The World Economic Forum launches today at the 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin a new report that outlines a roadmap for China to develop its market for green hydrogen, a key enabler for the country to deliver on its carbon neutrality objective.
China is the world’s largest hydrogen producer and consumer. However, despite the growing focus on green hydrogen in the past few years, challenges of cost, infrastructure and demand are preventing it from making significant contributions to China’s energy transition. As a result, green hydrogen currently makes up a tiny fraction of the country’s hydrogen production and consumption, less than 0.1% in 2021.
“We need to accelerate the speed and scale of the global energy transition,” said Roberto Bocca, Head, Centre for Energy and Materials, World Economic Forum. “Green hydrogen will be a key success factor to deliver on China’s ambitions to become emissions-free by 2060.”
The report, in collaboration with Accenture and China Hydrogen Alliance, outlines the challenges faced by China’s green hydrogen industry. It identifies six key barriers and goals, related to cost, infrastructure, market demand, industry standards and certification, technology, and evolution and cooperation. To overcome these challenges, the paper proposes 35 enabling measures, to be executed in three phases from now until 2030.
The Chinese government has defined the end of this decade as the deadline for the country to peak its carbon emissions, and the year 2030 marks the start of in-depth decarbonization in multiple industries. This will initiate a new phase of large-scale green hydrogen development. The government’s Medium- and Long-Term Plan for the Development of the Hydrogen Energy Industry (2021-2035) defines, for the first time, the strategic importance of hydrogen as an energy source within China’s wider national development policy.
With strong policy guidance and incentives, China has the potential to commercialize green hydrogen technologies to transform its industrial system and the wider economy, the report argues. To deliver this new technology at the scale required, China will need to focus on developing the sector through industrial, regional and global collaboration.
“The industry is indeed at an initial stage, yet the public and private sector leaders in China cannot underestimate how catalytic the role of green hydrogen could be,” said Liming Chen, Chair of Greater China, World Economic Forum. “We need partnerships across sectors, from upstream to downstream, to make sure we accelerate the momentum.”
The World Economic Forum, through its Accelerating Clean Hydrogen Initiative, is committed to bringing its multistakeholder approach to curate and strengthen such partnerships for cooperation.
Views from the Industry
“Cooperation along the value chain and an even wider ecosystem is urgently required,” said Wei Liu, General Manager, CHN Energy Guohua Energy Investment Co., Ltd and Secretary-General, China Hydrogen Alliance. “Pilot projects will help accelerate the collaboration among the key players. For instance, the development of large-scale green hydrogen bases has been called on to the stage, leading to breakthroughs in key technologies and equipment for green hydrogen and greater integration of the hydrogen-related innovation chain and the industrial chain.”
“Hydrogen is crucial to the net-zero transition of the power sector,” said Jianling Deng, President, China Huaneng Group Co., Ltd. “It matches well with large-scale renewable energy such as wind and solar to achieve dynamic energy storage across seasons and regions.”
“Green hydrogen must be introduced in some fields that cannot be decarbonized through electrification,” said Zhengguo Li, President, LONGi Green Energy Technology Co., Ltd. “We build safe, reliable, large-scale green hydrogen equipment and solutions with optimum levelized cost of hydrogen, create value for global customers with scientific and technological progress, and promote the expansion of green hydrogen application.”
“The development of the green hydrogen market is vital,” said Samantha Zhu, Chairperson, Accenture Greater China. “Chinese hydrogen companies, academics and industry platforms have a unique opportunity to advance innovation and progress in the global hydrogen market through collaboration and project-based exchanges. This would be a positive step towards the coordinated development of the hydrogen economy, enabling economic, societal, energy system and security benefits.”