Hydrogen, solar tipped as potent renewable couple
Coupling green hydrogen technology with the photovoltaic sector will be key to achieving carbon neutrality in China, and the government should come up with more policies and financial support to further promote clean energy, said a top company official.
The pairing of green power plus green hydrogen is the best solution to achieving carbon neutrality, and cost reductions from solar power will play a key role in promoting the development of hydrogen, said Li Zhenguo, founder and president of Longi Green Energy Technology Co, a global leading solar company.
Solar power fundamentally reduces carbon emissions and provides a clean energy source in the form of green hydrogen, which, as a new type of energy storage, can address intermittency issues with renewable energy, he said.
Li said the company is planning to step up its capacity of large-scale water electrolysis equipment for hydrogen production in China, while investing more in the research of hydrogen production using photovoltaic intermittent green electricity.
Longi established Longi Hydrogen Energy Tech Co Ltd and its first hydrogen energy equipment manufacturing plant in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, last year. Production capacity at the Wuxi plant will reach 1.5 gigawatts by the end of 2022 and is expected to reach 5-10 GW by 2025, said the company.
An analyst said hydrogen production in China is expected to grow rapidly due to the substantial expansion of downstream hydrogen energy utilization amid the country's ambitious goals of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.
The green hydrogen industry in China is likely to see costs further reduced with technological advances. However, production, supply, storage and sales of green hydrogen are still in the initial stages, and China needs to accumulate more experience for future large-scale development, said Luo Zuoxian, head of intelligence and research at the Sinopec Economics and Development Research Institute.
Considering the fact that the development of green hydrogen is highly dependent on policy and carbon prices play a critical role in the cost of green hydrogen, Li from Longi suggested the government come up with a national green hydrogen standard to encourage more participation of hydrogen production using renewable energy and the use of water electrolysis with renewable energy.
"China needs more policy support, including a standard definition of green hydrogen and a clear penetration target for hydrogen in the country's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25)," he said.
He also called on the government to come up with subsidy incentives for green hydrogen and continue to deepen and improve the carbon trading market, adding that an improved carbon trading market also plays a key role in promoting green hydrogen in China.
Statistics released by Longi show that green hydrogen saves around 20 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions per kilogram of hydrogen compared to gray hydrogen production, which means an extra income of about $1.33 per kilogram based on current carbon prices in Europe, thus making green hydrogen more cost competitive.
"Green hydrogen has an absolute economic advantage in regions such as the European Union with its high carbon prices," said Li.
"However, in China, the current carbon price on the Shanghai Carbon Exchange is only around $8.33 per metric ton, which means a compensation rate of around 17 cents for green hydrogen per kg. This is far from enough for the development of China's green hydrogen."
"Green hydrogen must be included in the energy management system, and green hydrogen incentive policies must be introduced," he said, adding that the industry needs appropriate financial support for green hydrogen and improvements in the carbon trading market.
A national large-scale green hydrogen demonstration project to further promote advanced technologies and products will also help improve the industrial chain including hydrogen production, storage and transportation, said Li.
As a renewable energy industry leader, Longi vows to continue investing in research and development to increase efficiency and reduce the cost of both PV and hydrogen production, he added.