Moncton’s future could include a green hydrogen fuel hub

Atlantic Canada’s trucking hub is envisioning a carbon-neutral future in which it powers trucks with hydrogen produced by solar panels. The effort has the potential to play an important role in reducing transportation emissions in Moncton, NB, and supporting the heavy-duty trucking industry’s transition to zero-emissions fuels.

The move is outlined in the City of Moncton’s recently adopted Community Energy and Emissions Plan which lays out a strategy for the community to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan recommends the City support the development of a Green Hydrogen Freight Fuelling Facility powered by the sun.

As the lead analyst on the project, I’m excited about how well Moncton is positioned to catalyze and benefit from this change in the trucking industry.

In 2016, diesel use in heavy-duty trucks in Moncton produced 35,100 tonnes (or 11%) of the community’s total greenhouse gas emissions. If these vehicles are not decarbonized, that number is forecast to grow to 50,000 tonnes annually by 2050.

Moncton can collaborate with the trucking industry to take advantage of over 2,000 hours of sunshine every year by installing local ground-mount solar systems. These would produce electricity which would be run through water electrolysis to produce emissions-free, or “green”, hydrogen. Alongside this energy infrastructure, the trucking industry would need to convert its fleets to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Installing 65 MW of ground-mount solar by 2030 would allow the facility to produce enough hydrogen to replace 50% of the diesel used annually by medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in Moncton. Continuing to increase ground-mount solar to 184 MW could generate 100% of the hydrogen required to replace the amount of diesel that will be required for medium- and heavy- duty transportation in 2050 . Between 2026 and 2050, the initiative would create over 60 full-time jobs, generate over $340 million in revenue, and save trucking companies over $76 million in combined fuel, carbon tax, and operations and maintenance costs. The facility could also potentially sell fuel for use in the hydrogen-powered freight train engines CN is developing.

By 2050, the facility’s contribution of hydrogen fuel would have eliminated 823,000 tonnes of emissions, and return almost $2 in savings and revenue for every dollar invested. In the process, it would leverage Moncton’s existing labour force to create a green hydrogen fuel hub from which other communities could learn.

Moncton is rising to meet the challenge of net zero and inspiring other communities to do the same!

Maurya Braun is a Senior Consultant at SSG. She has led the development of climate action plans for municipalities across Canada.

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