UBC builds province’s first hydrogen station to serve light- and heavy-duty vehicles

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

The University of British Columbia (UBC) has launched a $23-million Smart Hydrogen Energy District (SHED) at its campus. Equipped with a hydrogen fueling station, the school says the facility is expected to pave the way for breakthroughs in critical energy research.

SHED will produce hydrogen using solar and hydro power to operate a water electrolyser, making the process completely green and renewable. It is one of the first initiatives in Canada to combine hydro, solar and hydrogen energy at a single site, connecting these renewable energy sources to a unified micro-grid. SHED will be the province’s first hydrogen station to serve light- and heavy-duty vehicles.

B.C.’s minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation, Josie Osborne, attended the opening at UBC’s Vancouver campus.

“The UBC Smart Hydrogen Energy District (SHED) is yet another leap forward in building a clean economy and creating new opportunities for British Columbians,” said Osborne. “By integrating energy, transportation and design, SHED not only supports our CleanBC goals but it also positions British Columbia as a world leader in the hydrogen economy. Projects like this demonstrate our commitment to producing clean energy and ensuring a prosperous future for generations to come.”

“We are grateful to the provincial and federal governments, private sector partners and others for their critical investment in this research facility, which further strengthens UBC’s position as a global leader in climate solutions and energy systems innovation,” said UBC president and vice-chancellor Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon. “This new space gives UBC scholars significant new research and learning opportunities that will help shape our society and economy in the years ahead.”

“Hydrogen can play a critical role in Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Dr. Walter Mérida, SHED research lead and professor of mechanical engineering in the faculty of applied science. “With SHED, we demonstrate hydrogen as a bridge between renewable electricity and sustainable energy services. As technologies become smart and interconnected, we can stop thinking of gas, electrical and digital networks as separate entities.”

SHED combines various technologies within a city block, serving as a model for compact urban planning. A rooftop solar array powers both the hydrogen fueling station and nearby electric vehicle charging stations. Two-way charging will enable parked EVs to both draw power from the grid and give excess stored electricity back to the grid during peak hours when there is extra energy demand.

The global hydrogen market is expected to grow significantly in the coming decades, and Canada will need sustained research to maintain and expand its leadership in hydrogen technologies, said Mérida.

“The first UBC spinoff company from this work has launched. With interest in hydrogen booming across the country, we hope SHED attracts other clean-energy innovators. Our goal is to accelerate climate solutions through insights from this project and seek industry and private sector partners for collaboration.”

SHED received generous funding from the following partners:

  • Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation – $8.3 million in low-carbon fuel standard credits
  • Government of Canada – $5.0 million
  • Canada Foundation for Innovation – $4.6 million
  • British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund – $4.6 million
  • $800,000 from industry partners, including HTEC