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This year could be pivotal for hydrogen technology in Canada

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As the Canadian Pacific Railway locomotive moves along the tracks in Calgary, something is clearly amiss.

It’s the typical size and look that you’d expect, but what’s absent is the low rumbling noise of the diesel engine.

Instead, this locomotive is powered by hydrogen fuel cell and battery technology as part of a trial by the railway to explore whether the low-emission vehicles are strong enough and reliable enough to potentially one day revolutionize operations at the company.

Over the last several years, there has been an increased focus on the potential for hydrogen to decarbonize many industries and help countries reach their climate goals, while revamping energy systems along the way.

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The next 12 months will be critical, experts say, in understanding whether that vision could plausibly become a reality in the near future or remain part of the imagination for decades to come.

There is excitement in the Canadian industry about what 2023 will bring as several demonstration projects are set to take place, while construction will also begin on a massive new hydrogen production facility.

Testing underway

For CP Rail, the hydrogen locomotive completed its first “revenue trip” a few months ago with the expectation to have the trains operating in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary by the end of 2023. The next step will be testing out the technology through the Rocky Mountains.

“It’s a perfect test bed. If you can operate there: heavy haul, cold temperatures, the most challenging operational conditions I’ve ever experienced in my career. And if it works there, it will work everywhere,” CP’s chief executive, Keith Creel, said during a speech at the RailTrends 2022 conference in November.

“If this proves its mettle and it shakes out through the very tough validation test we’ll give it, [it will] truly be transformational for this industry.”

Relying on hydrogen as a fuel source isn’t a new concept, but technology is advancing to improve performance, at the same time as there is an increased focus on climate change around the world.

A large blue bus with its front door open sits in a parking lot.
A new City of Edmonton hydrogen-powered bus sits in the parking lot of a transit garage. A second hydrogen bus will operate in nearby Strathcona County as part of a one-year pilot project. (Julia Wong/CBC)

This year will mark the start of a few other experiments as hydrogen-powered buses and semi-trucks hit the road.

A pair of transit buses will transport passengers in Edmonton and nearby Strathcona County as part of a one-year pilot project.

New production plant

Meanwhile, a hydrogen fuelling station is under construction in Edmonton to allow the Alberta Motor Transport Association to test out semi-trucks on the province’s highways. The organization is looking to offer up to four different truck models this year for local companies to try out.

“I think the next 12 months is largely a proof of concept,” said David Layzell, an energy systems architect with the Transition Accelerator — a non-profit organization set up to help Canada reach its climate goals — and professor emeritus in biological sciences at the University of Calgary.

David Layzell, an energy systems architect with the Transition Accelerator and professor emeritus at the University of Calgary, says for hydrogen to be cheaper than diesel, the higher cost of transporting hydrogen and constructing the fuelling station in Edmonton pose challenges. (CESAR)

“We can actually make hydrogen cheaper than diesel fuel today,” he said, although the challenge is the much higher cost of transporting hydrogen and constructing the fuelling station.

“We are only going to get those prices down by getting to scale,” Layzell said.

Hydrogen has been around for a long time, but there is renewed enthusiasm for the sector as a way to jump-start the transition to a world reliant on low-carbon energy.

Hydrogen is an energy carrier, and experts say it can be used primarily for heating and as a fuel for transportation.

The amount of pollution associated with hydrogen depends on how it’s made. For instance, if solar or wind facilities — rather than a coal power plant — produce the electricity that is used to create hydrogen, the emissions are relatively low.

Construction has just begun in northeast Edmonton on the largest hydrogen plant in the world by Air Products Canada. The $1.6-billion facility will use natural gas to produce hydrogen with the goal of sequestering 95 per cent of the emissions and store them underground.

