Company hoping to produce hydrogen in Penticton to power city | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Company hoping to produce hydrogen in Penticton to power city

Diagram of fuel cell grade hydrogen production and electricity generation
Image Credit: Frontenac Energy
August 23, 2021 - 7:30 AM

In the future, hydrogen may be used to fuel cars and heat homes – and it will be produced in Penticton if plans for a new power plant come to fruition.

Frontenac Energy made its pitch to Penticton council earlier this week. The team hopes to build a hydrogen power plant that would generate green energy by separating hydrogen out of water molecules.

“All that comes out the back end is clean water and a benign aluminum oxide product which can be resold to primary smelters,” CEO David White told council. “And the goal is to have it re-smelted into primary aluminum once again.”

Revenues would come from five sources. The hydrogen can be sold as fuel, it can be sold to Fortis (which would mix the fuel into its natural gas lines), electricity produced can be sold to the City of Penticton, the plant will be eligible for carbon credits (which would be shared with the city), and one of its only byproducts – aluminum oxide – can be resold.

White believes that a green, alternative energy source will have benefits for decades to come. He said that while carbon taxes rise and cost more for traditional sources of energy, carbon credits will become more lucrative for green energy generators. Global energy consumption is expected to double by 2050, he said, and in the meantime governments will be pursuing carbon reduction targets.

“It wraps around nicely with the way the world is moving with carbon reduction,” White said.

READ MORE: B.C. first province to introduce hydrogen strategy

Most people have a good understanding that the exhaust from burned hydrogen is just water vapour.

“No one wants a nuclear energy or waste energy power plant in their backyard.”

The company is based in Toronto, but when asked why they chose Penticton of all places for their project, White said several of the team members already live in the Okanagan, and that others are planning on moving.

Frontenac is also attracted to Penticton because it owns its own electrical utility, so it can purchase its own energy.

“Only a handful of communities in B.C. have that ability,” Steve Neil, vice president of business development said. 

READ MORE: Penticton city council looks at potential for green power project

Mayor John Vassilaki asked where the aluminum will come from.

White said there will likely be enough locally, but it can be sourced out from other parts of B.C. if they run short.

“We don’t need primary expensive stuff so we can take the garbage and the scrap that nobody really has any industrial use for and use it in our process.”

The power plant would require some energy to fire up and then would be able to power itself from then on, and run 24 hours a day. In the beginning it will be able to supply the City with one megawatt of electricity, which is enough for about 1,000 people or 250 homes. If all goes well the plant will later scale up to two and then three megawatts.

The power plant would take approximately 18 months to build and would create 15 to 20 permanent jobs. The next steps for the company are to find a location, get council’s approval, and then purchase the land.

How bulk hydrogen production works
How bulk hydrogen production works
Image Credit: Frontenac Energy

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