The University of British Columbia (UBC) launched the $23-million Smart Hydrogen Energy District (SHED). Equipped with a hydrogen fueling station, this facility is expected to pave the way for breakthroughs in critical energy research.

SHED will produce hydrogen using solar and hydro power to operate a water electrolyser, making the process completely green and renewable. It is one of the first initiatives in Canada to combine hydro, solar and hydrogen energy at a single site, connecting these renewable energy sources to a unified micro-grid. SHED will be the province’s first hydrogen station to serve light- and heavy-duty vehicles.

“The UBC Smart Hydrogen Energy District (SHED) is yet another leap forward in building a clean economy and creating new opportunities for British Columbians,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “By integrating energy, transportation, and design, SHED not only supports our CleanBC goals but it also positions British Columbia as a world leader in the hydrogen economy. Projects like this demonstrate our commitment to producing clean energy and ensuring a prosperous future for generations to come.”

(L to R): UBC President Benoit-Antoine Bacon; Minister Josie Osborne; and UBC professor Walter Merida. (UBC Applied Science/Paul Joseph)

“We are grateful to the provincial and federal governments, private sector partners and others for their critical investment in this research facility, which further strengthens UBC’s position as a global leader in climate solutions and energy systems innovation,” said UBC president and vice chancellor Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon. “This new space gives UBC scholars significant new research and learning opportunities that will help shape our society and economy in the years ahead.”

“Hydrogen can play a critical role in Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Dr. Walter Mérida, SHED research lead and professor of mechanical engineering in the faculty of applied science.

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“With SHED, we demonstrate hydrogen as a bridge between renewable electricity and sustainable energy services. As technologies become smart and interconnected, we can stop thinking of gas, electrical and digital networks as separate entities.”

SHED combines various technologies within a city block, serving as a model for compact urban planning. A rooftop solar array powers both the hydrogen fueling station and nearby electric vehicle charging stations. Two-way charging will enable parked EVs to both draw power from the grid and give excess stored electricity back to the grid during peak hours when there is extra energy demand.

A secure 5G network connects SHED’s different systems, enabling researchers to create digital simulations for energy, transportation and urban planning research.

SHED received generous funding from the following partners:

  • Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation – $8.3 million in low-carbon fuel standard credits
  • Government of Canada – $5.0 million
  • Canada Foundation for Innovation – $4.6 million
  • British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund – $4.6 million
  • $800,000 from industry partners, including HTEC

“UBC’s tradition of nurturing innovators continues today as we mark the grand opening of the Smart Hydrogen Energy District,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan). “This is one example of the ground-breaking work taking place across our province that is propelling us towards a net-zero future. With support from the Government of Canada, home-grown innovation is fueling economic growth for British Columbians today and for years to come.”

Lou Bosshart, UBC Media Relations

Featured image: SHED’s hydrogen fuelling station. (UBC Applied Science/Paul Joseph)

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