A man with white hair and wearing a dark suit and tie speaks at a podium.
François-Philippe Champagne, federal minister of innovation, science and industry, is shown in Edmonton in November 2022, announcing funding toward construction of the $1.6-billion Air Products hydrogen plant, the largest in the world. (Janet French/CBC)

“The challenge with hydrogen is a little bit of the chicken-or-the-egg challenge,” said Kevin Krausert, chief executive of Avatar Innovations Inc., a Calgary-based firm that helps develop energy transition technologies.

“Who’s going to build a major hydrogen facility if there’s no demand for it, and who’s going to build a whole bunch of hydrogen trucks or trains if there’s no hydrogen to supply it? So you’ve got this sort of supply-demand challenge.”

Construction of the Air Products facility, he said, begins to overcome that problem.

‘Too little, too late’

There is momentum in the hydrogen sector in Canada, but some experts warn that the most critical question in the next 12 months is not so much about the technology itself but how willing governments are to support the industry.

“That is relative to what’s going on to the south of us with the United States’ policy supports that are very strong and very attractive and could take all the capital [investment] that we might spend up here and divert it southward,” said Ed Whittingham, an Alberta-based public policy consultant.

A man wearing a T-shirt looks at the camera with a rainbow in the background.
Alberta-based public policy consultant Ed Whittingham says Canada will need to step up if it wants to be competitive in the hydrogen technology field with the U.S., which under new legislation could cover up to 75 per cent of the cost to produce low-carbon hydrogen. (CBC)

The U.S. government’s Inflation Reduction Act [IRA] includes significant subsidies to not only offset the cost of constructing a hydrogen facility but to subsidize its operations, among other funding programs.

In some cases, Whittingham said, up to 75 per cent of the cost to produce low-carbon hydrogen could be covered by the U.S. government.

“What really is going to determine whether hydrogen stays niche and stays small scale in Canada or whether it goes mainstream and Canada really becomes a serious competitor is our response to what the U.S. has done,” he said.

“And it could be a case, frankly, of too little, too late.”

The federal government is proposing a clean hydrogen investment tax credit to entice companies to develop new clean hydrogen projects. The tax credit will be worth at least 40 per cent for projects that meet certain labour and low-emission requirements.

In its 2022 fall economic statement, the federal government warned that the subsidies offered in the United States were more generous and increase the challenge to attract investment north of the border.

 

What’s holding back the hydrogen industry in Canada?

 

Ed Whittingham is a public policy consultant and the former executive director of the Pembina Institute.

“Canada will need to do even more to secure our competitive advantage and continue creating opportunities for Canadian workers,” the report said. “Without new measures to keep pace with the IRA, Canada risks being left behind.”

Ottawa is currently accepting feedback on its proposed hydrogen tax credit.

The $1.6-billion Air Products facility under development in Edmonton is receiving $300 million from the federal government toward construction and an additional $161.5 million from the Alberta government once the plant is operational.

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FTX founder Bankman-Fried objects to tighter bail, says prosecutors 'sandbagged' him – Reuters

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NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried on Saturday urged a U.S. judge not to ban the indicted FTX cryptocurrency executive from communicating with former colleagues as part of his bail, saying prosecutors “sandbagged” the process to put their client in the “worst possible light.”

The lawyers were responding to a Friday night request by federal prosecutors that Bankman-Fried not be allowed to talk with most employees of FTX or his Alameda Research hedge fund without lawyers present, or use the encrypted messaging apps Signal or Slack and potentially delete messages automatically.

Bankman-Fried, 30, has been free on $250 million bond since pleading not guilty to charges of fraud in the looting of billions of dollars from the now-bankrupt FTX.

Prosecutors said their request was in response to Bankman-Fried’s recent effort to contact a potential witness against him, the general counsel of an FTX affiliate, and was needed to prevent witness tampering and other obstruction of justice.

But in a letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said prosecutors sprung the “overbroad” bail conditions without revealing that both sides had been discussing bail over the last week.

