“Green” Hydrogen Power: Utilizing Water to Reach Net-Zero

  • June 16, 2023
  • Aaron Atcheson, partner, and Kyle Bertsch, associate, Miller Thomson LLP

This article was previously published in the May/June 2023 issue of Water Canada.

In an effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, Canada has focused its attention towards the emerging industry of “green” hydrogen power as a source of renewable energy. The production of hydrogen is completed through electrolysis, whereby electrical energy is applied to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. This process of electrolysis is considered “green” when renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, are used to generate the required electricity.

Having one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world, Canada has an opportunity to utilize green hydrogen power on an industrial scale. However, regulatory policies and safeguards should be observed and considered in conjunction with the growing use of hydrogen. In Ontario, certain regulatory safeguards are found under the Ontario Water Resources Act and Ontario Regulation 387/04. For example, Ontario requires individuals to obtain a permit if 50,000 litres or more of water per day is captured from the environment, unless certain exemptions are met. In addition to the regulatory framework, attempting to utilize desalination processes to convert saltwater into freshwater or converting reused wastewater into electrolysis feedstock should be considered when attempting to industrialize hydrogen power. Overall, maintaining legal safeguards is critical in order to ensure the conservation, protection and wise use and management of the waters of each province.