China's largest solar-powered green hydrogen facility has been put into operation after the last piece of solar panel was installed in Kuqa, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Wednesday.
The facility is able to generate hydrogen with no carbon emissions during the process, replacing the old solution of using natural gas.
The green hydrogen facility is expected to reduce 485,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year, marking a new breakthrough in the country's continued efforts to cut significant carbon emissions in the industrial sector.
The field of solar panels spans an area equivalent to 900 soccer fields at the facility, which has already connected to the grid. Thanks to the local climate, which provides abundant solar energy, it can generate nearly 600 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.
As the only petrochemical enterprise of the Sinopec Group in Xinjiang, Tahe Refining & Chemical Co., Ltd. provides about 70 percent of the gasoline and diesel supply in southern Xinjiang.
However, the hydrogen used in the refining process currently emits a large amount of carbon dioxide in the production process. Replacing existing natural gas hydrogen production with photovoltaic power generation will play a vital role in reducing carbon emissions.
The spherical vessels for storing hydrogen at the facility in Kuqa, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, July 11, 2023. /CFP
It's the first time we have introduced green hydrogen into our refinery," said Liu Ziying, deputy manager of production and management department of Tahe Refining & Chemical Co., Ltd. "Our two sets of facilities to generate hydrogen with natural gas will finally end their service, which could save about 24,000 tonnes of natural gas."
Liu said it's one step forward toward a green refinery. "The next step is to boost solar-powered hydrogen production."
The transformation of the chemical industry is a crucial part of carbon neutrality. The carbon emissions of the chemical industry nationwide account for 20 percent of industrial emissions around the nation, or 13 percent of the country's total carbon emissions.
The construction of the facility has propelled the development of a slew of equipment.
Both the front and back of the solar panels can absorb the sunlight and generate electricity, which can boost 3-5 percent of the total electricity.
The electrolyzers, a key piece of equipment for generating hydrogen, have been upgraded to save the factory area and lower the cost.
High-efficiency and high-power electrolyzers are the key equipment for large-scale hydrogen production from renewable energy. The project has adopted 52 electrolyzers, way more than the regular demand of less than 30 for such a facility.
The technicians have self-developed a control system that ensures stable solar-powered electricity to generate hydrogen.