“Rather than wait for any response from the defense, the government sandbagged the process, filing this letter at 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening,” Bankman-Fried’s lawyers wrote. “The government apparently believes that a one-sided presentation – spun to put our client in the worst possible light – is the best way to get the outcome it seeks.”

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers also said their client’s efforts to contact the general counsel and John Ray, installed as FTX’s chief executive during the bankruptcy, were attempts to offer “assistance” and not to interfere.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan declined to comment.

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers proposed that their client have access to some colleagues, including his therapist, but not be allowed to talk with Caroline Ellison and Zixiao “Gary” Wang, who have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors.

They said a Signal ban isn’t necessary because Bankman-Fried is not using the auto-delete feature, and concern he might is “unfounded.”

The lawyers also asked to remove a bail condition preventing Bankman-Fried from accessing FTX, Alameda or cryptocurrency assets, saying there was “no evidence” he was responsible for earlier alleged unauthorized transactions.

In an order on Saturday, Kaplan gave prosecutors until Monday to address Bankman-Fried’s concerns.

“The court expects all counsel to abstain from pejorative characterizations of the actions and motives of their adversaries,” the judge added.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Gold declines in light of the report that revealed inflation continues to decline – Kitco NEWS

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As of 6:00 PM EST, the February contract of gold futures has fallen for the second time in the last seven trading days. Currently, gold futures are fixed at $1927.60, a decline of $2.40 or 0.12%. Gold traded to a high of $1935.40, and a low of $1916.50.

The key takeaway from today’s PCE inflation index report was that the core PCA index declined in December by 0.3%. The preferred inflation index used by the Federal Reserve was at 4.7% year-over-year in November and declined to 4.4% year-over-year last month.

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Both reports will influence decisions made by the Fed at next week’s FOMC meeting.

They will be critical components used by the Federal Reserve next week and will most likely strengthen the conviction of hawkish Fed officials to maintain their extremely aggressive monetary policy. Currently, the Federal Reserve’s forward guidance is composed of additional rate hikes and maintaining elevated rates for a longer time.

The most likely outcome is that the Fed will raise the rate by ¼% at the next two meetings. The Federal Reserve has stated they continue to work to reach its inflation target of 2%. A vast majority of market participants continue to believe that the Fed will backpedal on its commitment to keep rates elevated through 2023.

I will be speaking at the VRIC 2023 (Sunday, January 29-30) at the Vancouver Convention Center. Both Kitco News and I wish to welcome you if you’re available.

For those who would like more information simply use this link.

Wishing you as always good trading,

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Afraid to check a bag? Canada's missing baggage woes explained – CBC News

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Deborah Cleary was exasperated.

When she landed in Montreal on Dec. 19, following a trip to Italy, she discovered her suitcase was missing. More than a month later, Air Canada still hadn’t found her bag. 

“I’ve spent so much time thinking about it, worrying about it, checking online, calling Air Canada,” said Cleary from her home in Plattsburg, N.Y., on Tuesday. “I’m just sort of desperate to get my bag back.”

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The post-pandemic return to travel has been turbulent, plagued by mass flight disruptions and missing baggage piling up at airports. That has led to calls for airlines to improve their baggage delivery systems.

“It’s broken, so I think they need to fix that,” said Cleary, who visited the Montreal airport two weeks ago to search for her bag amidst a sea of unclaimed luggage. She didn’t find it.

However, following a CBC News inquiry to Air Canada, Cleary learned on Friday that her suitcase is being shipped to her home. 

“I’m very, very happy,” she said. “I had almost resigned myself, I was never going to see it again.”

Deborah Cleary and Dan Albert of Plattsburgh, NY pose for photo during their vacation to Italy.
Deborah Cleary and Dan Albert of Plattsburgh, N.Y., are still waiting to be reunited with their missing baggage that disappeared on their return flight from Milan to Montreal. (submitted by Deborah Cleary)

Canada’s first round of missing baggage chaos erupted in the summer, largely sparked by staffing shortages as airports and airlines scrambled to ramp up operations. 

