Hydrogen energy opens the door to cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia

Seetao 2023-03-27 09:23
  • Hydrogen energy is a secondary energy with abundant sources, green and low carbon, and wide application
  • China and Saudi Arabia share a common vision in addressing climate change and energy green transformation
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29 Minutes

In the vast North American region, green hydrogen is changing the image of traditional energy companies and providing a large number of high-tech energy jobs while promoting the decarbonization of the industrial sector; countries such as Britain, France and Germany in the European continent have approved up to 5.4 billion US dollars in the EU Under the guidance of the hydrogen technology projects supported by funds, each of them has started a new step in the field of green hydrogen; Saudi Arabia, which is still determined to become a major exporter in the new energy era, is trying to build itself into one of the major hydrogen production and sales countries... The global hydrogen energy industry market has such With its strong attraction, China, as the world's largest energy producer, is naturally unwilling to lag behind.

Hydrogen energy is a secondary energy with abundant sources, green, low-carbon and wide application. It is gradually becoming an important carrier for global energy transformation and net-zero emissions. Major developed countries in the world attach great importance to the development of the hydrogen energy industry. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a global energy power and a key fulcrum country of the Belt and Road Initiative, and has a good foundation for energy cooperation with China. On December 8, 2022, under the witness of the leaders of the two countries, China and Saudi Arabia signed an intergovernmental agreement and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in fields such as hydrogen energy. China and Saudi Arabia share a common vision in coping with climate change and green energy transformation, which can realize the complementary advantages of multiple elements in the hydrogen energy industry chain, and jointly create a highland for the world's hydrogen energy industry.

Development advantages of China's hydrogen energy industry

Under the background of "dual carbon", hydrogen energy will play an important role in many fields such as ensuring energy security, adjusting energy structure, and promoting carbon emission reduction. In addition, hydrogen energy will also drive the development of upstream and downstream industries and help the high-quality development of China's economy. However, at this stage, the development opportunities and challenges of China's hydrogen energy industry coexist. How to expand the advantages and make up for the shortcomings is the key issue to promote the long-term development of China's hydrogen energy industry.

Sufficient raw materials and rich sources of hydrogen. China has a wide range of hydrogen sources, and has unique advantages in industrial by-product hydrogen, hydrogen production from renewable energy and hydrogen production from fossil fuels. At the same time, the installed capacity of photovoltaic power generation and wind power generation in China ranks first in the world, and the installed capacity of nuclear power and other new energy power generation is also in the forefront, which can provide sufficient clean power guarantee for hydrogen production. According to estimates, by the end of 2021, China has achieved a hydrogen production capacity of about 40 million tons per year, with an output of about 33 million tons per year, which can provide a solid basic condition for hydrogen raw materials for the development of China's hydrogen energy industry.

The leading role of enterprises is strong, and the industrial foundation is solid. At present, there are more than 300 enterprises above designated size in China's hydrogen energy industry chain, covering hydrogen production, storage and transportation, fuel cell materials, fuel cell vehicles and supporting infrastructure, system integration and other fields, which can have a strong impact on the development of hydrogen energy industry Leading role to promote the diversified development of the hydrogen energy industry. Huaneng Group and Shanghai Hejide are leading companies in the field of hydrogen production from electrolyzed water and hydrogen production from chemical raw materials respectively, and have accumulated rich technical experience over the years; Xinyuan Power and Shanghai Shenli have deeply cultivated the fields of fuel cells and electric stacks respectively, and have made breakthroughs in many technologies Bottleneck: Wuhan Grove and SinoHytec respectively focus on deploying hydrogen energy passenger vehicles and fuel cell engines, laying a good industrial foundation for the downstream application of hydrogen energy.

There are many related institutions and strong scientific and technological innovation capabilities. China has many universities and research institutions with strong scientific research strength in the field of hydrogen energy. Tsinghua University, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China University of Petroleum and other universities play an important role in the fields of hydrogen energy talent training and technological innovation. In addition, China pays more attention to the innovative leading role of hydrogen energy-related research and development enterprises, and actively guides the technological innovation cooperation between scientific research institutes, key universities and enterprises, in the fields of green production of hydrogen energy, safe storage and rapid transmission and distribution of hydrogen energy, etc. breakthroughs have been made.

Strong policy support and a good environment for industrial development. Since 2020, many policies related to hydrogen energy and fuel cells have been continuously issued, and local governments have successively issued policies to support the development of the hydrogen energy industry and promote the promotion and application of hydrogen energy and fuel cells. Shandong, Beijing, Guangdong and other places have successively issued supporting policies for the hydrogen energy industry, covering multiple fields such as the promotion of fuel cell vehicles, the construction of hydrogen refueling stations, and the creation of industrial chains. In addition to supporting policies, various localities have successively introduced subsidy measures related to the hydrogen energy industry to support the construction of hydrogen energy projects and industrial parks, and thus drive the development of enterprises at all levels in the hydrogen energy industry chain.

