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Hydrogen as a viable clean-energy source in North America

Nov 18, 2020

Hydrogen had been lagging behind other fossil fuel alternatives including wind, solar and hydro, but that has begun to change. Consider California’s push for hydrogen to power the country’s biggest market for electric vehicles. And the incoming Biden administration has made clear its agenda for clean energy, including hydrogen-based fuel sources, which are far more efficient than combustion sources.

Canada, with its abundant natural gas for conversion into hydrogen fuel, looks to be a major player in the burgeoning hydrogen market. Canadian provinces support H2 exports; utilities, power producers, engineering firms and technology companies are directing strategic efforts in response to an energy transition. Canada’s federal government is expected to soon unveil a national plan to ramp up hydrogen-energy production through its Natural Resources Canada. The shift will affect a broad range of sectors, including transportation, heavy industry, power generation, mining, construction, data storage, health care. 

In response to North America’s growing demand for hydrogen fuel, leading Canadian law firm Fasken has launched a new Hydrogen Energy Advisory Team, harnessing the firm’s considerable resources in related practices. Even the group’s acronym is catchy: H2EAT.

Fasken is already a top legal advisor for participants in all stages of the emerging hydrogen economy. The firm helps energy clients source supplies of renewables; evaluate hydrogen production technologies; raise debt and equity financing for hydrogen projects; secure patents and other intellectual property related to hydrogen conversion technology; and navigate regulatory requirements and codes covering everything from storage and transportation of hydrogen supplies to construction of modular reactors needed for production, as well as environmental certification.

Fasken represents numerous utilities in their efforts to “blend” hydrogen with natural gas distributed via the country’s extensive pipeline network. The firm is also counsel to H2GoCanada, a non-profit corporation created in 2018 expressly focused on accelerating development of Canada’s hydrogen market. H2Go is “structured to catalyze and mobilize hydrogen supply and demand, raise awareness through education and facilitate market demonstration projects of hydrogen systems.”

Co-leading Fasken’s new H2EAT initiative are Daniel Brock and Janet Howard.

Picture of Daniel Brock

Daniel Brock, chair of the Government Relations & Strategy practice group, is one of Canada’s top Government advisors and lobbyists. His practice in the energy industry focuses on renewables as well as power and oil & gas.

Picture of Janet Howard

Janet Howard, a partner in the firm’s corporate practice, focuses on corporate finance and M&A in the energy and natural resources industries, including the renewable energy and climate-change sectors. 

Mr. Brock notes that hydrogen offers an important pathway for Canada as the Government strives meet its deadline for carbon-free production.

“Canada and the world are moving inexorably toward a carbon-neutral future. And there is no pathway to net zero that does not include hydrogen energy and fuel-cell technologies at its core,” he says. “Fasken understands the complexities of our transition to clean energy and the challenges of creating strong and active markets for clean hydrogen. Solving intractable problems, overcoming regulatory barriers, unlocking government support, and creating real value for businesses in hydrogen energy, hydrogen supply chains, and hydrogen technology is our focus and our expertise.”

He adds: “Canada has all the advantages for producing clean hydrogen energy and will be a big supplier and producer. The US will be a prime market and Canada the Number One exporter.” Hydrogen suppliers in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia are expected to be prime sources, Mr. Brock says, noting that power companies will need to remake rate policies and rules around hydrogen usage.

Ms. Howard continues: “Conventional energy producers, transportation companies, and power suppliers are making substantial investments in hydrogen to promote reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and the entrepreneurial economy is capitalizing on a host of new technologies deploying hydrogen conversion. Meanwhile, the US and Canadian governments will add major stimulus packages to advance green energy programs – companies deploying and using hydrogen fuel will be well advantaged and supported by these packages.”

If you’re covering clean energy and the growing hydrogen market in North America and would like to speak with Fasken’s Hydrogen Energy Advisory Team, we’d be glad to arrange a call.

Josh Karlen jkarlen97@gmail.com
Allan Ripp 646-285-1779 arippnyc@aol.com  

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