Overview of potential salt cavern hydrogen storage (Photo courtesy of Iain Kaufman-O'Keefe via Zoom)Overview of potential salt cavern hydrogen storage (Photo courtesy of Iain Kaufman-O'Keefe via Zoom)

Sarnia-Lambton has potential to become 'hydrogen hub'

A group of fifth year engineering students from Queen's University believes Sarnia is a great fit for construction of a hydrogen generation and storage facility.

Iain Kaufman-O'Keefe, Elaine Monteiro, and Alastair Murray presented their project during a Zoom conference Monday, in collaboration with the Bowman Centre.

Hydrogen would be produced by electrolysis of water, and stored in salt caverns, making Sarnia-Lambton one of the first "hydrogen hubs" in Canada.

Kaufman-O'Keefe said the product could then be sold as is or run through a fuel cell to produce electricity during peak demand hours.

"Due to a lot of renewables acting on the grid, there's now a surplus base of generation and this generation acts as a dead weight to the electricity grid," said Kaufman-O'Keefe. "We believe that the facility could help capture this net dead weight on the grid by capturing peaks where energy could be curtailed or thrown out and instead capture it and sell it at higher prices using arbitrage."

Each salt cavern could store about 200 tonnes of hydrogen that could generate about 5,000 MW hours of electricity.

Monteiro said as jobs are displaced, and a transition to greener energy occurs, it'll be up to regions to leverage their resources to remain competitive.

"Sarnia is uniquely positioned to do so with an extensive history of industrial and technical prowess in the areas of petrochemicals, and energy," said Monteiro. "Sarnia has the right geology for salt caverns to be utilized as a storage medium, and is situated in an ideal location in the centre of the Great Lakes industrial corridor. This makes this a great opportunity to diversify the Sarnia-Lambton area's industrial mix."

If all goes according to plan, the group hopes to begin stakeholder engagement this year, and conduct site testing in 2022.

They hope to receive regulatory approvals in 2023, and develop further partnerships with the IESO and OPG in 2024.

Site construction is targeted for 2026-2029, and would be in service by 2030.

Read More Local Stories