China is planning for a large-scale deployment of hydrogen to meet the increasing demand for the green energy transition fuel. Li Guohui, vice president of state-owned China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Corporation (CPPEC), announced at the World Hydrogen Technology Convention in the city of Foshan, Guangdong Province that China will develop a 6,000km (3,700 miles) hydrogen pipeline network by 2050, which would be accessible to hydrogen asset owners and traders.
He also said that total hydrogen demand is expected to grow to 100 million metric tons per annum by 2060. In contrast, hydrogen production in China reached around 33 million tons in 2020 which is 30% of the world’s total.
China has committed to peak CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060 which requires urgent transition measures for the energy system. Both hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies have been identified as key priorities in China’s carbon neutrality guidelines.
In 2022, China’s Hydrogen Alliance (CHA) also forecasted that the country’s hydrogen demand will reach 35 million tons in 2030 which makes up 5% of the projected total energy demand.
The infrastructure should link hydrogen production in the wind and solar energy-rich northern and northwestern parts of the country with the market demand which is mostly in the south and east parts.
One of the infrastructure projects will be built by Sinopec and will transport green hydrogen produced in Inner Mongolia to users in Beijing. The pipeline will be around 400 kilometres and will transport 100,000 tpa of hydrogen, which could expand to 500,000 tpa later on. The project also involves building an onshore wind farm and an electrolysis system using wind energy to produce hydrogen.
Another project has been started by PetroChina in 2023 and will transport green hydrogen produced at the Yumen oilfield the company operates in the northwest to a local petrochemical plant. The pipeline will be just 6 km long and will have a throughput capacity of 10,000 cubic metres per hour.
Currently, there are three hydrogen pipelines in China with less than 100 kilometres in length. Globally, there are 5000 kilometres of hydrogen pipelines which are monopolised by top industry players Air Liquide, Air Products and Linde.