Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)

UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

A joint federal-provincial project aims to convert a parking garage on the University of B.C. campus into a renewal energy hub to power vehicles with hydrogen.

UBC president Santa Ono and B.C. Energy Minister Bruce Ralston announced the demonstration project Wednesday, to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen fuel for vehicles. The plan is to cover a parkade roof with solar panels, and use the intermittent energy to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, collecting the hydrogen to power fuel cell vehicles.

Hydrogen vehicles are in production today, but filling station infrastructure limits their use. The project will take advantage of UBC’s operation as a small, self-contained city to use hydrogen for both light and heavy vehicles with emission-free performance.

Ralston says the province will soon have a hydrogen strategy ready to release, including research into generating hydrogen to inject into the existing natural gas distribution network for use as fuel. “Green” hydrogen generated with B.C.’s hydroelectricity is part of the strategy.

B.C. is contributing carbon credits from its low-carbon fuel standard program that Ralston says are worth $5.6 million, among 22 projects to be funded by the province. The UBC renewable energy hub is also funded by Natural Resources Canada and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

“Hydrogen and clean electricity provide a clear path to sustainable, low-carbon economies for Canada and the world,” said Walter Merida, the UBC mechanical engineering professor in charge of its development.

VIDEO: Hydrogen vehicles enter B.C.’s low-emission market

RELATED: B.C. electric vehicle sales surge ahead in pandemic


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