The University of British Columbia (UBC) will be converting a campus block into an energy-smart district, according to a press release Wednesday. They say they will be testing how hydrogen can be used in a low-carbon future, including the province’s first hydrogen refuelling station.
The project will cost $23 million according to the university. The province is supporting the project through the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, which announced $5.6 million in low-carbon fuel credits to the project.
The Renewable Energy Hub will be built on the corner of Wesbrook Mall and Thunderbird Boulevard, and will include a solar panel system to charge electric vehicles, said the press release.
The solar energy will then be sent to an electrolyzer that produces “green” hydrogen by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. UBC says this process doesn’t produce any greenhouse emissions.
The hydrogen will be sent to a refuelling station to charge light and heavy-duty fuel cell vehicles.
It will be designed to be like a “living laboratory,” according to the university. They plan on it exploring links between energy, transport and urban design.
“Hydrogen and clean electricity provide a clear path to sustainable, low-carbon economies for Canada and the world,” said Walter Merida, a professor of mechanical engineering in the press release. “When combined with digital technologies, they can enable economic growth as transportation, telecommunications and civil infrastructure become smart and interconnected.”
The project will also include a solar array system to simulate power generation in urban environments, reversible EV charging – where energy could potentially be exchanged between vehicles on the power grid, and a smart energy storage system by combining the battery capacity of electric vehicles.
UBC says the energy hub will help with B.C.’s Zero-Emission Vehicles Act and the transition, requiring all new light-duty cars and trucks sold in B.C. to be zero-emission by 2040.
“In order to realize our CleanBC climate goals, we must invest in innovative energy solutions,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and low Carbon Innovation in the press release. “B.C. is well-positioned to become a world leader in clean energy, and this project demonstrates the excellent potential right here in the Lower Mainland.”
Currently, electric charging stations are already in place and will be functioning this summer. The hydrogen refuelling centre is supposed to open in March next year.
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