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Renewable energy will be crucial in decarbonizing major carbon emitters

By Hou Liqiang | | Updated: 2023-12-09 22:35
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A person walks past a "#COP28" sign during The Changemaker Majlis, a one-day CEO-level thought leadership workshop focused on climate action, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Oct 1, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

Green hydrogen made from renewable energy will play a crucial role in decarbonizing some major carbon emitters that are hard nuts to crack in climate mitigation, industrial insiders said.

Renewable energy is expected to cover 70 percent of future energy consumption, leaving around 30 percent still dependent on fossil fuels in sectors like steel, cement, aviation, and long-haul shipping, said Li Zhenguo, founder and president of LONGi Green Energy Technology Co Ltd., a leading enterprise in China's solar power industry.

He made the remark at an event on the sidelines of the COP28 United Nations climate change conference on Friday, which is scheduled to take place from Nov 30 to Dec 12 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

He said hydrogen energy is the best solution for deep decarbonization in this remaining 30 percent, indicating the potential role of the flammable gas in replacing fossil fuels in these sectors.

Currently, in the global energy structure, however, the proportion of green hydrogen only covers less than 1 percent, while gray hydrogen produced from coal and natural gas accounts for as much as 96 percent, Li said.

This is mainly due to the higher manufacturing cost of green hydrogen, which is two to three times that of fossil fuel-produced hydrogen, he continued.

Therefore, making green hydrogen production clean, low-carbon, and low-cost is urgent. "This can be achieved by using low-cost solar power generation for hydrogen production," he noted.

The energy output of a single unit of a solar power module during its lifecycle is 100 times greater than the energy consumed in its production, he said.

He said sunlight is evenly distributed globally, an endless and renewable resource, and silicon, as the most important raw material for solar power generation, is widely distributed on the Earth's surface.

He pointed out that constructing PV power stations near hydrogen production facilities with abundant sunlight resources is a viable solution to reduce the cost of hydrogen production.

Zhang Jie, vice president of the Energy Investment Professional Committee of the Investment Association of China, said hydrogen is needed in many industries in China's chemical sector.

In the coal-to-chemical industry, for instance, hydrogen is made from coal to work as a raw material for almost all downstream products, he said.

He said one of the major challenges in China's energy transition is transforming renewable energy into hydrogen to support the production of these products.

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