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Realizing the Potential: The Role of Hydrogen in Canadian Transportation

Monday, November 1, 2021

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The Empire Club of Canada Presents:
Realizing the Potential: The Role of Hydrogen in Canadian Transportation

Canada needs energy solutions that advance human and economic development while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrogen plays an important role on Canada’s path to carbon neutrality and low-carbon solutions for transportation. Our country has the potential to be a world leader in the production and use of hydrogen.

What is involved in making this happen? How will it impact Canadians? What role will hydrogen play in Canada’s plan to reach Net-Zero Emissions by 2050?

Our panelists are at the centre of solving this challenge. This is the third installment of the “Fuel for Thought Speaker Series” to learn more about how hydrogen could become a greater part of Canada’s transportation energy mix.

This event was produced in partnership with the Canadian Fuels Association as part of the Fuel for Thought Speaker Series.

Shawn McCarthy, Senior Counsel, Sussex Strategy

Colin Armstrong, President & CEO, HTEC

Mark Kirby, President & CEO, Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association

Wayne Leighty, Manager, Hydrogen Commercial, North America, Shell

*The content presented is free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.*

*Views and Opinions Expressed Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the speakers or panelists are those of the speakers or panelists and do not necessarily reflect or represent the official views and opinions, policy or position held by The Empire Club of Canada.*

headshot of Colin Armstrong

Colin Armstrong

President & CEO, HTEC

Colin is a professional mechanical engineer with more than 30 years’ experience in the hydrogen sector. He is a founder of HTEC and has led the company for over 10 years.

Colin is the driving force behind the development of British Columbia’s hydrogen station network, opening Canada’s first retail hydrogen fueling station in 2018.

Prior to HTEC, Colin led hydrogen initiatives at Sacré-Davey Engineering, including the $21 million Integrated Waste Hydrogen Utilization Project (IWHUP) and the 1,000-kilogram-per-day fueling station project for a fleet of fuel cell buses operating in Whistler.

Colin was also an investor and the lead engineer at Dynetek Industries (high-pressure carbon fiber gas storage cylinders) and worked at Ballard Power Systems to develop fuel cell manufacturing systems.

Colin has been on the Board of the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association since 2011 and currently chairs Hydrogen BC.

headshot of Mark Kirby

Mark Kirby

President & CEO, Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association

Mr. Kirby was appointed President and CEO of the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association in August 2019. With the surge in global interest in hydrogen energy, he has overseen the doubling of membership, the establishment of branches in British Columbia and Quebec and a focus on commercialization in Canada.

Mr. Kirby has nearly 40 years’ experience in technology commercialization, with a focus on cleantech. He joined multinational industrial gases corporation Praxair (now Linde) in 1982, where he deployed oxygen bleaching in the pulp industry, wastewater treatment and emissions reductions applications in Canada and then globally through postings in Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, Danbury CT and Tonawanda NY. He oversaw re-engineering of logistics processes in compressed and liquefied gases – including hydrogen – and helped launch new business units based on innovative distribution technologies.

In 1999, Mr. Kirby became Vice President, Business Development of Questair Technologies, a Burnaby BC-based start-up with novel gas purification technology and part of the vibrant BC hydrogen and fuel cell cluster. Kirby managed strategic relationships as the company grew, going public in 2005. On its sale to Quebec-based Xebec, Mr. Kirby joined fuel cell pioneer Ballard Power in Corporate Development. As the company focused on its core strengths, including heavy-duty fuel cells, Mr. Kirby oversaw the establishment of Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperative (AFCC) and managed the company’s joint venture in the residential cogeneration market in Japan.

In 2009, Mr. Kirby co-founded and became President and CEO of S2G Biochemicals, an industrial biotechnology company that uses hydrogen to transform second-generation, cellulosic sugars to chemicals and food ingredients, leading the company’s growth until its acquisition in 2018 and integration into Canadian forest products company Fortress Global.

Mr. Kirby holds an honours mechanical engineering degree from the University of British Columbia. He serves on the board of HTEC Hydrogen Technology and Energy Corporation and is co-Chair of the Strategic Steering Committee for the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada. He is an avid mountain biker, active in the Vancouver biking community.

headshot of Wayne Leighty

Wayne Leighty

Manager, Hydrogen Commercial, North America, Shell

Wayne Leighty was appointed Business Development Manager for Hydrogen Mobility in 2017 and Commercial Head for North America in 2020, where he is developing hydrogen fuel for fuel cell electric vehicles. Wayne joined Shell in 2010 in the Alaska Exploration Venture, first as a Commercial Regulatory Analyst securing license to operate, and then as Business Planner for the venture. He has also been a Manager in Commercial Finance, serving as the internal CFO/investment-Bank/transaction service provider for acquisitions and divestments.

Prior to joining Shell, Wayne studied Energy Transitions at the University of California, specializing in the technology and policy of advanced vehicles and energy infrastructure. His dissertation included chapters on transition paths in the California transportation sector to 80% emission reduction from 1990 levels by 2050, and repowering of wind power generation. His graduate studies culminated with degrees in Transportation Technology and Policy (MS, PhD), Resource Economics (MS), and Business (MBA).

Prior to graduate school, Wayne worked as an environmental economics consultant on damage cost modelling, as General Manager for a whitewater rafting company, and as Chief of Staff for an Alaska Senator. The latter occurred during major revisions to oil and gas tax policy, negotiation of a $30 billion natural gas pipeline contract, and in the context of increasing oil price. Wayne’s leading role on these policy decisions led to his desire to work in the energy industry, and to graduate study at the University of California Davis.

Wayne grew up in Alaska, surrounded by natural resource industries including forestry, mining, fisheries, oil and gas, and exploring as a wilderness guide. Curiosity about the foundation of these endeavours led him to study environmental science (BS) and economics (BS) at Brown University. Wayne is married with two young children and enjoys all manner of outdoor activities.

headshot of Shawn McCarthy

Shawn McCarthy

Senior Counsel, Sussex Strategy

Shawn McCarthy is an independent writer and senior counsel at Sussex Strategy Group, with am advisory role in the energy and environment practice. Shawn is retired from The Globe and Mail and was a national business correspondent covering global energy.

Shawn’s career at The Globe and Mail also included the role of Parliamentary Bureau Chief, serving as chief political writer, and New York City correspondent, covering U.S. corporate stories and international political stories at the United Nations. Prior to his significant tenure at The Globe, Shawn worked at The Toronto Star, Canadian Press, and the Alberta Report magazine. He has also taught journalism courses at Carleton University.

In addition to his role with Sussex, Shawn writes for various publications, including Corporate Knights magazine, and serves as the vice president of the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom, a volunteer advocacy group based in Ottawa.