International

China to control half the world’s hydrogen electrolyser capacity

By the end of 2023, China will control halfthe world’s installed capacity of electrolysers for producing low-carbonhydrogen amid a slowdown in new projects due to inflation, according to anInternational Energy Agency report released Friday.”After a slow start, China has taken the lead on electrolyser deployment,”the IEA report on hydrogen said.China’s installed electrolyser capacity has jumped significantly in recentyears, and is expected to reach 1.2 gigawatts — 50 percent of the globalcapacity — after having accounted for just 10 percent of the global capacityin 2020.Electrolysers are devices used for the industrial separation of hydrogen andoxygen within water molecules, using electricity obtained through renewableenergy sources such as solar, wind or nuclear.With the green energy transition underway, electrolysers are becomingessential to replace traditional methods of producing industrial hydrogen.These have relied on polluting methane gas in a process linked to thepetrochemical industry which is inexpensive but results in greenhouse gasemissions.The production of low-carbon hydrogen could reach 38 million tonnes by 2030as long as all projects that have been announced are implemented, the IEAsaid.But the IEA is concerned about rising equipment costs due to inflation whichare “putting projects at risk and reducing the impact of government supportfor deployment”.”Several projects have revised their initial cost estimates upwards by up to50 percent,” it said. The agency is also concerned about the slow replacement of traditionallyproduced grey hydrogen for green hydrogen worldwide.Low emission hydrogen accounted for less than one percent of the world’sdemand in 2022, the agency said, meaning hydrogen use accounted for 900million tonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide emissions.”Low-emission hydrogen use is still far from what is needed to meet climategoals,” the report said, while calling for greater international cooperationto avoid market fragmentation.

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