Air Products announces multi-billion dollar net-zero blue hydrogen energy complex in Edmonton, Alberta
Industrial gases leader Air Products, and its subsidiary Air Products Canada Ltd., in conjunction with the Government of Canada and the Province of Alberta, announced a multi-billion dollar plan to build a landmark new net-zero blue hydrogen energy complex.
Canada’s clean energy diversification strategy and regulatory framework make clear that hydrogen is a key enabler for carbon neutrality by 2050. Aligned with that vision, Air Products began work in 2018 on the core of this world-scale energy complex in Edmonton, which will begin with a transformative $1.3 billion (CAD) net-zero hydrogen production and liquefaction facility expected onstream in 2024.
This project has been approved by Air Products’ Board of Directors, subject to final completion of the agreements contemplated in signed Memorandums of Understanding between Air Products and Canadian authorities, and with appropriate permit approvals. This development is consistent with Air Products’ growth strategy of executing global megaprojects that enable a transition to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.
The project relies on an innovative combination of well-established technologies. The new facility will capture more than 95% of CO2 produced by generating hydrogen from the feedstock natural gas and store it safely back underground (i.e., blue hydrogen). Hydrogen-fueled electricity will offset the remaining five percent of emissions.
Air Products’ hydrogen business in Alberta is envisioned to reach more than 1,500 tonnes of hydrogen production per day and achieve greater than three million tonnes per year of CO2 capture. Initially, Air Products will build, own, and operate a new net-zero hydrogen complex consisting of a:
World-scale Auto-Thermal Reformer (ATR) hydrogen production facility, featuring Haldor Topsoe technology, to be built on a large project site in Edmonton that has room for expansion;
Carbon capture operations capable of achieving 95% removal of CO2 from the complex. The CO2 will be permanently sequestered by leveraging the Wolf Carbon Solutions wholly-owned and operated Alberta Carbon Trunk Line;
Power generation facility fueled 100% by hydrogen, including NovaLT16 turbines provided by Baker Hughes, to produce clean electricity for the entire facility and export to the grid, offsetting the five percent remaining CO2 to achieve the net-zero hydrogen facility design;
30 tonnes-per-day hydrogen liquefaction facility designed by Air Products, the first of such liquid hydrogen operations around the world to provide clean hydrogen to the growing industrial and mobility hydrogen markets across Western Canada;
World-scale air separation facility, designed by Air Products to support the ATR operation and to produce clean liquid oxygen and nitrogen for the merchant industrial gas market; and
Connection to Air Products’ existing Alberta Heartland Hydrogen Pipeline network for enhanced reliability and phased decarbonization of the entire network.
The hydrogen liquefaction facility will play a critical role in the developing hydrogen economy across Western Canada. Hydrogen will help to meet society’s need for sustainable transportation, especially for heavy-duty vehicles where hydrogen excels compared to other technologies.
Hydrogen is seen as having a substantial technological advantage over battery electric vehicles in heavy-duty applications due to those vehicles’ duty-cycles, especially in Canada’s extreme climate conditions. Hydrogen as a transportation fuel most closely mirrors the traditional consumer transportation fuel experience, and Air Products has been a pioneer in this area for decades. The company’s technologies are used in over 1.5 million refuelings annually across 20 countries, with Air Products having been involved in more than 250 projects.
Air Products, already Canada’s leading hydrogen supplier, is also considering further investments in both existing and new hydrogen facilities in Alberta and across Canada, helping customers improve their sustainability performance while bolstering the hydrogen economy and Canada’s energy transition.
The Edmonton project site was strategically selected to permit expansion of the energy complex, including replication of net-zero hydrogen production assets to meet growing demand. Air Products’ existing Heartland Hydrogen Pipeline network was designed for growth and has the capability to more than triple current volumes.
Air Products contracted the Pembina Institute to conduct an independent assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions of the proposed Alberta Blue Hydrogen Hub project. Commenting on the results, Simon Dyer, deputy executive director at the Pembina Institute, said:
The project will produce hydrogen using next generation auto-thermal reforming technology and best-in-class technology to minimize emissions from plant operations, including carbon capture with a 95% capture rate and on-site generation of electricity using a hydrogen-fueled power plant. This is a major improvement over traditional hydrogen production facilities in Canada today and sets a high standard for new hydrogen production from natural gas.
While upstream emissions associated with producing the natural gas used in the plant remain a significant source of greenhouse gases, on a full life cycle basis (Scopes 1, 2 and 3) the GHG intensity of the proposed project is substantially lower than average hydrogen production from natural gas with carbon capture. We are impressed by the innovative approach taken by Air Products and encourage them to consider ways to reduce the upstream emissions from their natural gas supply.
The Pembina Institute sees low- and zero-carbon hydrogen as being able to play an important role in decarbonizing Canada’s energy systems. While hydrogen has many potential applications, its greatest benefit is the reduction of carbon pollution from hard-to-decarbonize sectors and end uses, such as long-haul heavy-duty freight transportation and high-heat industrial processes. For Alberta’s hydrogen to be competitive on a global scale, it will have to close the gap between the life cycle emissions of hydrogen produced with natural gas and hydrogen produced with renewable electricity. Air Products has developed an innovative project design that is a major improvement relative to existing hydrogen production using natural gas.
Partnership with Baker Hughes. Air Products and Baker Hughes, a world leader in advanced hydrogen compression and gas turbine technology, announced a strategic global collaboration to develop next-generation hydrogen compression to lower the cost of production and accelerate the adoption of hydrogen as a zero-carbon fuel.
As part of the collaboration, Baker Hughes will provide Air Products with advanced hydrogen compression and gas turbine technology for global projects, including the NovaLT16 turbines for the hydrogen energy complex in Edmonton and advanced compression technology for the NEOM carbon-free hydrogen project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Air Products chose Baker Hughes for its leading-edge compression and gas turbine offerings and robust hydrogen experience. This advanced technology is another key step toward achieving economically viable blue and green hydrogen and net-zero targets.—Dr. Samir J. Serhan, chief operation officer, Air Products
Baker Hughes developed its first hydrogen compressor in 1962 and today has more than 2,000 units operating around the globe. Baker Hughes’ hydrogen portfolio also includes gas turbines that can burn methane gas and hydrogen blends from as little as 5% to as much as 100% hydrogen.