An energy conference devoted to hydrogen technologies and low-carbon strategies kicked off in the southern Chinese city of Foshan on Wednesday with policymakers, industry insiders and scholars sharing their insights into a green future powered by the potentially clean energy carrier.
The 2021 UNDP Hydrogen Industry Conference started with the launch of multiple green hydrogen projects focusing on sectors including talent training, fuel-cell-electric vehicle development and hydrogen production technology commercialization.
Foshan has been designated a “Hydrogen Energy Demonstration City” by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with the aim of stepping up production and application of green hydrogen generated from zero-carbon renewables. Guangdong province, where the city is located, has so far attracted more than 200 hydrogen energy companies, which have brought the total value of the region’s hydrogen industry up to 10 billion yuan ($1.58 billion), local authorities said at the conference.
In collaboration with the nation’s ministry of science and technology, UNDP has been supporting the demonstration and commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles in China since 2003. Hydrogen, the lightest and most abundant element in the universe, is seen by many as a clean energy carrier for the future as it produces no direct emissions of greenhouse gases or pollutants when burning as fuel. And while batteries currently dominate the field of electric vehicles, some companies are betting that hydrogen-powered fuel cells will be a better choice than batteries for heavy vehicles, such as trucks, ships and potentially even airplanes, Bloomberg reported.
Currently, there are more than 7,800 fuel cell vehicles and 173 hydrogen refueling stations in China. The city of Foshan expects to see 5,800 fuel cell-powered commercial vehicles deployed in its Nanhai district by 2025.
The conference was hosted weeks after the close of the United Nations global climate summit, known as COP26, hosted in Glasgow, Scotland, during which nearly 200 nations struck a deal to ramp up their efforts to meet goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which included holding the increase in global average temperature to “well below” 2 degrees C and to “pursue efforts” to limit it to 1.5 degrees C. At the summit, China and the U.S., the world’s two largest emitters of carbon, also agreed to work together this decade to prevent global warming. China has strengthened its resolve to blunt climate change and build a greener economy since President Xi Jinping last year outlined the country’s ambitious targets of peaking greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.
“Building on the momentum from the important 2030/60 carbon pledges put forward by President Xi Jinping and China’s updated commitments under the Paris Agreement, it will be key to fully harness the potential of clean hydrogen as it can offer zero carbon solutions to help transform high-emission sectors,” Beate Trankmann, UNDP Resident Representative in China, said in her opening remarks.
According to UNDP, the organization will continue to support efforts to make hydrogen cleaner and cheaper, boost innovation and investments in the sector, and enhance international cooperation – three critical steps to accelerating the adoption of hydrogen as a clean fuel in energy systems and helping China move towards a net-zero pathway.