West Kelowna in line to beat out Penticton for first hydrogen reactor in the Thompson-Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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West Kelowna in line to beat out Penticton for first hydrogen reactor in the Thompson-Okanagan

Image Credit: Submitted/GH Power

Plans were announced last summer to put a hydrogen manufacturing plant in Penticton.

The same company now has a location in West Kelowna that could be up and running first.

The company is also looking into building plants in Summerland and Nelson and expect to be looking at Kamloops some time in the future.

The Penticton site is on contaminated ground so it will take a bit of time to clean up.

“West Kelowna will be quicker to get going because there is no remediation necessary and the land is already zoned industrial,” Steve Neil, vice-president of business development and land acquisition for GP Power, told iNFOnews.ca today, April 1.

The site is at the intersection of Shannon Lake and Bartley roads.

Neil will make a presentation to West Kelowna city council on Tuesday outlining the project.

The company just got its first plant up and running in Hamilton, ON a few days ago and expects this to be the start of a booming industry.

“This is going to explode with interest in next the six to 12 months because the company is going public,” Neil said. “The interest is growing exponentially.”

The plan for all the plants is to use recycled aluminum from Canada and the U.S., put it in reactors to create a chemical reaction without using other power sources. That will create heat, hydrogen and alumina (aluminum oxide).

That qualifies it as “green hydrogen” as opposed to “blue hydrogen” that is made from fossil fuels that capture some of the carbon for storage. There is also a “grey hydrogen” that is not considered low carbon because it doesn’t capture and store the carbon by-product.

The hydrogen could be blended into FortisBC’s natural gas pipeline or exported to other natural gas suppliers in Canada or the U.S. Discussions are currently underway with FortisBC, Neil said.

It is used to fuel vehicles, including buses, trucks and even planes. GH Power is suggesting that West Kelowna, over time, convert its vehicles over to hydrogen.

A hydrogen fueling station was proposed for Kelowna in 2020 but has yet to be built.

READ MORE: First step to welcoming hydrogen vehicles on the horizon for Kelowna

In theory, cars could fuel up at the West Kelowna plant, Neil said.

The plant will generate up to 5 megawatts of electricity. One megawatt can power 900 four-person households for a year, Neil said.

That electricity could be sold to B.C. Hydro (discussions are ongoing) but it could also be used by the City of West Kelowna. The plant could be structured to act as an emergency back-up electrical source for the city.

West Kelowna has been discussing a second power line into the city with B.C. Hydro for more than a decade out of fear the existing line could be damaged in a wildfire or other natural disaster.

READ MORE: B.C. Hydro is looking to link with FortisBC to back up West Kelowna’s power grid

The other by-product, alumina, has a “broad range of industrial applications required for the new generation of green vehicles, renewable energy generation, and semiconductor demand,” GH Power’s website says.

The West Kelowna plant is expected to create 15 to 17 skilled jobs.

Plants in Penticton, Summerland and Nelson could be easier to establish, in some ways, since those cities have their own electrical utilities.

The presentation to the Penticton council last summer was made by Frontenac Energy, which has “transitioned” into GH Power.

Neil expects construction to start in West Kelowna in less than a year with a 12-18 month construction period.

While these plants are relatively small, the technology can be expanded to plants that produce 50 megawatt hours or more, he said.

The Government of B.C. announced earlier this week that it has created a hydrogen office to promote the use of hydrogen.

READ MORE: New B.C. hydrogen office to help investment and emissions reduction: Horgan

For more on the B.C. Hydrogen Strategy, go here.

Go here for GH Power’s website.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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