What is the role of hydrogen in China’s future energy system?

To answer this question, and to discuss the hydrogen strategies of German enterprises in China, the Sino-German Energy Partnership and the German Embassy in Beijing jointly hosted a roundtable discussion on hydrogen. Experts from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Foshan Environment and Energy Research Institute and German private sector representatives exchanged on the prospects of hydrogen in China and abroad.

Source: shutterstock
Source: shutterstock

Today, China’s main driver for developing hydrogen is the transport sector. As early as 2014, China considered hydrogen and fuel cells as one of its “20 Key Innovation Areas” in the State Council’s “Energy Development Strategic Action Plan 2014-2020”. With one third of global hydrogen production and around 21 million tons of hydrogen produced annually (2016), China is the world's largest hydrogen producer. While more than 95% of China’s hydrogen demand is covered by means of coal gasification or natural gas reforming and other fossil source today, the future might see an increasing shift towards electrolysis with renewable energy. Nevertheless, coal gasification together with CCUS – carbon capture, storage and utilization), i.e. ‘blue hydrogen’, will also play an important and increasing role in China’s hydrogen sector.

Dr. Timur Gül, Head of the Energy Technology Policy (ETP) division of IEA elaborated on the status quo and prospects of hydrogen in the international context, while Dr. Zhao Jishi, Director of the Foshan Environment and Energy Research Institute illustrated the hydrogen strategy, production, storage & transport and utilization status in China. Representatives of German businesses from Siemens, Linde and MAN shared information on their technologies and best practices for hydrogen production, storage, transportation and end-use applications.

The workshop was followed by a lively discussion. The invited experts exchanged their views and suggestions on the future strategic development of green hydrogen and explored the prospects of cooperation in the field of green hydrogen between China and Germany.

The Sino-German Energy Partnership serves as the communication platform for the energy transition in both countries and will continue to facilitate the bilateral exchange on green hydrogen in coming events. For related questions and to follow and join our upcoming activities contact Tim Nees (tim.nees(at)giz.de).