Alberta Community Looking to Run Entirely on Hydrogen

Jennifer Leakos
Hydrogen community
Courtesy of H2IQ

A proposal for the first hydrogen-powered community in Canada has received $2 million in funding for a feasibility study. The plan is to build right outside Edmonton, Alberta, home of the NHL’s Oilers (which could change to the “Hydrogeners”??). 

The project is being executed by utility ATCO Gas and Qualico, a residential and commercial developer.

The deets: Initially, 150 homes will be built with the ultimate goal of being able to support 85,000 residents. These homes will use hydrogen for heating rather than natural gas. While this will change the type of furnace and meters, Qualico anticipates the cost of construction “shouldn’t change much” compared to conventional homes.   

Construction is scheduled to start in 2024, with people moving into the community in 2025. 

Other hydrogen communities around the world

Japan has been using hydrogen fuel cells to heat homes in Kobe, though its hydrogen strategy is not the ESG success story that it sounds like.

  • A report by the Renewable Energy Institute criticized Japan’s strategy, arguing that hydrogen is being used ineffectively, especially in vehicles and for heating where electrification options such as EVs and heat pumps are more efficient.

Japan also used grey hydrogen, which contributes to emissions as its produced with fossil fuels without capturing the carbon.

Zoom out: There are lessons to be learned from other countries that should be adopted into the Alberta project. But if feasible, this project could reduce reliance on natural gas in Alberta, a major energy source for the province, and build out more infrastructure for future hydrogen communities.