Wheatland County has seen many big investments over the last year, and could soon be seeing energy investments on the way.

Wheatland County Council approved a hydrogen market and recommendations report by Wheatland Business Development Specialist for Hydrogen Markus Lehmann. The report had two recommendations: foster an open for business attitude towards new energy, and create a Southern Alberta hydrogen working group.

Lehmann explained Wheatland County and Alberta as a whole are set to capitalize on what could become a trillion dollar industry, as hydrogen energy isn't a replacement for the energy we already have. Rather, hydrogen can build off of already existing infrastructure, which is quite strong in Alberta.

"Wheatland is very strategically placed for not only hosting the development of these projects, but also perhaps being the base for offices, for educational purposes, for training, for safety and security measures, and the county has sort of embraced this and said 'let's try to take advantage of it,'" Lehmann said.

As for what these strategic advantages are, Wheatland County Economic Development Officer Jamie Kramble explained location is a big one, as Wheatland would be "The center of a corridor that would go from Calgary to Winnipeg on Highway 1," meaning there are many opportunities for the transportation industry. This is on top of several measures the County has taken to make investing more popular as well.

"Wheatland has a tax incentive for large development and significant expansion. We have the rail lines here, large amounts of reasonably costing industrial land," Kramble said.

The prospect of becoming a key hydrogen producer is definitely exciting, but also useless if it has nowhere to be used. Luckily this is not a concern, as hydrogen energy is expected to become a popular energy source. For example, airplanes, trains, and other modes of transportation are already being built to run on hydrogen energy, and already existing traditional vehicles can be modified to take hydrogen, so the market will be there.

What does all this mean for Wheatland County? While development is still in the incredibly early phases of meeting with stakeholders and establishing partners, the work being done now could place the county as a key energy contributor for decades to come. As for the immediate future, a hydrogen energy town hall is planned for April 19 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at Wheatland County Office, where industry, stakeholders, and other interested parties will be invited to learn more about the County's hydrogen initiatives.

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