Two federal departments - Environment and Climate Change Canada and Natural Resources Canada - have said that rapid adoption of hydrogen would result in sizeable emissions reductions because it could displace high-carbon fuels. But the commissioner found these departments couldn't agree on the amount of emissions that would be offset by its use.

Environment and Climate Change Canada has said the use of clean hydrogen technologies could lead to an emissions reduction equal to 15 megatonnes by 2030, while Natural Resources Canada estimates a contribution of up to 45 megatonnes.

The commissioner said both departments are likely off the mark because they used "unrealistic assumptions for modeling the potential of hydrogen."

The commissioner said Natural Resources Canada is expecting an "ambitious technology uptake" in the next eight years - an assumption that he said is not necessarily based on reality.

While the government wants to supercharge the use of hydrogen to reduce emissions, it essentially has no plan to make that happen, he said.


The commissioner said so-called "green" hydrogen - a form of fuel that is produced through electrolysis with no resulting emissions - may not be widely used by the end of the decade because it's prohibitively expensive.

According to the commissioner's report, a gigajoule of natural gas costs about $ 3.79 to produce, while a gigajoule of green hydrogen costs over $ 60 if it's produced using electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar.