Hydrogen has role to play in carbon neutrality


Technicians check distribution equipment at a hydrogen facility of Sinopec Yanshan Petrochemical Co. [Photo by Hu Qingming/For China Daily]

Hydrogen created by renewable energy is expected to play an important role in helping the country on its road to carbon neutrality, meeting the energy demands of industries that could face difficulties being powered by electricity, according to reports.

Electricity will represent an increasing share of energy consumption as China forges ahead toward carbon neutrality-net zero carbon dioxide emissions-before 2060, said the reports unveiled on Thursday, which were compiled by the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization, an international NGO from China.

The reports-one focused on China's path to peak emissions and one on carbon neutrality-said there is still huge potential in China's renewable energy development.

For example, the country has so far only developed 0.2 percent of its potential solar power.

As the country replaces fossil energy with renewable power to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, more demand for electricity will be unleashed, resulting in 57 percent of energy consumption being provided by electricity by 2050.

The NGO's research shows, however, that some traditional industries-such as smelting, aviation and chemicals-will have a hard time meeting their energy demands through electricity, and these are the sectors where hydrogen made from renewable energy could play a role.

Zhou Yuanbing, president of the organization's Economic and Technology Research Institute, said that despite hydrogen power being uncompetitive in the market due to its high cost, it will gradually gain advantages as prices for renewable energy generation continue their downward trend.

"I am very optimistic about that," he said, adding that as long as the price of renewable energy decreases to 0.1 yuan to 0.15 yuan (1.5 to 2.2 cents) per kilowatt-hour, producing hydrogen by clean energy will be profitable.

He said mature conditions to promote such hydrogen production on a commercial scale will exist in some regions by 2030.

According to forecasts by the NGO, the cost of solar energy is expected to drop to 0.1 yuan per kilowatt-hour by 2050, making it cheaper than power generated by fossil fuels.

"China will proactively develop renewable energy and promote the development of making hydrogen by green electricity," Xie Zhenhua, China's special climate envoy, said when addressing the launch ceremony via a video link.

He also said that aside from electric cars, the country will intensify efforts to develop hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles as it endeavors to build a green and intelligent modern transportation system.