Under the Paris Agreement, governments around the globe have committed to long-term goals and actions toward a net-zero emissions future. Hydrogen can play a critical role in these efforts. Used as an alternative fuel, it can help decarbonize many sectors of the world’s economy, including power generation, freight and transportation, manufacturing, and resource extraction.

To support the deployment of hydrogen technologies in various sectors and throughout the hydrogen ecosystem, there is a need to better understand how standards and codes can help facilitate their safe and reliable implementation.

  1. Standards promote safety within the hydrogen ecosystem
  2. Harmonized requirements level the playing field across North America
  3. Hydrogen can help decarbonize various modes of transportation
  4. A standardized classification system is vital for establishing sustainable production of hydrogen
  5. Collaboration is key to unlock the potential of hydrogen

Standards promote safety within the hydrogen ecosystem

Standards play a crucial role in promoting safety by establishing consistent, repeatable, and reliable criteria and design and testing methodologies for equipment and systems. They are developed through a consensus-based process engaging a balanced group of volunteer experts representing diverse viewpoints and perspectives. By establishing common language and requirements, standards help ensure interoperability and compatibility of systems and components, which helps reduce technical and financial risks associated with adopting new technologies. A common framework also encourages communication and collaboration among different interest groups, from manufacturers and operators to regulators and end users.

Harmonized requirements level the playing field across North America

CSA Group’s Standards Development organization, a leader in standards research, development, education, and advocacy, has been active in alternative energy solutions for almost three decades, with initial work on fuel cell technologies.

As the standardization landscape for hydrogen has evolved and expanded to new areas encompassing the entire value chain, the scope of our activities has grown. Our standards solutions now cover various aspects of the hydrogen ecosystem, from hydrogen production, including carbon capture utilization and storage, through hydrogen storage and delivery to its end-use in transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial applications.

Many CSA standards for the hydrogen ecosystem are binational, developed and accredited for use in Canada and the U.S., to help ensure harmonization of requirements across North America, or derived from international standards and customized for the unique needs of Canada and the U.S.

More than 500 expert volunteers currently serve on over 30 CSA Group committees to develop and maintain 100+ standards and guidelines that support the hydrogen ecosystem.

Hydrogen can help decarbonize various modes of transportation

By transitioning to hydrogen, Canada could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 32%, according to the 2050 Transformative Scenario outlined in the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada.

CSA Group research and standards support these efforts. Our activities focused on using hydrogen for clean energy and transportation, which started more than two decades ago, with the publishing of the first North American fuel cells standard in 1998. In 2002, CSA Group began working with Natural Resources Canada, the U.S. Department of Energy, and other stakeholders to develop safety standards for hydrogen vehicles and hydrogen fueling stations.

Today, our portfolio of standards for hydrogen vehicles and fuel cell technologies addresses a wide range of topics, including stationary and portable fuel cell power systems and modules, fuel containers and fuel system components for compressed hydrogen vehicles, hydrogen fueling and dispensing systems, and test methods for material compatibility in compressed hydrogen applications.

CSA Group also works closely with SAE International to align fuel cell electric vehicles and hydrogen refueling standards. In addition, CSA Group is actively promoting incorporating its hydrogen standards by reference in relevant codes such as the Hydrogen Technologies Code (NFPA 2) and the Canadian Hydrogen Installation Code (CHIC).

CSA Group also explores the use of hydrogen in other modes of transportation. Our research on Alternative Fuels and Energy Systems for the Marine Sector examined the role of hydrogen and other alternative fuels in marine transportation. The research report offered insights on decarbonization pathways, business factors, fuelling technology, and supply chain readiness, as well as regulatory drivers and status.

A standardized classification system is vital for establishing sustainable production of hydrogen

While the use of hydrogen can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and unlock new economic opportunities, the extent of these benefits depends on how hydrogen is produced, distributed, and used. Currently, there is no standardized system for classifying hydrogen based on the sustainability of its supply chain.

With growing interest in utilizing hydrogen in a wide range of applications, CSA Group has also published a research report exploring gaps and priorities for the classification of carbon intensity of hydrogen production. The report Advanced Classification of Hydrogen: Life Cycle Assessment and Beyond offers insights that can help develop a classification system for hydrogen to support commercial growth, both regionally and internationally, and help achieve sustainable development goals. Additionally, a widely accepted classification system would complement government policies and regulations and facilitate compliance and commerce among jurisdictions.

As the study concludes, there are well-developed tools for conducting lifecycle assessments of hydrogen supply chains. These tools are based on standard methods and definitions that could be integrated to support a new hydrogen classification system.

Collaboration is key to unlock the potential of hydrogen

With vast potential applications of hydrogen and the interests of multiple stakeholders, CSA Group initiatives require various sectors to work together. That was a key driver for the establishment of the CSA Hydrogen Advisory Group (H2AG). The main goal of the advisory group is to actively monitor hydrogen activities and engage with stakeholders to evaluate and address potential standardization needs.

Visit our Hydrogen Ecosystem webpage to learn more about CSA Group standards, research, and collaborative initiatives that can help unlock the full potential of the hydrogen ecosystem.