Image courtesy of Sinopec

Green Hydrogen Project Is New “World’s Biggest”

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According to Hydrogen Insight, China has just begun construction on the world’s biggest green hydrogen project, called Ordos. It will nudge aside Sinopec’s Kuqa plant from the #1 spot.

Kuqa is currently being built in the western region of Xinijang. The Kuqa plant is projected to produce 20,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year. Hydrogen from Kuqa is expected to replace grey H2 made from fossil gas at Sinopec’s Tahe refinery.

The even bigger Ordos project in Inner Mongolia will use 390 MW of electrolysers to produce around 30,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year. Hydrogen produced at the Ordos project will partially displace black hydrogen currently used in a nearby chemical factory. The project is expected to cost $831 million.

According to Chinese media, the electrolyser will be powered by 450 MW of wind power and 270 MW of solar. Sinopec has increased its projected output for Ordos by 50%. At present, no date for start of operations has been set.

“The plant also has the capacity for 288,000 cubic metres of hydrogen storage, as well as a pipeline network to deliver the H2 to its main customer, the Zhongtian Hechuang Ordos Coal Deep Processing plant, which makes synthetic chemicals, the company says.”

Sinopec aims to become China’s top green hydrogen developer and refueller. It plans to build a strong green hydrogen supply chain in Inner Mongolia starting with this project. By 2025 Sinopec plans to produce more than 2 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year. To support this goal, Sinopec is developing a gigawatt-scale electrolysis project in Ulanqab, Inner Mongolia.

But China is not alone in the race toward a greener hydrogen future. Hydrogen Insight provides us with a prediction about the top players in the green hydrogen field by 2030. Data provided to Hydrogen Insight by Rystad Energy predicts that Australia, the US, and Spain will lead the market at the decade’s end, followed by Canada, Chile, Egypt, Germany, India, Brazil, and Morocco.

At the recent half-year results call for Fortescue Metals Group on Wednesday, Dr Andrew Forrest launched a scathing attack on decision-makers who are getting in the way of the transition to a green economy. “People who do not understand the grave risk of climate change should not be in any position of influence,” Forrest said. “We’re on a climate edge here, and I want every legislator … in the world to bring themselves up to speed with the science.”

“If they don’t believe the science, then they can just f**k off. Right? They should be nowhere near having any responsibility, whatsoever,” he added.

Twiggy’s company Fortescue Future Industries is the leader in the promotion of the hydrogen economy in Australia, and a frontrunner in the field globally. Although the federal government of Australia has changed hands, the incoming Labour government is still giving support to the fossil fuel industry.

Labour is currently negotiating with the Greens, which hold the balance of power in the federal Senate. Sadly, the previous Australian government, now in opposition, are still trying to block any movement forward that will prevent climate change.

Fortescue Future Industries’ media page demonstrates Fortescue’s (and Forrest’s) ambitious plans for green hydrogen production, with many new releases about their plans in the green hydrogen sector. By 2030, Rystad Energy predicts that Australia will be producing 1.5 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year, equal to the predicted output from the USA.

The Spanish government has already approved 10 new projects, including Fertiberia and Iberdrola’s Puertollano project, which was commissioned last year and is expected to produce 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen annually.

Given the announcements at the start of this article, you would expect China to be one of the top 10 green hydrogen producers by 2030. But it was not included due to the low targets set by the latest 5-year plan. China has been underestimated in the past, though. to the detriment of its competitors.

Bogdan Avramuta of Rethink Energy provides their take: “In the last five-year plan, released in January of 2021, hydrogen was touted as one of the areas of interests which required advancing but that didn’t translate to more than some individual province goals like Beijing’s 200,000 tons per year from 2025 target.

“With the next one due at the beginning of 2025, Rethink expects China to push hydrogen even further up its priorities and dramatically scale up its green hydrogen and derivatives industry.”

Rystad expects a stronger and more aggressive push soon from the Chinese government, similar to what occurred in the Chinese solar industry.

Inner Mongolia, with substantial renewable resources — like wind speeds of 9 meters per second and a solar irradiance of up to 1900 kWh/m2 — is being targeted for this sector. At least 5 hydrogen projects have been announced there this year:

  • Baotou Damao project: 1.8 tons per day of green hydrogen and ammonia. Will cost $1.76 billion and is due to begin operation in 2025.
  • 15 green hydrogen and ammonia projects with a combined price tag of $7.28 billion in the county of Xingan.
  • Ningxia Baofeng’s 100,000 ton per annum green ammonia plant.
  • Alshaa’s 140,000 ton per annum green ammonia plant.
  • Liaoning Taian’s 56,000 ton per annum green hydrogen project.

We should know by the end of the year whether China is set to capitalise on its early lead in solar and wind power to accelerate its move into green hydrogen and take a larger slice of the predicted multi-trillion-dollar market. China continues to surprise, and projections in the area of renewable energy are consistently revised to a faster timetable. Expect more “world’s biggest” from the leading economy in the world.

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

David Waterworth has 729 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth