China’s Hydrogen Ambition in the Global Green Race – OpEd – Eurasia Review

China is one of the largest energy consumers in the world. China’s energy consumption is currently facing serious threats in terms of both scale and composition. In 2019, coal accounted for 57.7 percent of China’s total energy consumption (down 1.5 percentage points from the previous year), oil accounted for about 19.3 percent, natural gas 8.3 percent, and primary electricity and fuel. other non-fossils. Energy sources (including hydro, nuclear, wind and other clean energy) 14.9 percent.

Then in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s economic growth rate fell to 2.3 percent. However, last year’s energy consumption remains strong. According to preliminary estimates, China’s total energy consumption in 2020 increased by 2.2 percent from the previous year. While the rate of economic growth fell by 3.6 percentage points compared to 2019, the growth rate of energy consumption decreased by only 1.1 points.

This shows that China’s economy has strong momentum and high energy consumption. To support sustainable economic and industrial development and to meet the sustained growth of household energy consumption, China needs to consume high levels of energy. However, this has caused China to face enormous pressure on energy security.

Many countries consider hydrogen to be one of the promising candidates capable of taking a vanguard role in the transition period. Therefore, many countries are trying to predict the depletion of fossil fuel reserves (oil, gas and coal). If fossil fuels run out and become uneconomic, the fossil fuel era will end. In addition to the problem of fossil fuel depletion, the issue of environmental pollution due to fossil fuels also promotes why it is necessary to immediately seek alternative renewable energy sources and enter a new energy era.

Since China joined the WTO in 2001, it has gradually consolidated its status as a “world factory,” which also requires the country to build a diversified portfolio of global energy sources. China’s most important energy imports are oil, natural gas and destinations. In 2019, China

imported 506 million tons of oil, a jump of 9.5 percent from the same period last year, setting a record for the 17th consecutive year. In 2020, China imported 542 million tons of crude oil, and its dependence on foreign oil reached 73 percent.

Next is natural gas. In 2019, China imported 96.56 million tons of natural gas (equivalent to 135.2 billion cubic meters), an increase of 6.9 percent year-on-year. Of this amount, pipeline gas imports reached 36.31 million tons and about 50.08 billion cubic meters, or 37.6 percent of the total volume; LNG imports reached 60.25 million tons or 62.4 percent. China’s coal imports have also increased in recent years. In 2019, China imported nearly 300 million tons of coal, an increase of 6.3 percent year-on-year, making China the world’s largest coal importer.

As countries and industries around the world have adjusted the composition of their energy consumption to reduce energy security risks, the pressures and risks China faces in terms of energy security are becoming more prominent. Therefore, China also shows its ambition in implementing policies at the strategic level, such as changing the composition of energy consumption and building a hydrogen energy society, which shows its overall importance.

green hydrogen is hydrogen obtained by a pure process and contains absolutely no carbon elements. Green hydrogen is produced through the process of electrolysis of H2O using electricity generated from renewable energy sources. Hydrogen fuel cells use chemical reactions to generate zero-emissions electricity that can be used in transportation and other applications.

Hydrogen rose to prominence after it was listed in China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021–2025) as “border” and one of the six industries for focused progress. The goals of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan include policies that will later be implemented by China’s provincial and national governments. Provincial policy goals are more ambitious than national strategic goals. A flurry of activity in politics, research and development (R&D), and industrial development shows how the race for green hydrogen has begun.

As seen in the case of the solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery industries, the Chinese government’s approach to creating markets, encouraging technological innovation and promoting industrial scaling can be very effective. Although still in its infancy, the country’s push for green hydrogen already shows that it will be characterized by strong state-led support at every stage of the value chain, from research to technology to production.

The Chinese government has announced that it will support the development of the hydrogen energy industry through several industrial policies. The Chinese government’s annual performance report also mentioned hydrogen power for the first time in 2019, promoting the construction of related facilities such as hydrogen stations. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council said the development of the “whole chain” of hydrogen energy, from production and storage to transmission and use, should be promoted.

Government support has been instrumental in the success of previous efforts to promote new green technology industries such as solar and wind power. Economies of scale and the country’s industry, government support and low production costs have allowed Chinese manufacturers, for example of photovoltaics and batteries, to beat global competitors on price and capacity, if not always best-in-class quality. Increased political support and increased R&D investment prove that hydrogen is an industry in which China is seeking to initiate such a process.

China should continue to increase its use of hydrogen to support the government’s goal of reducing China’s carbon dioxide emissions while pushing climate change targets. China can also develop refueling infrastructure that can help increase the number of new energy vehicles on the road and help China reach its peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 To achieve this goal, it is necessary to overcome technological barriers to reduce the costs of extraction, storage, transportation and delivery of materials to end users.

China’s advantage lies in its strong government support and large market. In addition, China as the world’s largest energy consumer will be the first to bear the brunt of the pressure on energy security, so the government should immediately make strategic policy adjustments to address energy issues for the future.

Silvana is an international relations student at the Islamic University of Indonesia, focusing on environmental issues.

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