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Breaking the Hard-to-abate Bottleneck in China’s Path to Carbon Neutrality with Clean Hydrogen


Countries such as China are facing a bottleneck in their paths to carbon neutrality: abating emissions in heavy industries and heavy-duty transport. There are few in-depth studies of the prospective role for clean hydrogen in these ‘hard-to-abate’ (HTA) sectors. Here we carry out an integrated dynamic least-cost modelling analysis. Results show that, first, clean hydrogen can be both a major energy carrier and feedstock that can significantly reduce carbon emissions of heavy industry. It can also fuel up to 50% of China’s heavy-duty truck and bus fleets by 2060 and significant shares of shipping. Second, a realistic clean hydrogen scenario that reaches 65.7 Mt of production in 2060 could avoid US$1.72 trillion of new investment compared with a no-hydrogen scenario. This study provides evidence of the value of clean hydrogen in HTA sectors for China and countries facing similar challenges in reducing emissions to achieve net-zero goals.

Funding source: This work was supported by the European Commission Horizon 2020 Project, the Harvard President’s Office and Energy Foundation China. X.Y. acknowledges the European Commission Horizon 2020 Project ‘PARIS REINFORCE’ (grant number 820846). X.Y., C.P.N. and M.B.M. acknowledge the funding support from Energy Foundation Project ‘Advanced Technologies for Decarbonization of China’s Iron and Steel Sector’ (grant number 2206-33971). X.Y., C.P.N., S.S. and M.B.M. acknowledge the Energy Foundation Project ‘Technology Systems for Carbon Neutrality’ (grant number G-2008-32164) and the Harvard President’s Office.
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics

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