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China to Control Half the World’s Hydrogen Electrolyser Capacity

Despite a slowdown in new projects owing to inflation, the International Energy Agency predicts that by 2023, China would control half of the world's installed capacity of electrolysers for creating low-carbon hydrogen.

"After a slow start, China has taken the lead on electrolyser deployment," the IEA study on hydrogen stated.

In 2020, China accounted for only 10% of the world's electrolyser capacity; by 2030, that number is predicted to have increased to 1.2 gigawatts, or 50% of the global capacity.

To extract hydrogen and oxygen from water molecules for commercial usage, electrolysers utilise electricity generated from renewable sources like solar, wind, or nuclear power.

Electrolysers are rapidly replacing conventional methods of creating industrial hydrogen, making them a crucial part of the ongoing green energy transition.

In a process related to the petrochemical sector, these have relied on harmful methane gas, which is cheap but resulting in greenhouse gas emissions.

If all proposed projects are carried out, the IEA estimates that low-carbon hydrogen output might reach 38 million tonnes by 2030.

Nonetheless, the IEA is worried that inflationary pressures are "putting projects at risk and reducing the impact of government support for deployment" by driving up the price of necessary equipment.

A number of projects "have revised their initial cost estimates upward by up to 50 percent," it said.

The delayed global transition from conventionally produced grey hydrogen to green hydrogen is also a source of concern for the agency.

The organization estimates that in 2022, low-emission hydrogen will account for less than one percent of global demand, which will result in 900 million tonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide emissions from hydrogen use.

According to the paper, "low-emission hydrogen use is still far from what is needed to meet climate goals," prompting a need for further international cooperation to prevent market fragmentation.

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