China to adapt its electricity production to hydrogen


China aggressively promotes hydrogen energy development to reduce emissions as it strives to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.


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The country aims to modernize coal-based utilities from coal to hydrogen for power generation, targeting 100 gigawatts of hydrogen production capacity by 2050 and doubling that capacity by 2060, according to the World Organization for Development and Cooperation for Energy Interconnection (GEIDCO), an international non-profit group that promotes sustainable energy development around the world.

China is working to reduce emissions from power generation by using hydrogen, gas and renewables to completely phase out the use of higher-emitting coal by 2060.

Objective of the pathways towards carbon neutrality

This will significantly contribute to a low carbon future as part of its commitment to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

In its latest study, the Beijing-based group described several ways to reduce its carbon footprint through the use of natural gas and renewable energy.

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The capacity of gas-fired power plants will reach 185 GW by 2030, expandable to 330 GW by 2050.

Gas-fired power generation capacity is then expected to drop to 320 GW by 2060 as more renewable energy comes online, according to the report released on March 18.

Solar, wind and hydraulic

Other initiatives include expanding solar power generation capacity to 1 terawatt by 2030, 3.2 TW by 2050 and 3.55 TWby 2060.

Wind capacity will be increased to 800 GW in 2030, 2.2 TW in 2050 and 2.5 TW in 2060, according to the report.

In the meantime, the country will increase hydropower to 440 GW in 2030, 570 GW in 2050 and 580 GW in 2060.

The next 40 years will also see nuclear power increase to 110 GW in 2030, 200 GW in 2050 and 250 GWin 2060.

Oil consumption is expected to peak in 2030 at 1.06 billion tonnes of coal equivalent and drop to 220 million tonnes of coal equivalent by 2060.

Coal-fired power generation will be phased out over the next 40 years by 2060, after peaking at 1.1 TW in 2025.

Tackling climate change is one of China’s urgent priorities, as Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed last week that China will strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

The shift from coal to fuels such as natural gas and hydrogen may accelerate China’s transition to a low-carbon future, according to the report.

Hydrogen for power generation could come from several sources, including the catalytic reforming of bioethanol vapor, with and without carbon capture.

The report says that by 2060, China could produce 50 million tonnes of hydrogen per year, up from 25 million tpa currently.

Of its current hydrogen production, 3 million tpa comes from refinery by-products, 3 million tpa comes from natural gas, 10 million tpa comes from coal and 9 million tpa comes from other technologies.

Industry officials have said that China has a long way to go in supplying power to electric units with hydrogen as it needs to develop hydrogen-powered gas turbines on an industrial scale.

United States Adjustment Standard

GE is working to move its gas turbine combined cycle power plant to partially run on hydrogen by the end of 2021, which is considered the world’s first industrial-scale power plant to operate partially hydrogen.

The 485 megawatt facility is planned as a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) facility.

Such an installation conveys waste heat from the gas turbine to a nearby steam turbine, which generates additional power.

The Long Ridge Energy Terminal in Hannibal, Ohio, USA, is now ready to burn a percentage of carbon-free hydrogen at the plant when commercial operations are scheduled to begin in November 2021.

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