February 12, 2024
Article submitted to the Energy Council of Canada, Canada’s Energy Story issue by AMTA’s Erin Horb, Technology Advisor and Hydrogen Specialist
CANADA’S COMMITMENT TO REDUCE EMISSIONS
The transportation sector contributes approximately one quarter of Canada’s total GHG emissions each year¹ and is a key focus for emissions abatement. According to the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, the government estimates that transportation sector emissions need to be reduced to 11% below 2005 levels by 2030.² The path to achieve this relies in part on a significant effort by private heavy-duty commercial transportation fleets to reduce emissions from diesel trucks. Currently, Canada is aiming to have 35% of total new sales of medium and heavy-duty (MHD) vehicles be zero-emission by 2030.³ Further, Canada will develop a new MHD vehicle sales regulation, requiring that 100% of new vehicle sales are zero-emission by 2040 for a subset of vehicle types based on feasibility, with interim 2030 regulated sales requirements that would vary for different vehicle categories based on feasibility.⁴
AMTA’S ROLE IN THE DECARBONIZATION SPACE: LEADING THROUGH COLLABORATION
The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) is a not-for-profit, advocacy and safety training association that functions as The Voice, The Standard and The Resource for commercial transportation in Alberta. For more than 86 years, our work has encompassed a broad range of environmental, social, economic, safety and compliance matters that impact provincial highways. AMTA’s Industry Advancement team was developed to examine emerging vehicle trends that increase road safety, extend vehicle efficiencies, and advance environmental benefits. Through interactions with zero emission and hydrogen technologies, we are extending valuable lessons learned to Alberta’s commercial transportation sector on fleet decarbonization.
AMTA has taken a strong project leadership role and established a unique collaboration ecosystem bringing together diverse stakeholders. With the support of many partners and contributors, we are currently leading the following hydrogen projects in Alberta that support hydrogen production, storage, and dispensing as well as the operation of zero and reduced emission vehicles through hands-on real-world trials and demonstrations:
- Alberta Zero Emission Truck Electrification Collaboration (AZETEC)
- Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstration (EVID)
- Hydrogen Vehicle Demonstrations
- Zero Emissions Vehicle Awareness Initiative (ZEVAI)
The overarching goal common to each project is to increase awareness around available hydrogen vehicle options, hydrogen fueling and to simplify the adoption process for industry. AMTA’s interest in this work is ultimately to support our members in heavy-duty transportation by investigating opportunities to reduce or eliminate tailpipe emissions, screening for real-world feasibility, and facilitating safe hands-on trials of promising new technology. ATMA-led research projects will also provide operational data to companies that will enable them to make informed decisions based on trials utilizing available technologies.
ALBERTA ZERO-EMISSIONS TRUCK ELECTRIFICATION COLLABORATION
The Alberta Zero Emission Truck Electrification Collaboration (AZETEC) project began in 2019 with an industry-led initiative to design and operate hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) technology in the heavy-duty transportation sector in Canada. Project deliverables included (1) designing and operating Alberta’s first fuel cell grade hydrogen production facility for commercial trucks and (2) the design and operation of two built-in-Canada Class 8 hydrogen-powered zero emission commercial trucks.
This project was initiated as hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks that were emerging in the United States were designed for California weather and focused on short haul and drayage operations. A Class 8 hydrogen truck designed for long-haul operations, that could accommodate Canadian weights and operate in Canada’s extreme winter conditions, was needed:
- US gross vehicle weight (GVW) is 82,000 lbs while Canada’s GVW is 140,000 lbs
- Canadian temperatures vary from +35° Celsius to -40° Celsius
- Canadian long range hauling distances are often ≥ 700 km
To date, fuel cell grade hydrogen is being produced at the Suncor facility near Edmonton and both Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell trucks have completed track testing. Canadian vehicle certification is being attained. Once certified, both vehicles will be placed into operational service. One truck will be operated by Bison Transport and the other with Trimac Transportation. Key partnerships and funding for this project is provided by Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), Suncor, Ballard Power Systems, Dana, Almon, Enedym, Freightliner, Bison, Trimac, Hydrogen Technology and Energy Corporation (HTEC), Transition Accelerator, and Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research (CESAR).
Beyond designing and building the AZETEC trucks and establishing a hydrogen fuel supply, hydrogen storage and dispensing were also required. This is where the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstration (EVID) project, funded by Natural Resources Canada, plays a major role.
Suncor hydrogen is produced at the Edmonton refinery, then transferred a short distance to a separate terminal site for hydrogen fueling. A Power Cube Trailer, designed by HTEC, is filled with 516 kg of fuel cell grade hydrogen (99.999% purity) at 450 bar and is transported from the refinery to the terminal. At the terminal site, hydrogen from the trailer flows through a gas transfer module that dispenses hydrogen by cascade filling into the vehicles. Having a process for hydrogen fueling presented an opportunity to support several additional hydrogen vehicles in Alberta that currently include:
- Two Alberta Zero-Emissions Hydrogen Transit buses
- Three Hydra hydrogen-diesel dual fuel trucks
- One Hyzon fuel cell electric truck
- Three Nikola fuel cell electric trucks
- Two AZETEC fuel cell electric trucks
- University of Alberta and Cummins hydrogen combustion engine research
Plans are underway to develop additional hydrogen fueling stations that will enable hydrogen trucks to complete trips between Calgary and Edmonton, opening the door for more hydrogen vehicles to operate in Southern Alberta. Additional hydrogen fueling stations are an important next step towards extending Edmonton’s hydrogen hub into the first regional hydrogen corridor in Alberta hauling cargo between Calgary and Edmonton.
Establishing this hydrogen corridor lays the groundwork for building a sustainable ecosystem with hydrogen supply supporting vehicle demand. The hub/corridor model is being proven as feasible and scalable in Alberta and to other regions within Canada.
