China has set a new target to produce 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen by 2025 as part of a new strategy called the “Medium and Long-Term Plan for the Development of Hydrogen Energy Industry (2021-2035)”.
According to Recharge calculations, reaching the upper goal would require about 1.3GW of electrolysers, if run on solar power.
The country is currently the global leader in green hydrogen production, having brought on line the world’s largest electrolyser in late December last year — a 150MW unit in Ningxia, central China, able to produce about 23,700 tonnes of clean H2 annually.
Local oil giant Sinopec recently began construction of a 260MW alkaline electrolyser facility in Xinjiang, northwest China, which is due to be completed in mid-2023.
Hydrogen was declared a key component of the country’s future national energy system and an important strategic emerging industry by China’s main economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
“Development of hydrogen is an important move for the energy transition and a great support for China’s carbon peak and carbon neutrality goals,” said Wang Xiang, deputy director of the high technology department at the NDRC, at a press briefing.
“By 2035, a diversified application ecology of hydrogen energy will be formed, and the proportion of hydrogen production from renewable energy in final energy consumption will increase significantly, which will play an important supporting role in the development of the green energy transformation,” Wang added.
He explained that the new hydrogen plan sets four tasks for the country to achieve in the run-up to 2035:
1) To build a collaborative and efficient centralised innovation platform to strengthen research and develop disruptive technologies, with a view to continuously improve the sector’s competitiveness;
2) To promote the construction of hydrogen energy infrastructure — to “rationally deploy” H2 production, storage, transportation and refuelling facilities;
3) To “steadily promote” hydrogen use in transport, energy storage, heavy industry “and other fields” — including aviation and fuel-cell use in buildings — and form “an effective hydrogen energy commercialisation development path”; and
4) To improve frameworks to “establish and improve policies”, including on hydrogen management, infrastructure construction, electricity prices for green H2 production, as well as establishing and improving standards for hydrogen quality, safety, infrastructure and applications, while strengthening the entire value chain.
As part of this, a new “inter-ministerial coordination mechanism for the development of the hydrogen energy industry” will be formed to “coordinate and solve major problems, and study and formulate relevant supporting policies”.
Wang also announced that Beijing aims to see about 50,000 hydrogen-fuelled vehicles on the nation’s roads by 2025 — up from about 7,500 today, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
China currently produces about 33 million tonnes of hydrogen per year, almost 80% of which comes from highly polluting coal gasification and steam methane reforming, with industrial by-product hydrogen — from chlorine and caustic soda production, coke oven gas and propane dehydrogenation — accounting for the remaining 20%, according to Wang.