Hydro-Québec is giving up its hydrogen plant

Hydro-Québec is backing out and will not build what it announced with great fanfare as the world’s largest green hydrogen plant at Varennes.

Posted at 7:00 am

Helen Barill

Helen Barill
The press

That 200 million investment, to be used to supply hydrogen to the biofuel plant being built by Enerkem and nearby partners, is no longer among the state-owned company’s priorities, said a spokeswoman, Caroline Desrosiers.

“In recent months, the project has been redesigned to combine production of hydrogen and biofuel,” she said. We are no longer involved in the project as biofuel is not a priority for Hydro-Québec. »

The two plants, the one for biofuel and the one for hydrogen, should be commissioned simultaneously in 2023, we learned when the project was announced in 2020. [d’hydrogène] will be sold to Enerkem at a mutually attractive price and will bring revenue to Hydro-Québec,” Hydro-Québec specified at the time.

It is the Government of Quebec, through Investissement Québec, that will save the project. Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon on Wednesday announced the injection of 284.45 million into the project known as Recyclage Carbone Varennes (RCV).

This additional investment brings the sums invested by Quebec in this project to 365.45 million, which is estimated at nearly $1 billion. Investissement Québec is already a shareholder of Enerkem.

Enerkem’s partners in RCV, namely Shell, Suncor and Proman, a Swiss-based manufacturer of gas derivatives, are the other investors. It was impossible to know everyone’s contribution. These three companies “will be responsible for supporting the construction in Varennes of an electrolyser with a capacity of 88 MW for the production of green hydrogen and a plant for the production of clean fuels,” the minister said in a press release.

For its part, Hydro-Quebec ensures that the production of hydrogen continues to interest them. “We are open to other projects and ready to discuss them,” assures the spokesman, adding that the company currently has no other hydrogen project.

A long journey

Recyclage Carbone Varennes is expected to be the first commercial application in Quebec of the technology that Enerkem has been developing since 2014. The future plant aims to convert non-recyclable waste into syngas and methanol. In a further phase, methanol could become ethanol and be mixed with gasoline to power cars.

Enerkem expects to be able to treat 200,000 tonnes of residues annually and produce 135 million liters of methanol, an alcohol commonly used as a solvent.

The waste comes from building material and sawmill waste recycling plants, which are transported to Varennes by rail and truck.

The Varennes project was first announced in 2008.

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