Atura Power selects Niagara Falls for first large-scale hydrogen production facility

Atura Power selects Niagara Falls for first large-scale hydrogen production facility

Atura Power has selected Niagara Falls as its first Ontario site for large-scale hydrogen production.

The Niagara Hydrogen Centre, which will use a 20-megawatt electrolyzer to produce green hydrogen, is going forward based on several Ontario location feasibility studies that evaluated technical and economic viability of green-hydrogen production.

Green hydrogen is produced with electrolyzers using water and electricity as inputs. Electrolysis is the process of breaking water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen molecules using electricity.

Hydrogen is a versatile fuel that can be used for vehicles, industrial processes, and heating homes and businesses while emitting little-to-no greenhouse gases or other pollution.

Thursday’s announcement was part of the province’s release of its hydrogen strategy. Energy Minister Todd Smith and Environment, Conservation and Parks Minister David Piccini announced the strategy at Niagara Parks Power Station in Niagara Falls.

Atura Power, a subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation, said it’s completing preliminary steps for the facility to support a final investment decision by summer. Pending an award of federal funding, the facility could be commissioned as soon as early 2024.

Atura said it’s evaluating additional sites in Ontario for green and low-carbon hydrogen production, including Halton Hills, Windsor, Lambton-Sarnia and Nanticoke.

“Ontario is building a hydrogen economy, and Atura Power is ready to play a key role in helping establish a supply of this low-carbon fuel,” said Atura Power president Chris Fralick.

“Supply of hydrogen produced by Atura Power will enable heavy-emitting industries and transport to plan their transition to lower-carbon fuels. We look forward to working with our partners and industry leaders to help advance this clean technology, bringing the Niagara region to the forefront of the clean-energy and hydrogen economy.”

He said Niagara could be one of Canada’s “largest green-energy hubs,” adding hydrogen will be “an important tool in the fight against climate change.”

“Large-scale hydro-electric power generation in Ontario was born here 100 years ago and it is only fitting that we would be looking here again as the place to usher in large-scale hydrogen production for a new clean-energy source in the 21st century.”

Officials said the project will have a positive direct and indirect economic impact in Niagara, with jobs created during construction and operation, and further employment potential in the supply chain.

Smith said the government is “leveraging” the province’s “world-class talent and clean-energy advantage” to position Ontario as a “world leader” in hydrogen.

“When energy is clean, reliable and affordable, our whole province benefits,” he said.

“I look forward to working with all our partners to build critical infrastructure for the industries of the future including new hydrogen-production projects that will create good-paying jobs, grow our economy, and reduce emissions.”

Smith said the Niagara facility “could support net-emission reductions equivalent to taking more than 4,000 cars off the road and expand the province’s hydrogen-production capacity eight-fold.”

The provincial government is supporting the project by providing an exemption from the Gross Revenue Charge (taxes and charges owed) from 2024 to 2033 for electricity generated at Sir Adam Beck Generating Station used specifically for hydrogen production under prescribed conditions.

Piccini said low-carbon hydrogen has “tremendous potential to help us meet our long-term economic and environmental goals.”

“Supporting innovation and investment in clean technologies will help secure a cleaner, more prosperous Ontario now and for generations to come.”

Niagara Region Chair Jim Bradley said, “Projects of this kind are a clear demonstration that, in fact, when you are protecting the environment, you can also generate a lot of economic activity and development.”

In an emailed statement, Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates said the project is “an important step forward” as the province moves towards cleaner energy production.

“Protecting our environment and tackling climate change is essential for our future. I’d like to thank all those involved at Atura and OPG in taking this first step in the right direction.”

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