Hydrogen is a versatile energy carrier that can be produced through various methods, such as electrolysis or steam methane reforming. It is used in fuel cells for clean electricity generation, as a feedstock for industrial processes, and as a potential clean fuel for transportation.

Abundant Element, Abundant Energy Potential, Abundant Energy Sector Jobs

Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements in Earth’s resources such as water and hydrocarbons and has enormous potential to contribute to efforts moving towards a net-zero emissions economy as a zero-emissions energy carrier. As the promising sector continues to grow, so will the demand for skilled workers in a rapidly expanding workforce.

The energy of the future

Hydrogen has significant energy carrier potential in Canada due to its versatility, ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and alignment with the country’s goals for responsible and sustainable energy development. Policymakers and energy sector leaders clearly recognize this resource’s potential with some global estimates pegging the global hydrogen sector at somewhere between 2.5 and 11 trillion dollars by 2050.

Steam methane reforming

Hydrogen can be produced by combining natural gas and high-temperature steam under high pressure with a catalyst, such as nickel, in a process called steam methane reforming. Steam methane reforming is a process that also produces CO2, which means a carbon capture and storage (CCS) component must be included. Pairing steam methane reforming with CCS will maintain a non-emitting fuel through the project’s full life cycle. The majority of hydrogen in the world is produced from natural gas through steam methane reforming.

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Canada’s untapped reserves

Canada has significant potential as a hydrogen producer given our large natural gas reserves.

Hydrogen in the world

The demand for hydrogen will continue to grow as it’s increasingly utilized as a viable energy source. Hydrogen fuel cells that only emit steam will innovate transportation options, both personally and in large-scale industries. Other industrial applications, especially in sectors with high-temperature processes like steel and cement will incorporate hydrogen energy into their production.

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Driving clean and powering cells, emitting only steam

Hydrogen can be burned in a combustion engine similar to gasoline or diesel or used in fuel cells where it reacts with oxygen to produce electricity. In both cases, the only emission is steam.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN). 2020. Hydrogen Strategy for Canada: Seizing the Opportunities for Hydrogen

Energy carrier

Hydrogen is also an excellent energy carrier, supporting the overall integration of renewable energy like solar, hydro, and geothermal, by storing excess energy produced until it can be converted back into electricity for end users. In addition to being its own energy source through fuel cells and in industry, hydrogen can also improve the long-term viability of other renewable energy sources.

Working in hydrogen

With Canada’s 2050 net-zero goal, the broader energy industry is putting a lot of resources and attention into realizing the potential for hydrogen. It’s a great place for new, experienced, and transitioning workers to establish themselves in the evolution of energy in Canada.

As the hydrogen energy sector grows, career opportunities will grow with it.  In Alberta alone, a $50 million Hydrogen Centre of Excellence was announced, and over $14 billion worth of hydrogen projects have been announced since 2020. Job seekers preparing for careers in this sector should consider training and education in fields such as engineering, chemistry, materials science, environmental science, policy studies, and business management.