Home Energy system Can green hydrogen help decarbonize China’s heavy industry?

Can green hydrogen help decarbonize China’s heavy industry?


New research published in natural energy highlighted how China’s economy can use green hydrogen to decarbonize the heavy industry sector, helping to achieve the country’s decarbonization commitments for 2030 and 2060.

“Hard to reduce” (HTA) sectors, such as iron, steel, cement, chemicals and building materials, are highly dependent on fossil fuels and account for around 30% of global annual CO2 emissions. The largest MV sector is heavy transport, which is more difficult to electrify than passenger transport because it requires huge batteries that add to vehicle weight and take a long time to charge.

China has pledged to become net zero by 2060, but is by far the largest producer of iron, steel and building materials.

The study is the first of its kind to assess the use of green hydrogen in China’s energy system and economy.

Reduce CO from China2 emissions

The study assessed three questions: What are the main challenges of decarbonizing MV sectors? What are the potential roles of clean hydrogen both as an energy carrier and as a raw material in the MV sectors? And would the widespread application of clean hydrogen in the MV sectors be profitable compared to other options?

Xi Yang, lead author of the study, explained, “Filling this research gap will help chart a clearer roadmap for China’s CO.2 emission reductions. Our goal with this study was to envision a role for clean hydrogen in China’s energy economy, which can then provide a benchmark for other developing economies with large heavy industry and transportation sectors. .

While decarbonizing MV sectors is key to achieving a net zero economy, it also has other benefits. New markets for green hydrogen could contribute to the transition of the electricity system towards renewable resources.

Green hydrogen production would achieve this goal by providing a more flexible form of electricity demand. Unlike other supplies, it can be scheduled on short notice. This is valuable for grid operators as it helps them adapt to the variability of renewable energy sources as they are affected by changing weather conditions.

Green vs Blue Hydrogen

As part of the study, the researchers investigated whether green or blue hydrogen would be more cost-effective. The study leans towards green hydrogen, indicating that the average cost of green hydrogen in China can be reduced to two dollars per kilogram of hydrogen by 2037. Moreover, it could be further reduced by 2050 , amounting to $1.2 per kg. This is more cost effective than blue hydrogen, which would cost $1.9 per kg.

“China has rich untapped resources of solar and wind energy, both onshore and offshore,” said Chris P Nielsen, co-author of the paper and executive director of the Harvard-China Project.

“These resources give China advantages to develop green hydrogen for use in its industrial and transportation sectors.”