‘“I think that the government’s anticipated strategy for green hydrogen and biofuels will help us define our priorities for developing this sector…” Such was the first reply given by Vincent Regnault, Énergir’s executive director for gas supply and renewable gases development, at a panel entitled Green Hydrogen and Biofuels: Roadmap to 2030, which took place on May 17.
As part of ‘Green Economy Week’ (Semaine de l’Économie verte), approximately 100 participants as well as major players from the green hydrogen and biofuels sector came together for the aforementioned panel organized by Nergica in collaboration with CITEQ (Catalyseur d’innovation pour la transition énergétique au Québec). Discussions focused on the challenges and opportunities for making these technologies an integral part of the Quebec ecosystem over the next decade. This panel echoed the consultations on the provincial strategy held by Quebec’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.
Technologies waiting to be deployed
Panel moderator, Nergica knowledge broker and CITEQ member Alexandra Gellé first questioned the panelists on what they consider to be the most important element for these technologies to carve out their niche in the market. Panelists unanimously pointed to the positioning of the Quebec government as essential to create a value chain and an economic model and ultimately promote the development of the biofuel and green hydrogen industries.
It is therefore easy to understand that industry players are eagerly anticipating the conclusions of the consultations held in 2021 by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, which saw the submission of 30 papers by various experts in these fields. This Quebec strategy will allow the province to position itself and establish targets, which should secure the market and generate the kind of investment needed for the large-scale rollout of these technologies.
A promising future
One of the key take-aways of this panel is that neither the maturity of these technologies nor their current cost appears to be a limiting factor to integrating green hydrogen and biofuels through 2030. In fact, the panelists seemed confident that the costs of these technologies will be sufficiently competitive to enrich the Quebec energy mix, especially if the carbon tax is taken into account, explained Nergica researcher Yanick Paquet. Green hydrogen and grey hydrogen could reach cost parity by 2030 according to the Hydrogen Insights Report (2021) prepared by the Hydrogen Council and McKinsey & Company.
Bruno Pollet, director of the Institut de recherche sur l’hydrogène and professor at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, argues that it would be interesting to study the metal resources present in Quebec to determine the most promising and most efficient types of electrolyzers for the province. For example, Air Liquide’s plant in Bécancour, with its 20 MW proton exchange membrane electrolyzer (currently the largest in the world), produces approximately 3,000 tonnes of green hydrogen annually, whereas the hydrogen strategy published by Natural Resources Canada forecasts a need for 20 megatonnes by 2050.
Recovery of forest biomass as a means of hydrogen production, as well as methane and biofuel, was addressed by Papa Niokhor Diouf, scientific director at Serex, a research centre specializing in the optimum use of forestry resources in the field of renewables. A number of processes such as pyrolysis, gasification and pyro-gasification can be used to obtain biofuels, in addition to being complementary to electrolysis for the production of hydrogen.
Karim Belmokhtar, senior project manager at Nergica and senior researcher at CITEQ, presented the needs of two of CITEQ’s missions, namely knowledge sharing and the training of tomorrow’s human resources, in order to ensure rapid expansion of green technologies and thereby contribute to the electrification of the economy as targeted by the Quebec government. This point was also raised by Vincent Regnault, who emphasized the importance of research to support the development of these technologies.
Here are a few thoughts shared by our panelists to ensure the success of these green technologies, help reduce GHG emissions and advance toward a carbon neutral future:
“Never neglect the question of social acceptability in any infrastructure project, green or not, it is always an issue.”
– Vincent Regnault, Executive Director, Gas Supply and Renewable Gases Development
“Do not neglect the impact that all these processes can have on the environment. For the simple reason that we want to be green so we should make sure to make the right energy and environmental choice too.”
– Papa Niokhor Diouf, Scientific director, Serex
“We need to better manage the variability of wind and solar resources with hydrogen, which can be used, in particular, as a medium- to long-term storage method. By producing more in the spring, summer and fall, for example, with photovoltaic energy, we can better manage peak consumption in winter.”
– Yanick Paquet, Analyst Research and Innovation, Nergica
“We’re going to need investments for R&D. What will allow us to deploy these technologies will really be demonstration projects.”
– Bruno Pollet, Professor at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and director of the Institut de recherche sur l’hydrogène
“The technologies discussed today are interesting alternatives to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, but we must not forget that this will lead to an increase in the need for green electricity! The production of electricity from solar photovoltaic and wind power, which is increasingly competitive, is an important asset for advancing the green hydrogen and bioenergy industries.”
– Karim Belmokhtar, Senior project manager at Nergica and senior researcher at CITEQ
The panel demonstrated the importance of being well prepared in order to deploy the green hydrogen and biofuel sectors, in addition to the critical need for a general mobilization of the industry, the research sector and public authorities. Though the potential for positive spin-offs is considerable, the issues to be overcome are also numerous, which is why it is so important that we work together. Biofuels and green hydrogen could then contribute to GHG emission reductions and put Quebec on the path to carbon neutrality.
Access to all exchanges
To learn more about the use of hydrogen in heat networks, Énergir’s renewable natural gas strategy, the use of these technologies in remote communities and more, recordings of the presentations and the panel are available. :
What is CITEQ and the Escouade Energie?
CITEQ (Catalyst for Innovation in Quebec’s Energy Transition) is a group of energy transition specialists financed by the Fonds de recherche du Québec. Its objective is to stimulate knowledge sharing and promote exchanges between the practical and research communities. CITEQ-FRQNT is the scientific component of the Escouade Énergie, which is a group of 15 CCTTs working to promote the energy transition in Quebec. The Escouade Énergie is a catalyst for the human, material and financial resources of the CCTTs to accelerate the adoption and adaptation of energy transition technologies in companies and the training of the next generation.