Sinopec, China's oil and chemical giant, is set to build the first 'West to East' green hydrogen transmission line in the country, according to a report in state media.
The company will construct a 400km pipeline from Inner Mongolia's Ulanqab to Beijing to transfer hydrogen from renewable energy projects in the northwestern region to cities in China's east. The pipeline, set to have an initial capacity of 100,000 tonnes a year, will also have ports to grant access to new potential hydrogen sources.
While China already has pipelines for 'grey hydrogen,' made from fossil fuel sources, this project would offer an eco-friendly alternative, generated through green hydrogen split from water via renewable energies. Green hydrogen has been touted as a clean alternative for fossil fuels in several industries that are otherwise tricky to decarbonize.
The project follows China's goal to produce 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen annually, along with around 50,000 hydrogen-fueled vehicles by 2025, as it aims to transition towards renewable energy. Sinopec intends to accomplish the goal by constructing a green hydrogen plant in Ordos, Inner Mongolia this year, with an annual capacity of 30,000 tonnes. The company launched a green hydrogen project in Xinjiang's Kuqa region in 2021.
Sinopec has also embarked on the world's largest project to use green hydrogen to produce coal chemicals. The project, valued at approximately $830 million, is set to be built in Ordos, Inner Mongolia. The facility will produce 30,000 metric tons (t) of green hydrogen and 240,000 t of green oxygen each year.
Using solar and wind power generated in Inner Mongolia, the facility will supply its hydrogen and oxygen to a nearby coal processing facility operated by ZTHC Energy, where Sinopec is a shareholder. The ZTHC facility uses coal to extract hydrogen. Still, the Ordos project will reduce carbon emissions by 1.43 million tonnes yearly, significantly reducing the facility's carbon footprint.
The world's leading hydrogen makers' current operational pipelines are "grey hydrogen," obtained from fossil fuels. As China moves to accelerate its carbon-neutrality plan, pledging to reduce emissions to a net-zero level by 2060, it intends to rely on green hydrogen - made by splitting water via renewable energy - to develop a more sustainable hydrogen infrastructure.
Creating green hydrogen increases demand for renewable energy plants, including solar and wind farms, bolstering the renewable energy sector. The project will promote the application of hydrogen fuel cells while ensuring the extended use of clean energy.
Sinopec's new 'green' hydrogen production facilities reveal how China's largest oil, gas, and petrochemicals producer is taking advantage of the global drive to transition towards renewable and sustainable energy sources. While its green hydrogen endeavors are research projects, they may eventually become integral to its long-term strategy.
By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com
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