In what is considered a breakthrough in the large-scale industrial application of green hydrogen in China, the country's largest solar green hydrogen facility with an annual capacity to produce 20,000 metric tons of hydrogen a year became operational in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Wednesday, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec) said.
Located in Kuqa, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the unit will supply the hydrogen produced to Sinopec's Tahe refinery, to replace its current gas-to-hydrogen facilities, Sinopec said.
As China is rich in renewable resources, the potential for producing green hydrogen, which is mainly done using renewable energy such as solar and wind power, is huge, Sinopec, its operator, added.
The company has vowed to further step up its green hydrogen production capacity going forward, in a bid to tap its substantial market potential and help facilitate China's carbon peak and neutrality goals.
China as well as other countries are racing to develop green hydrogen as a crucial source of fuel with no carbon emissions to help limit climate change. The country announced earlier a target to produce 100,000 to 200,000 tons of green hydrogen a year by 2025.
Creating green hydrogen will increase demand for renewable energy plants, including solar and wind farms, and in turn bolster the renewable energy sector in the country, which has been booming in recent years, said Luo Zuoxian, head of intelligence and research at the Sinopec Economics and Development Research Institute.
Northwestern regions in China, including the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, are rich in renewable energy with substantial potential for developing green hydrogen, Luo said.
The cost of green hydrogen in China is expected to decrease further with technological advances. The project will accumulate more experience for future large-scale development, he said.
Luo believes the green hydrogen industry in China, while still in its infancy, will play a key role in facilitating the country's carbon peak and neutrality goals.
Sinopec began construction of the plant in November 2021 with an initial investment of about 3 billion yuan ($414 million). In February, the company also launched construction of a 30,000-ton green hydrogen demonstration project in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
Sinopec President Ma Yongsheng said the company will further invest in hydrogen, a clean energy source with a big development potential, while expanding other new energy businesses during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period.