China and the EU compete for the world leader in hydrogen energy
Not long ago, the energy transition was mainly an idealistic concept driven by environmentalists and researchers. The most important obstacle is the high cost of clean technology. When the cost of clean energy drops, it will get the world's attention. For example, the sharp drop in photovoltaic prices has brought the solar industry to global attention. Now, the same is true for emission-free hydrogen production. Both China and the European Union pay attention to this industry and are ready to dominate the market.
In the mid-2000s, the solar energy industry in Germany, Europe's largest economy, experienced a spectacular boom. Renewable energy was once an important agenda of the German government, and the German government provided generous subsidies to enterprises. The success of these policies has given German companies a pivotal position on the global stage, with one-fifth of photovoltaic cells produced in Germany. However, when the Chinese government began to promote a strong joint manufacturing strategy to establish a domestic solar energy industry, the situation changed. Since the mid-2000s, China's solar energy industry has seen significant growth. Several factors have supported China's success: public support, a large domestic market and large industrial parks.
Now, China is marching towards the hydrogen economy. The European Union and Germany have learned from their mistakes and China's success. Despite the emergence of the new crown pneumonia crisis, European countries and national cooperation agencies have issued a series of public sector statements on the launch of the hydrogen economy.
The German government has reserved an important position in the future hydrogen energy economy in its economic stimulus plan to rescue the financial impact of the virus crisis. At least 9 billion euros will be used to stimulate the development of hydrogen-related technologies. In addition, when Germany took over as the rotating presidency of the European Council for six months on July 1, Economic Minister Peter Altmaier spent a considerable amount of time talking about green hydrogen in his speech. In addition, the EU's launch of the "Green Agreement" for the mainland's zero-emission economy is a meticulous and long-term strategy. The strategy includes a three-step plan. The first is to achieve green hydrogen production and consumption in steel, chemical and refinery industries by 2024; in the second phase, facilities will be connected to form a "hydrogen valley" by 2030; In the final stage, the hot spots will be merged and a large European hydrogen infrastructure will be established. Other countries such as the Netherlands also intend to contribute to and profit from the new hydrogen economy. The Dutch are in a unique position with access to the North Sea for the installation of wind turbines and the existing natural gas network, which can be used for export. The EU's strong support for the hydrogen industry is forward-looking.
Although the EU still leads the industry in terms of knowledge and production capacity, China is catching up. First, China has proved its industrial policy and dominates the market. However, China has not yet set a clear goal for achieving an emission-free society by 2050, like the EU. According to a report by the Cleantech Group, China's electric vehicle strategy can serve as a warning sign to competitors. Twenty years ago, the electrification of automobiles had become an industrial goal and a national priority. Currently, Chinese companies are in a leading position in terms of sales and production capacity. Increased competition is good news for consumers and the entire environment. The current focus on hydrogen is still hype and needs to be translated into actual results. Since public support is still strong, and the installation of wind and solar energy is accelerating, this situation is very promising. This is a prerequisite for green hydrogen production.