Deputy says powering city via renewable energy from sea not a pipedream
Shanghai has a rather short coastline, but renewable energy from the sea in its exclusive economic zone could satisfy the city's entire electrical needs, said Ding Guanghong, a professor at Fudan University and deputy to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC).
Ding made the comments in an interview with Shanghai Daily during the Fifth Session of the 13th NPC taking place in Beijing.
While China's economic activities and population gravitate to the eastern part of the country, especially along its east coast, renewable energy such as solar and on-shore wind are mainly being used in the country's west.
"Since electricity or energy substances such as hydrogen have to be transmitted to the rest of the country over long distances, that results in high costs and low energy security for coastal cities like Shanghai in their quest for a greener future," Ding said.
In 2020, 45 percent of total electricity consumption in Shanghai was imported from other regions in China, and renewables accounted for only 8 percent.
China has already professed its ambition to tap off-shore wind power. As of the end of 2020, the installed capacity of off-shore wind power totaled 9,000 megawatts, accounting for only 3.2 percent of the country's entire wind capacity, but a whopping 290 gigawatts of new off-shore wind capacity is planned through 2025.
The challenge, Ding said, is to harness different kinds of power from the sea, including wind, solar, tidal currents and wave energy, with a single platform, and cost effectively produce hydrogen via water electrolysis.
The hydrogen produced, he explained, can be transported to shore at relatively lower costs, and the off-shore hydrogen production platforms can be used as refueling stations for ships that run on hydrogen.
"Europe is leading the world in innovation in this regard, but China is just one or two years behind, and we already have solid and even cutting-edge technologies for producing electricity and hydrogen from the sea and land," Ding said. "We have to do it fast."
"The development of an energy production platform far off at sea that integrates all those technologies will be painstaking, as will the commercialization of such platforms," he said.
Last year, Zhejiang Province, Zhangzhou City in Fujian Province and Dalian in Liaoning Province announced plans and projects to produce hydrogen at sea.
China aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.