A Canadian market test of hydrogen as a substitute for propane is scheduled to start in late 2022 through a commercial trial in Quebec.


Toronto-based Superior Plus Corp. said its mobile distribution arm, Superior Propane, would offer hydrogen produced by Montreal environmental energy pioneer Charbone Corp. to its 780,000 commercial and industrial clients.

Superior and Charbone described their commercial venture as “collective expertise in mobile energy distribution and related logistics and green hydrogen production.”

The firms aim “to make hydrogen fuel an affordable and convenient energy option for companies looking to reduce carbon emissions, utilize green sources of energy and achieve sustainability goals across multiple industry sectors.”

The Quebec deal with Charbone “aligns with our larger strategy to offer alternative energy products, including green and low carbon energy alternatives, to our customers by leveraging our existing energy distribution business,” said Superior President Luc Desjardins.

Zero-Emissions Electrolysis

Under a letter of intent that still has to be finalized, Charbone would build a hydrogen plant at Sorel-Tracy, about 50 miles northeast of Montreal. The plant would earn a green hydrogen brand using a zero-emissions electrolysis method to extract the fuel from water.

In Canada, power for the process would come from dams owned by Hydro-Quebec, a provincial government-owned utility and electricity exporter.

The hydrogen marketing drive would begin in Quebec and could expand to the United States. Superior has U.S. propane customers in the Northeast. Charbone has a 0.2 MW Vermont hydropower plant and it has plans to acquire more U.S. dam sites.

Quebec hydrogen production is basically starting from scratch. Annual output of about 100,000 tons/year is only 0.1% of world supply and 3% of Canada’s total 3 million tons, according to Quebec engineering school Polytechnique Montreal.

Most Canadian hydrogen is made in Alberta for oilsands plants, refineries and fertilizer complexes using a natural gas-fired heat method that produces gray or blue hydrogen.

However, Hydro-Quebec, supported by a provincial energy policy, has announced work on a strategy for leading Canadian hydrogen supply development by taking advantage of its dams to manufacture the green hydrogen, which has carbon-free emissions.

“By 2030, green hydrogen could contribute significantly to decarbonizing the Québec economy by fueling heavy vehicles for goods transport, serving as a raw material for carbon-neutral synthetic fuels produced for the transport industry, and replacing gray hydrogen in industrial processes such as steelmaking, oil refining and ammonia and methanol production,” according to Hydro-Quebec’s latest annual sustainability report.

The deal between Superior and Charbone could widen market tests of hydrogen beyond limited introductory trials underway by Canadian natural gas utilities outside of Quebec.

In Ontario, Enbridge Gas Inc. and Cummins Inc. have a C$5.2 million ($4 million) experiment to serve a 3,600-customer segment of the distribution grid in the Markham suburb of Toronto with a 2% hydrogen blend.

In Alberta, Atco Gas is giving a 5% hydrogen blend a trial run in a 5,000-home neighborhood northeast of Edmonton in Fort Saskatchewan, with a C$2.8 million ($2 million) provincial government grant covering half the cost.