Energy Minister Josie Osborne has announced a new pilot project in British Columbia that aims to accelerate the adoption of medium-to-heavy zero-emission vehicles. Legislation outlining goals for the sale and use of these vehicles is expected to be introduced next year. The project will see Abbotsford host a maintenance facility for six different heavy-duty fuel-cell trucks powered by hydrogen.
BC-based hydrogen-energy company HTEC will purchase the trucks and upgrade the current maintenance facility in Abbotsford, as well as a hydrogen-fueling station in Tsawwassen. The province is investing $16.5 million in this pilot project, which serves as a proof-of-concept for the use of hydrogen in the commercial trucking sector.
Commercial transportation is a major source of emissions, accounting for 60 percent of transport emissions and 25 percent of all provincial greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia. In order to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets, the province aims to cut emissions in the transportation sector by 27 to 32 percent by 2030.
While car manufacturers are introducing new electric vehicle models for personal use, there are currently few options available in the medium-to-heavy vehicle category. The province believes that “direct electrification” of heavy-duty transportation is not practical due to the limitations of existing batteries. Instead, British Columbia sees potential in using hydrogen fuel cell technology to power medium-to-heavy vehicles.
Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles have already been adopted by fleets in the province, and there are increasing opportunities for their deployment in the medium-to-heavy and off-road vehicle sectors. These vehicles offer benefits such as heavy payload capacity, short refueling times, and extended operability range. They can also operate in extremely cold temperatures without significant impacts on engine efficiency.
The new pilot project in Abbotsford is part of a broader shift towards electrification in the transportation sector. Legislation to expedite the sale of passenger and light-duty electric vehicles has recently passed in British Columbia. The province is now turning its attention to medium-to-heavy vehicles, with a discussion paper proposing binding targets for their sale starting in 2026, with the ultimate goal of transitioning to all-electric medium-to-heavy vehicles by 2036.
1. What is the purpose of the pilot project in Abbotsford?
The pilot project aims to demonstrate the viability of medium-to-heavy hydrogen fuel cell trucks for commercial use in British Columbia’s transportation sector.
2. What are the benefits of using hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles?
Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles offer advantages such as heavy payload capacity, short refueling times, extended operability range, and the ability to operate in extreme cold temperatures.
3. Why is “direct electrification” not considered practical for heavy-duty transportation?
The province believes that the current limitations of batteries make it impractical to directly electrify medium-to-heavy vehicles, such as food delivery trucks and public utility vehicles.