada’s future. Hydrogen is one of those bold ideas we need to get behind.

As your Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona, with decades of private sector experience focused on getting things done, I’ll do just that – with the help of you and our energy thought leaders in our riding.


- Rick Peterson


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