Amidst China’s Dual Carbon Goals, the nation’s traditional energy sector, especially its state-owned energy conglomerates, is increasingly investing in the hydrogen energy sector. This move is seen as a strategic addition to their broader alternative energy portfolio.
The Dual Carbon Goals aims for China to reach its peak carbon dioxide emissions before the year 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2060.
An estimate by an industry insider find that more than half of the Chinese state-owned enterprises have made inroads into the hydrogen energy sector.
Over 90% of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in heavy industrial sectors such as electricity, coal, electrical engineering, petrochemicals, aerospace technology, and shipbuilding have embarked on research and development in the hydrogen energy business.
China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC) is one of the state-owned enterprises that have joined this race. CGNPC has long included hydrogen energy as a strategic emerging industry for future key development.
China General Nuclear New Energy Holdings Co., Ltd. (CGN New Energy) recently started the CGN Ningxia Ningdong hydrogen production project. This project is CGN Group’s first commercial hydrogen energy project, aimed at providing engineering proof for subsequent large-scale hydrogen energy projects.
The project covers the entire industry chain from “photovoltaic to hydrogen production, storage, transportation, and refueling,” with a new energy construction scale of 17,600 kilowatts and a hydrogen production station of 2,400 standard cubic meters per hour.
The project is expected to be fully operational by mid-2024. At the same time, CGN is also planning hydrogen energy multi-scenario application projects in several provinces.
Among them, the Lingwu 1 million kilowatt photovoltaic off-grid hydrogen production project in Ningxia and the Hami 1 million kilowatt photovoltaic hydrogen production project (first phase of 600,000 kilowatts) have obtained construction indicators.
The planned project in Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, a 3 million kilowatt wind and solar hydrogen production and methanol project, is expected to complete preliminary work by 2024.
In 2022, CGNPC initiated the establishment of a special fund to invest in a hydrogen liquefaction startup incubated by the group. It’s reported that the company is preparing to launch a second hydrogen energy-themed fund. The investment arm will act as an incubator for the group’s development of the hydrogen energy industry.
Like everything else, the buzz of the hydrogen energy sector started in 2019, when the hydrogen energy industry first appeared in the national government work report at the nation’s top policy meetings.
The energy thermal efficiency and industrial prospects of hydrogen energy far exceed those of other new energies like wind energy. But despite the popularity of the sector, the widespread losses in the hydrogen energy industry pose a dilemma for the enterprises involved, especially for state-owned enterprises.
Some companies are losing significant amount of money each year, with the parent company generally offering financial support to keep these projects going.
Companies are trying to make the hydrogen energy projects sustainable as emerging strategic industries, while constantly researching how to develop a more comprehensive energy portfolio.