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Report: China approach to hydrogen production will hurt net-zero plans

November 21, 2022

South China Morning Post:

China’s approach to produce hydrogen from coal and deploying carbon capture technology will help to enlarge supplies of the clean fuel and reduce emissions, but it is detrimental to the country’s long-term goal of transitioning to net-zero, climate experts say.

As China aims to raise the share of hydrogen in its energy mix to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, a shift to low-emission production of hydrogen is crucial, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Administrative Centre for China’s Agenda 21.

“Equipping existing hydrogen production facilities with CCUS [carbon capture, utilisation and storage] is a key strategy to reduce emissions and enlarge the country’s low-emission hydrogen supply,” the report noted, referring to the suite of technologies which can capture and make effective use of the high concentrations of carbon dioxide emitted by industrial activities.

Hydrogen production in China reached around 33 million tonnes in 2020, or 30 per cent of the world total, but about two-thirds of it was fuelled by coal, generating around 360 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the IEA. Since many of the existing coal-based hydrogen plants in China were built recently, they could be in operation for decades to come. Deploying CCUS in existing fossil fuel-based hydrogen plants, especially in regions with abundant coal, access to carbon storage and limited renewable energy availability can help produce hydrogen with low emissions and at low cost, the report said.

[Yujie Xue]

More: China’s strategy to produce hydrogen from coal does not support long-term decarbonisation goal, experts say

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