ARCHIVED - Canada's Hydrogen Highway™ -- an NRC-born Cluster Development Strategy

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

May 04, 2004— Ottawa, Ontario

The Right Honourable Prime Minister Paul Martin with Maja Veljkovic, Director General of the NRC Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation (NRC-IFCI).
The Right Honourable Prime Minister Paul Martin with Maja Veljkovic, Director General of the NRC Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation (NRC-IFCI).

On April 1, 2004, at GLOBE 2004, the Right Honourable Prime Minister Paul Martin announced Canada's plans to build a Hydrogen HighwayTM from the Vancouver Airport to Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The Hydrogen Highway is two things. First, it is a metaphor for the transition to the hydrogen economy and a sustainable future. A world leading industry will develop along this road, providing economic and social benefits to British Columbia and all of Canada. Second, the Hydrogen Highway is a coordinated, large-scale demonstration and deployment program intended to accelerate the commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Today, it consists of seven nodes – each with plans for its own sustainable microcosm with hydrogen fueling infrastructure as well as a range of transportation and stationary applications.

Map of Hydrogen Highway to be located in British Columbia.By creating an early adopter community of technology developers and users throughout British Columbia, the Hydrogen Highway will play an integral role in removing barriers for hydrogen and fuel cell commercialization. The project will develop a critical mass of expertise, knowledge, and experience in the area, provide data for developing international codes and standards around implementing the technology, stimulate demand for the technology by allowing the media and general public to feel, touch and see the benefits of a hydrogen economy, open doors for international partnership and create a hydrogen infrastructure legacy in association with a high profile international event.


The Hydrogen Highway concept began as early as mid-2002 when Methanex Corporation, BC Hydro and the NRC Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation (NRC-IFCI) first coined the term and later developed and trademarked the Hydrogen Highway logo.

Trademarked Hydrogen Highway logo.

In July 2003, it was announced that Whistler would host the 2010 Winter Olympics and that the Olympics would have a strong focus on environmental sustainability. This set the stage to increase the profile of this project and turn it into an international showcase.

Since then, the Government of Canada, through Industry Canada and Natural Resources Canada, has committed substantial funding toward fuel cell and hydrogen research and demonstration projects. Also, the Province of British Columbia has become a champion of the concept, viewing it as a metaphor for the transition to the hydrogen economy as well as a practical approach for building it. It is, in fact, the backbone of the BC hydrogen and fuel cell strategy document.

With opportunities for public support in place, Methanex Corporation, BC Hydro and the NRC agreed to transfer the trademarked Hydrogen Highway logo and management of the program to Fuel Cells Canada to encourage widespread industry participation. Firoz Rasul, Chairman of Ballard Power Systems, has agreed to champion the program, providing his expertise, profile and energy.

The Essence of Cluster Development

Says Maja Veljkovic, Director General of NRC-IFCI, "To me, this is the essence of what NRC's role in cluster development should be, to provide a catalyst for industry and community partners to come together. We were the originator and early champion of a concept that picked up so much steam that our industry partners wanted to take the leadership role. The project has both federal and provincial support at the highest level and has received international attention. Now, we are playing a supporting role, providing technical support and facilities."

NRC-IFCI – A Technology Centre for the Hydrogen Highway

Today, NRC-IFCI is working in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Fuel Cells Canada (FCC) to establish a node at the Institute and on the surrounding UBC campus. Projects may include:

  • A hydrogen fuelling station and storage tower that will power several Ford Focus Fuel Cell Vehicles. Hydrogen will be generated by an electrolyzer on site at NRC-IFCI.
  • A sustainable energy system – photovoltaic panels that will produce solar energy to power an electrolyzer that will generate hydrogen to power a fuel cell that will provide back-up power to the new NRC-IFCI building.
  • A solid oxide fuel cell will provide heat and power to NRC-IFCI.
  • Hydrogen-fuelled ICE vehicles, hydrogen-enriched natural gas powered vehicles and hydrogen-powered gators at UBC
  • Sustainable residential community feasibility studies and development in the surrounding area at UBC.

Also, NRC-IFCI is playing an integral role assisting each node with technological feasibility studies, data collection and analysis and technology integration. As a fuel cell technology centre, NRC-IFCI has vast expertise and facilities for fuel cell testing and evaluation and integration, including a one-of-a-kind Hydrogen-Ready Environmental Chamber. Through this role, NRC will help companies integrate the knowledge from these demonstration projects into the next generation of products.

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada

Stay connected


Date modified: