The first retail hydrogen filling station in Canada has just opened, with more planned to follow.

The new hydrogen filling station has opened in Vancouver, between the airport and the downtown core. It will help automakers make hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles available to Canadian consumers.

The station was a collaboration between Shell and the Hydrogen Technology and Energy Corporation. The HTEC is a company that is working to promote hydrogen energy and make it available to consumers. The company has partnerships with energy companies like Imperial Oil and Shell, as well as automakers Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai.

HTEC and Shell are planning to open three more hydrogen stations in BC, and HTEC is planning three more with other partners. The company is also building stations in California.

"How fitting Canada’s first retail hydrogen station opens in Vancouver when the country’s first gas station also opened here, 111 years ago. Back then, even with only a few cars on the road, demand for gasoline was increasing and it made sense to build a fuelling station to support a growing network of automobiles," said HTEC CEO Colin Armstrong.

Hydrogen fuel cell cars use hydrogen to create electricity and propel the vehicle. They can offer the range of a gas car, like the Toyota Mirai's 500 km range, with the fast-fuelling of a gas car. But they have the emissions, or lack thereof, of an electric. Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai are all planning to bring fuel-cell vehicles to market and had cars on hand at the station's opening to show off their upcoming models.

While electric vehicles can be charged at home using a regular plug, filling a hydrogen car is more complex. So while the cars might not be available yet, opening stations will help bring them to market. Bringing the hay before the hydrogen horse. A new station with a different operator is expected to arrive in Quebec City early next year.