Advantages of Saudi hydrogen energy industry

The cost advantage of hydrogen production is significant. Saudi Arabia has the best sunlight conditions and natural gas reserves in the world. The low price of primary energy and the price of desert land have greatly enhanced the export competitiveness of green hydrogen and blue hydrogen. Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030" proposes to achieve the goal of annual production and export of 4 million tons of hydrogen by 2030, and become a leader in the global hydrogen energy economy. According to the report "Economic and Resource Potential of Hydrogen Production in Saudi Arabia" released by the King Abdullah Petroleum Research Center, the cost of blue hydrogen will drop from the current US$1.34/kg to US$1.13/kg by 2030, and the price of green hydrogen will drop from the current US$1.34/kg to US$1.13/kg. 2.16 US dollars / kg fell to 1.48 US dollars / kg. Relying on its own cost advantages and superior geographical location, Saudi Arabia is expected to export blue hydrogen and green hydrogen to Europe, Northeast Asia and other regions. In October 2020, Saudi Arabia exported the world's first batch of 40 tons of hydrogen-based blue ammonia to Japan.

The business environment continues to improve. Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030" aims to create a more diversified and sustainable economy, reduce dependence on the oil economy, encourage the development of private enterprises, and improve the business environment. Since the release of the "Vision", new policies and measures have been continuously implemented, the society has become increasingly open, and the business environment has continued to improve. According to the World Bank's "Global Doing Business Report 2020", Saudi Arabia jumped 30 places to 62nd in the ease of doing business index in 2020, and ranked first in terms of reform measures, becoming the economy with the most significant improvement in the global business environment body.

Potential points of Sino-Saudi hydrogen energy industry cooperation

Saudi Arabia is a typical exporter of hydrogen energy. China has a large import space for blue hydrogen and green hydrogen in the short term, and has the potential to export hydrogen energy in the long term. Although China is currently the largest hydrogen producing country in the world, the hydrogen production method is still dominated by fossil energy and supplemented by industrial by-product hydrogen. Under the goal of carbon neutrality, blue hydrogen and green hydrogen are used in China's heavy transportation, metallurgy, and chemical industries. There is great potential for application in fields that are difficult to decarbonize. Saudi Arabia's blue hydrogen and green hydrogen have a significant price advantage. In the short term, China can provide a demand market for Saudi hydrogen exports, and ship ocean shipping through liquid ammonia carriers or liquid organic hydrogen carriers. In the future, China and Saudi Arabia can jointly develop the global hydrogen energy market, lead the international hydrogen energy trade, and work together to build a global hydrogen energy supply chain system.

Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure construction is relatively weak. The hydrogen energy industry started later than China’s. Its own scientific research strength is not strong. Hydrogen energy technology and equipment basically rely on imports. The first hydrogen refueling station was built in 2019. The development of the hydrogen energy industry urgently needs to build renewable energy. A series of infrastructure such as energy hydrogen production bases, hydrogen refueling stations, hydrogen pipelines, hydrogen energy ports, and R&D centers. China has obvious advantages in the field of infrastructure, and China is in an international leading position in technologies such as solar power generation, alkaline electrolysis, and stationary high-pressure hydrogen storage. Therefore, China can export advanced hydrogen energy equipment to Saudi Arabia as a supplier to promote technology transfer. At the same time, it can also help Saudi Arabia improve the infrastructure construction of the hydrogen energy industry to open up the Saudi hydrogen energy infrastructure market.

Hydrogen energy becomes the highlight of China-Saudi Arabia cooperation

Fahad Alturki, vice president of the knowledge analysis department of the King Abdullah Petroleum Research Center, said that in order to realize the "2030 Vision" and a circular carbon economy, Saudi Arabia will use its advantages in energy and use hydrogen energy as a tool to solve climate change. He pointed out that in the field of hydrogen energy, China and Saudi Arabia have launched practical cooperation, and hydrogen energy cooperation is also a highlight of the newly announced cooperation projects between China and Saudi Arabia.

China and Saudi Arabia have complementary advantages, and hydrogen energy trade and equipment cooperation have great potential and broad prospects. Yi Yuechun, general manager of the General Institute of Hydropower and Water Conservancy Planning and Design, pointed out that Saudi Arabia has rich oil and gas resources and light resources, which can provide abundant raw materials for low-cost blue hydrogen and green hydrogen production. Extensive exploration has been carried out in trade and other aspects.

The development prospect of China's hydrogen energy industry is bright. Zhang Jianhong, project manager of China International Engineering Consulting Co., Ltd., said that hydrogen production from renewable energy in China will achieve large-scale development. With the large-scale promotion of renewable energy, it is estimated that by 2025, the cost of hydrogen production from renewable energy will be reduced by 35% to 50% from the current level, and the reduction can reach 60% by 2050. In the future, with the implementation of more hydrogen energy investment projects, the industrial synergy effect will gradually become prominent, and hydrogen energy will realize multiple applications in transportation, energy storage, industry and other fields.

At present, there are still many bottlenecks in China-Saudi Arabia hydrogen energy cooperation. On the one hand, the hydrogen energy international trade system has not yet been established. Although Saudi Arabia plans to participate in hydrogen energy trade through low-carbon ammonia as a carrier, at this stage the world has not yet formed an effective international trade system, especially in terms of supply and demand matching and price mechanisms. A large number of practical research work to verify. On the other hand, the relevant preparation, transportation, storage, and application standards for hydrogen application in the energy field are not perfect, especially a unified international hydrogen energy standard system has not yet been formed.

In the future, hydrogen energy will become an important part of the energy system, and will also be the key development direction of the energy industry in China and Saudi Arabia. Cooperation in the field of hydrogen energy will open a new chapter in China-Saudi Arabia energy cooperation! Editor / Zhao E