There were high hopes the holiday travel season would go more smoothly — until severe winter storms hit much of Canada, causing hundreds of delayed and cancelled flights, plus a backlog of lost luggage.

“In the airline industry, a delay of greater than 15 minutes generally results in missed connections,” said former Air Canada executive Duncan Dee. “Delays equal missing bags.”

Former Air Canada executive, Duncan Dee.
Former Air Canada executive Duncan Dee says airports need more infastrucutre funding to keep operations running smoothly during bad weather. (CBC)

Dee said airlines need to do a better job keeping track of luggage, and the federal government also needs to invest more in airports.

In late December, cold weather caused a baggage belt to freeze at Toronto’s international airport; a fierce snow storm caused widespread flight delays and cancellations at Vancouver’s international airport.

“There’s obviously a need for better infrastructure, better resources for airports … to make them more resilient to these weather events,” said Dee.

What about the airlines?

When asked this week about recent travel chaos, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said airports will get the tools they need, but did not elaborate. 

On the baggage issue, he pointed the finger at airlines. 

“I find it extremely frustrating when I hear stories of people not having their luggage for days on end,” he said during an event in Hamilton. “Airlines should be doing more.”

His comments follow several recent media reports about air passengers’ struggles to find their missing luggage

They include the saga of Nakita Rees and Tom Wilson of Cambridge, Ont., who battled with Air Canada for more than four months to retrieve Wilson’s missing suitcase. 

WATCH |Ontario couple told their luggage was lost — but it wasn’t: 

Air Canada said this couple’s luggage was lost. AirTags showed otherwise

5 days ago

Duration 2:18

A couple says Air Canada donated their luggage to charity just a month after it got lost en route to Toronto’s Pearson Airport. They tracked it to a storage locker.

The bag vanished during their flight home from Greece in September. Because the couple had put an air tag tracker inside the suitcase, they were able to track its journey to a storage facility in nearby Etobicoke, Ont. 

Even though Rees shared with Air Canada the whereabouts of the bag, the airline deemed it lost. 

“The most frustrating thing about it was we had no way of getting it, even though we knew the location and we told the airline so many times,” said Rees. “Because the air tags are newer, I just don’t think airlines know how to even use that information.”

The couple finally got the suitcase back this week — after their story was picked up by the media.

Airlines respond

Other passengers have also complained about similar experiences when tracking their lost luggage with air tags. 

Former Air Canada executive Dee said airlines typically track luggage by scanning their baggage tags and that their systems currently can’t accommodate air tracking technology.

“That’s something where airline processes have not caught up to the technology that’s available,” he said. “No airline in the world has the ability right now to accept information from travellers.”

Alghabra suggested airlines need to change with the times. 

“We hear about how Amazon is able to identify where their items [are at] every moment,” he said. “It’s frustrating that airlines still have not modernized their luggage handling system.”

Air Canada told CBC News it’s constantly exploring new technologies. The airline added that its baggage delivery rate has returned to normal, following the stormy holiday weather. 

Air Canada said that in Rees’ case, the baggage tag had fallen off the suitcase. The airline didn’t say how it eventually located the couple’s bag, but did indicate that they get to keep the $2,300 in compensation they received for lost luggage. 

WestJet said it has launched a strategic review to fine-tune its baggage systems. “[We] are committed to working together with our third-party service partners … to ensure we improve in this area,” said spokesperson Madison Kruger in an email. 

Baggage compensation

Travellers can claim up to approximately $2,350 for luggage that is lost or delayed on an international flight. For delayed baggage on domestic flights, the airlines design their own rules. 

Alghabra’s office told CBC News this week the government is exploring ways to strengthen rights for air passengers, including for delayed and lost baggage.

As for passenger Cleary, she had applied for compensation for a lost bag, but said getting it back is a better outcome. 

“I would much prefer to have my bag back than any money from Air Canada.”

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