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Renewable energy hub: Hydro, solar, hydrogen in one place

A rooftop solar array powers both the hydrogen fuelling station and nearby electric vehicle charging stations, according to the University of B.C.
At UBC’s energy hub, solar panels power a hydrogen-fuelling ­station and electric-vehicle charging station. UNIVERSITY OF B.C.

VANCOUVER — Metro ­Vancouver now has a hydrogen-fuelling ­station that operates on ­renewable energy thanks to a new $23-million hydrogen energy centre at the University of B.C.

The Smart Hydrogen Energy District, also called SHED, at the Point Grey campus, is the first in the province to combine hydro, solar and hydrogen at a single site, according to UBC. The renewable energy sources are all connected to a unified micro-grid.

Hydrogen as an automotive fuel is becoming more available as an option to clean up carbon emissions from transportation.

Energy Minister Josie Osborne called SHED “yet another leap forward” in building a clean economy.

“By integrating energy, transportation, and design, SHED not only supports our CleanBC goals but it also positions British Columbia as a world leader in the hydrogen economy,” she said, at the launch of the hub this week.

UBC president Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon said the new centre will provide significant new research and learning opportunities for the province.

“Hydrogen can play a critical role in Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Dr. Walter Mérida, SHED research lead and professor of mechanical engineering in the faculty of applied science, in a statement released by UBC.

“With SHED, we demonstrate hydrogen as a bridge between renewable electricity and sustainable energy services. As technologies become smart and interconnected, we can stop thinking of gas, electrical and digital networks as separate entities.”

A rooftop solar array powers both the hydrogen fuelling station and nearby electric vehicle charging stations, according to UBC.

Funding for the centre comes from the province ($8.3 million in low-carbon fuel standard credits,) the federal government ($5 million,) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation ($4.6 million.) The rest comes from industry partners.

Last year, Burnaby-headquartered Hydrogen Technologies and Energy Corp. unveiled its fifth hydrogen fuelling station in Kelowna, and the first outside the Lower Mainland. The other stations are in Saanich, North Vancouver, Vancouver and Burnaby.

UBC said these stations can fuel light- to medium-duty vehicles such as a small delivery truck. However, the hydrogen fuel station at UBC will be the first in the province to service heavy-duty vehicles.

Vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells emit only water vapour and along with battery-powered electric vehicles are growing in use as governments transition away from fossil fuels in an effort to limit global warming.

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