Wheatland County has been no stranger to economic opportunities recently. Big investments like the Phyto Organix Plant and the wallboard manufacturing plant have the future looking bright. Now, we can potentially add hydrogen energy to the list.

Wheatland’s Economic Development Officer Jamie Kramble and Wheatland Business Development Specialist for Hydrogen Markus Lehmann are working together to bring hydrogen to the county. Kramble explains he's been working to establish contacts, attract stakeholders and investors, and get businesses on board to make this a reality.

"Hydrogen is a new and emerging opportunity. We are an energy county, we have a large natural gas as well as a clean and renewable energy industry, and so we decided to take a look at hydrogen and that came from a presentation that was made to council in November on the hydrogen industry talking about the different types of hydrogen and some of the opportunities and the global scale of this industry," Kramble said.

Kramble added that hydrogen has been a big topic of interest for all of Alberta, and Wheatland County could make themselves major players in that market.

"There's a lot of different cities and municipalities throughout Alberta that are looking to establish hubs where hydrogen will be produced and finding out how hydrogen can be used and sold."

Lehmann says hydrogen energy will become a big part of the energy sector as a whole.

"We think this is a very current and important item on the economic agenda, not only here in Wheatland County, but globally, as the energy transition becomes a more palatable fact in everyday life and the hydrogen economy is very significant in that energy transition," Lehmann said.

However, this doesn't mean that we should expect hydrogen energy to eat into oil and gas's economy. Lehmann says not only can they coexist, they can actually strengthen each other.

"We're not taking away from any energy or resources that are already in existence, we're actually aggregating, making more possible jobs and economic development with the conclusion of hydrogen aspects into the economic development and into the economy."

Like Kramble, Lehmann says he sees a big opportunity for Wheatland County to become a prominent player on the global energy market.

"(We want to) start developing a roadmap where the county can start engaging with investors, corporations and developers throughout the region, but also internationally to make Wheatland County a flagstone region for economic development and the hydrogen economy."

A meeting will be held on August 9 from 3:00-4:30 p.m to discuss hydrogen energy. Lehmann hopes to hear from the entire community; whether you're a stakeholder, business, curious resident or have some insight, Lehmann says this meeting is focused on listening to what the community has to say. You can find all the meeting details here.

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