AMTA HYDROGEN VEHICLE DEMONSTRATIONS AND AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS
With hydrogen fueling occurring in the Edmonton region, AMTA seized the opportunity to advance stakeholder awareness and education on zero emission vehicles through the PrairiesCan Hydrogen Vehicle Demonstrations and Natural Resources Canada’s Zero-Emission Vehicle Awareness Initiative (ZEVAI).
AMTA members expressed a high level of interest in gaining hands-on experience with pioneering hydrogen technology which led to the development of the Hydrogen Vehicle Demonstration program. To participate in the Hydrogen Vehicle Demonstrations, operators are required to complete in-cab and online training prior to driving the hydrogen vehicles within their normal business operations. This program is rolled out as short-term (2-week) lease contracts with interested carriers. Over the course of the vehicle demonstrations, AMTA interacts with the fleet to collect driver experience and vehicle performance data to provide insight into the pros and cons of the vehicles from the fleet and driver’s perspectives. To date, AMTA has engaged with over 60 carrier companies, and trials have been conducted by more than 30 carriers in the Edmonton region.
AMTA’s Hydrogen Vehicle Demonstrations have showcased two types of hydrogen trucks: FCEVs provided by Hyzon and Nikola and hydrogen-diesel dual fuel vehicles provided by Hydra. Hydrogen FCEVs are powered only by hydrogen and have zero tailpipe emissions other than water vapor. The hydrogen-diesel dual fuel vehicles are retrofits added to existing diesel internal combustion engines. The retrofit design allows hydrogen and diesel to be co-combusted in the engine, and results in reduced GHG emissions. These retrofits offer a relatively low upfront cost to install, providing a significant benefit for existing assets that don’t depreciate quickly (e.g., diesel transit buses with an expected service lifetime of ~25 years). The key difference is that hydrogen-diesel dual fuel retrofits reduce emissions while FCEVs achieve zero emissions mobility.
Under the ZEVAI program, several educational programs were developed to support the safe operation of hydrogen vehicles on Canada’s roadways. An online course was created to review hydrogen properties, provide basic information on what is a fuel cell electric vehicle and to understand how to safely operate this emerging technology.⁵ In-person courses were developed on topics including driver training, mechanic training, tow truck operator training, and first responder awareness.
Overall, based on the breadth of engagement and interest in hydrogen vehicles, we found that there were many opportunities for outreach and education directly through vehicle demonstrations and training as well as other in-person events such as industry sessions, convention displays, webinars, regional meetings and through our website.⁶ AMTA has been invited to deliver numerous speaking engagements to extend awareness of the successes and lessons learned through interactions with hydrogen technologies. Additionally, we developed a media strategy and completed several media sessions related to the vehicle demonstrations and awareness of hydrogen vehicles in Canada.
In total, through the ZEVAI programs, AMTA was able to reach thousands of people:
- 600 people drove in a hydrogen FCEV or hydrogen diesel dual fuel vehicle;
- 170 people received one-on-one driver training (and operated a hydrogen FCEV or hydrogen-diesel dual fuel vehicle); and
- 20,000 people viewed and touched the FCEV or hydrogen-diesel dual fuel vehicles that were exhibited at various conventions and summits.
AMTA was also able to promote awareness of hydrogen for educators by coordinating with heavy mechanic training leads at Alberta polytechnic schools, NAIT and SAIT, to ensure awareness of new hydrogen vehicle technology and identify training gaps. We discussed changes that will be required for short-term micro credentials and long-term curriculum development.
The reach of the hydrogen vehicle demonstrations and ZEVAI project extended far beyond the vehicle operators and included new partnerships and opportunities to meet with vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), mechanics, commercial transportation fleet managers, first responders, hydrogen specialists, industry experts, course developers, academics, Indigenous peoples, municipal and provincial governments and students. Through this work, a “blueprint” for introducing hydrogen vehicles and establishing new fueling infrastructure has been created. This process can be replicated in other regions and ATMA is in a position to share our experience, including successes and lessons learned with others looking to introduce hydrogen vehicles in different areas of Canada.
FURTHER WORK AND FUTURE EFFORTS
ATMA is eager to enable and influence the development of Canada’s net-zero mobility initiatives. We are excited to participate in the development of Alberta’s broader hydrogen value chain within the transportation sector. AMTA will continue to meet with hydrogen stakeholders and thought leaders to explore options to expand hydrogen use in commercial transportation. The road to net-zero in heavy- duty transportation is open, and the future looks bright.
AMTA would like to acknowledge the funders that have allowed us to conduct this work. Grants from Emissions Reduction Alberta, PrairiesCan, and Natural Resources Canada as well as the direct project funding and in-kind contributions from multiple partners have provided the opportunity for this important hydrogen work. Please see Transforming Transportation⁷ for a full listing of project partners and progress updates.
¹ Government of Canada. 2023. National Inventory Report 1990-2021: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada. (publications.gc.ca)
² Government of Canada. 2022. 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Transportation. (canada.ca)
⁵ Introduction to Hydrogen and Hydrogen Applications in Heavy-Duty Trucking
⁶ Transforming Transportation.ca
⁷ Transforming Transportation.ca
Article submitted to the Energy Council of Canada, Canada’s Energy Story issue by AMTA’s Erin Horb, Technology Advisor and Hydrogen Specialist. Read the full issue here.
- The Power Cube Trailer comprised of several cylinders to transport fuel cell grade hydrogen from the refinery to the terminal site for vehicle fueling.
- Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell electric truck, custom built for the AZETEC project.
- Hyzon fuel cell electric truck used as part of the AMTA hydrogen vehicle demonstrations from December 2022 to August 2023.