April 12, 2004

Hydrogen Highway to showcase Canada's leadership in fuel cell technology

The world's first Hydrogen Highway(tm) will be built between Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, Prime Minister Paul Martin told the Globe 2004 trade fair and conference on environmental technology and management.

The Hydrogen Highway is part of a long-range plan to assist Canada in moving toward greater use of hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles and other power generation applications. The initiative will demonstrate a wide variety of fuel cell products for transportation, stationary, portable and micro-power applications that can utilize the hydrogen fuelling infrastructure.

To fulfill this objective, the Hydrogen Highway will draw on the talents and resources of a number of founding partners, including Ballard Power Systems, BC Hydro, Fuel Cells Canada, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the National Research Council Canada and QuestAir. Canadian companies will play a major role in the growing marketplace for hydrogen technologies, which by 2011 is estimated to be worth $46 billion worldwide.

"The Hydrogen Highway will take us from the fossil fuel economy we live in now to the new hydrogen economy," Martin stated. "Canada's going to show the world that hydrogen fuel cell transportation is more than a great idea - it's practical, efficient and within reach. Hydrogen technology is part of our commitment to responding to climate change and creating new economic opportunities."

"The Hydrogen Highway brings the leading Canadian and international stakeholders together to accelerate the commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technology," said Ron Britton, president of Fuel Cells Canada. "Demonstrations of fuel cells for portable and stationary power generation through to fuel cell-powered vehicles will further substantiate the value and future reality of the technology to British Columbians and the world."

The Hydrogen Highway is expected to be up and running by the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which will take place in Vancouver and Whistler. As a showcase for sustainable development, the Hydrogen Highway will allow visitors to travel in fuel cell-powered vehicles between the Vancouver Airport and Whistler during the games.

The initiative will be managed by a steering committee whose chair, Firoz Rasul, brings vast experience as chair of the board of Ballard Power Systems. Fuel Cells Canada, a non-profit and member-driven national industry association, will undertake to solicit and encourage further widespread industry participation in the Hydrogen Highway.

"Today, there is a global race toward commercialization of fuel cells and hydrogen in the automotive and power-generation industries," Rasul said, adding that "long-term leadership will be in the hands of those who move the quickest. The prize is immense economically, socially in terms of quality of life, politically in terms of energy independence, and environmentally with an improved world in which we live. The Hydrogen Highway will confirm Canada's leadership by accelerating the introduction of hydrogen and fuel cell products."

Coinciding with the introduction of the Hydrogen Highway was an announcement of three new projects designed to advance the development of fuel cell vehicles: the Vancouver Fuel Cell Vehicle project; the Hydrogen High-Pressure Valve Development project; and the Hydrogen-Powered Delivery Van project. The three projects will receive $5 million from the Canadian Transportation Fuel Cell Alliance (CTFCA), NRCan's $33-million initiative formed to advance the use of fuel cell vehicles in Canada.

Canada's Hydrogen Highway is being financially supported by industry and government. The federal government is funding three new projects which share $485,000 in federal funding through CTFCA. SacrÈ-Davey Engineering will develop a fuelling station, Powertech Labs will supply a new hydrogen generator, and Fueling Technologies, an Ontario firm, has contributed a 10,000-psi (700-bar) hydrogen dispenser which will increase the energy available to fuel cells, allowing fuel cell vehicles to operate over a greater range. The CTFCA will also provide $632,000 for management activities, for a total of $1.1 million.

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