28 Apr 2022, General, Off Grid Energy

Partner Profile: Q&A with CHFCA's Matthew Klippenstein

Matthew Klippenstein Q&A about hydrogen with SFC Energy

"SFC Energy is a proud industry member of the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA)"

Around the world, governments and companies are pledging to achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. Increasingly, hydrogen and fuel cell technology are gaining recognition as critical pieces of the decarbonization puzzle.

This recognition has been a long time coming, says Matthew Klippenstein of the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA). And the industry still has a way to go to ensure awareness of the full potential of hydrogen and fuel cell technology in achieving net-zero targets.

That’s why SFC Energy became an industry member of the CHFCA in 2021.

We sat down with Matthew, CHFCA’s Regional Manager for Western Canada, to discuss this partnership and what it means for SFC Energy. Here’s what he had to say:

Can you tell us about yourself and your history with CHFCA?

I joined the association last year after a 20-year career spanning hydrogen fuel cells, renewable energy consulting (some components of our wind projects were powered by EFOY fuel cells) and EV infrastructure. I also have a chemical engineering degree, giving me some literacy into the oil and gas world.

What interested you about hydrogen and fuel cells and how long have you worked in the sector?

Chemistry has always been like music to me — it has an intrinsic order and beauty — but I didn’t want to be one small cog in a 10,000+ person company. A guest speaker from hydrogen fuel cell maker Ballard Power Systems spoke at a university course I attend, and I decided I wanted to work for that company… I worked in hydrogen fuel cells for about fifteen years.

In a nutshell, what does CHFCA do?

CHFCA is an industry association, which is a polite way of saying we’re lobbyists. We work for our member companies and try to help them succeed. We also advocate with government, educate stakeholders and sometimes talk with media.

How do industry members fit into that equation?

Our industry members will be the beneficiaries of our efforts, so their success is CHFCA’s goal. We’re like sherpas I guess, helping people up the mountain.

What does it mean to me a member? How does this benefit SFC Energy and our customers?

CHFCA and its members have a symbiotic relationship, a bit like the oxpecker (bird) and rhino in Africa. By pooling their resources, member companies can have CHFCA focus on advocacy, outreach, education and making connections while they focus on their core businesses. In return, CHFCA gets a stable budget to do what we love.

What are the goals of CHFCA and your industry members?

CHFCA has a verbose and comprehensive mission statement, but it boils down to us wanting to help scale up hydrogen and hydrogen solutions — including fuel cells — growing jobs while shrinking emissions.

What would you say are the most significant benefits of hydrogen and fuel cell technology? And how does this impact the general public and your member’s customers?

You know how a keystone is the all-important last piece that completes an arch? Hydrogen and fuel cell technology are the keystone to net-zero. That’s their biggest benefit.

Hydrogen has really grabbed the spotlight in the past few years, as governments have shifted from incremental to net-zero climate commitments. I’m so, so happy for our companies that the technologies they’ve worked on are getting recognition as valuable, necessary climate solutions.

Is there anything you’d like to add about yourself, CHFCA or hydrogen and fuel cells?

Everyone knows that Batman movie line, “You die a hero or you live long enough to become the villain.” The French philosopher Rene Girard’s scapegoat mechanism famously showed how the opposite is also true: societies come to regard their scapegoats as saviours.

It’s cool to see this happen now to hydrogen. It suffered decades of criticism and ridicule, and now it’s recognized as the only way to hit Net Zero. It’s not quite an “ugly duckling turning into a swan” fairy tale, but it’s still gratifying to see, and it’s nice that the sector is finally considered respectable.

Learn more about the CHFCA

Learn about hydrogen energy solutions by SFC Energy