Inner Mongolia gives green light to China’s biggest hydrogen deal to date
The Energy Bureau of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has approved a demonstration project to generate green hydrogen starting in June 2023 from a network of wind and solar power plants to transform the one of China’s major mining regions into a renewable energy hub.
The cluster of projects due to start in October foresees the construction of five wind/solar hydrogen demonstration projects in Ordos city and two similar projects in Baotou city. Together, they would use 1.85 GW of solar power and 369,500 MW of wind power to produce 66,900 tonnes of green hydrogen annually, according to a report by the China Hydrogen Industry Promotion Association. hydrogen energy.
The group of demonstration projects in Inner Mongolia is the Chinese government’s largest to date, and the hydrogen produced could replace nearly 180 million gallons of gasoline a year if consumed by electric vehicles, said a Bloomberg analyst.
China’s annual hydrogen demand is expected to reach 60 million tons by 2050, an amount that would eliminate 700 million tons of carbon emissions, Sinopec, the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, said in a press release in March. March when China announced its latest 5-year plan, which targets hydrogen as the key to China reaching its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.
To achieve its ambitions, however, the country’s hydrogen industry must not only produce hydrogen, but also decongest parts of its supply chain over the next 5 years, including the development of storage and the infrastructure needed to provide hydrogen for fuel, Bloomberg reported. , citing Daily Headlinesa financial newspaper in Chinese language.
The China Hydrogen Association notes that the Inner Mongolia project will require at least 465 MW of electrolysis capacity to produce the targeted volume of hydrogen, more than the 400 MW of electrolysis capacity expected to be installed on the global market in 2021, Bloomberg reported. .
The Inner Mongolia project differs from China’s other renewable energy efforts to develop hydrogen projects in that it will allocate 80% of the generated electricity to green hydrogen production with only 20% injected into the power grid, the China Hydrogen Association said.
In the past, China’s green hydrogen projects sent most of the electricity generated by renewables to the grid, reserving just enough energy for hydrogen production to secure government approvals.
In 2020, Sinopec has accelerated the construction of an integrated hydrogen energy industry across the spectrum of capital investment, research and development, generation storage and transportation, grid distribution and social cooperation. The company currently produces 3.5 million tonnes of hydrogen per year, according to its website.
Sinopec has built hydrogen refueling stations in Guangdong, Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangxi and commissioned 10 oil/hydrogen mixing stations.
Another major player is Ningxia Baofeng Energy Group, which currently produces coal-based chemicals and is expected to complete a 150 MW solar electrolyser array in 2021 at one of its coal-to-chemicals plants. according to Bloomberg.
China Baowu Steel Group also said it plans 1.5 GW of renewable energy smelting capacity.
The China Hydrogen Association said Inner Mongolia is ideally positioned as a renewable energy hub from which electricity and hydrogen can be exported given that the region receives around 3,100 hours of sunshine. per year and is located along airflow patterns out of Siberia to the south that can power large wind farms.
In July, DNV released the results of a survey of 1,100 senior energy professionals, in which 78% said repurposing existing infrastructure (as China hopes to do in resource-rich Inner Mongolia coal) is needed to compensate for the lack of investment so far in hydrogen. A further 73% said it would be impossible to meet the Paris Agreement goals without a large-scale hydrogen economy.