Canada to shun Russia energy, signs hydrogen deal with Germany

Hydrogen Project. Image credit: Unsplash/ Federico Beccari

Ottawa/CMEDIA: Citing reportedly the need to shun Russian energy, Canada signed on Monday an agreement with Germany to accelerate work towards the commercial-scale trade of clean hydrogen fuel.

Indigenous representatives reportedly were also said to be present for the signing

Included in this agreement were proposed projects in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia.

Canada’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Jonathan Wilkinson, traveled to Hamburg, Germany, on March 17–18, 2024, to participate in the Canada–Germany Hydrogen and Ammonia Producer-Offtaker Conference.

While in Hamburg, Wilkinson will meet with Dr. Robert Habeck, German Vice Chancellor and Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Action, and make a hydrogen announcement.

A memorandum of understanding was inked between the two nations committing them to backing transactions between Canadian hydrogen producers and Germany’s industrial manufacturing and energy distribution sectors.

“Canada is working with European allies to displace imports of Russian oil and gas and fight climate change with clean Canadian hydrogen. Canada can be a world-leading producer and exporter of clean hydrogen,” the federal natural resources ministry was reported saying in a statement.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed in August 2022, to establish a transatlantic supply corridor while coordinating policies to attract investments in hydrogen projects.

The deal envisaged Canadian exports to Germany starting in 2025.

Calling the agreement as “historic,” Wilkinson reportedly said that it is a huge step forward in terms of the creation of jobs and prosperity

“It is a huge step forward and it is something that I think people in Newfoundland and Labrador can be enormously optimistic about in terms of the creation of jobs and prosperity,” Wilkinson

According to a press release from Natural Resources Canada, the memorandum, signed Monday, accelerates the hydrogen trade between Germany and Canada, with exports beginning as early as next year.

Nova Scotia has seen only two projects— Everwind and Bear Head Energy’s respective Point Tupper plants — pass environmental assessment so far although these projects still have to clear assessments for the wind farms that will power it.

World Energy GH2’s proposed wind-to-hydrogen project on the Port au Port Peninsula in Newfoundland is still awaiting approval under the province’s environmental assessment process. 

“But certainly we are creating a frame where we believe that projects once they proceed through that, assuming they do, can actually be commercially viable,” Wlikinson said.

Hydrogen, being a zero-carbon fuel best suited for powering large industrial machines, heavy vehicles and for heating.

Todate Canada has announced more than 80 low-carbon hydrogen production projects.

Although one of the first projects’ start was delayed last year by one year due to more time needed by the operator’s European customers to develop special infrastructure to handle the product.

In Canada, eight out of 10 families in backstop provinces receive more money back from Carbon Rebate than they pay into the system, with lower-income households benefiting the most.

The increase of the tax to $80 per tonne from $65 has been protested by the provincial premiers from across the country.

The federal government needs to do more to convince Canadians of the policy’s benefits, Wilkinson said Sunday.

“I think we do need to do a better job of communicating the affordability dimensions of the price on pollution, because it is something that makes life more affordable,” he said.

“When carbon pollution pricing is done right…ensuring they receive more back than they pay…gives eight out of 10 families more back than they pay,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland said last month.