Chinese fossil fuel mega firm Sinopec has teamed up with renewable energy companies to create ‘green hydrogen’ as part of China’s continued push towards the goal of carbon neutrality.
The move is a necessary step for the oil-focused firm as the fossil fuel industry is becoming a thing of the past while renewables and clean energy are taking centre stage.
Early this year, Sinopec hosted a video conference with prospective partners, including representatives from Golden Concord Holdings, Trina Solar, Longi Group, and Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor.
The participants discussed future collaborations on clean energy and renewable projects. Sinopec’s goal is to become China’s leading green hydrogen energy supplier, according to South China Morning Post.
Because hydrogen does not occur on earth in natural deposits like coal or oil, it needs to be extracted from other compounds by chemistry. Hydrogen is produced by passing an electric current through water. This process, called electrolysis, separates the hydrogen atom from the water compound molecule (H20) where it is captured.
If the electricity used in the electrolysis process is generated from a renewable source, it is referred to as ‘green hydrogen’.
Sinopec president Zhang Yuzhuo, said that achieving a deeper level of cooperation was crucial to reaching peak emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050 – an ambitious goal set by President Xi Jinping at the United National General Assembly in September last year.
The collaboration will use Sinopec’s financing capability and network of existing fuel stations while the four partner companies would contribute raw materials research, boosted solar energy conversion efficiency, lower costs, and building and maintaining a ‘green hydrogen’ supply chain.
Lucas Zhang Liutong, director at WaterRock Energy Economics, said it should not take long for several pilot projects to get up and running. However, he said it is uncertain how long the pilots will take to scale up as Sinopec intends a gradual shift in energy production methods.
Sinopec has four hydrogen stations operating in Guangdong, Zhejiang and Shanghai, and expects to build eight more in early 2021.
The group has produced more than three million tons of hydrogen since 2019 – accounting for around 14% of China’s total hydrogen production.