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LCI hydrogen summit

The ECCT’s Low Carbon Initiative (LCI) was the co-organiser of the 2024 Europe-Taiwan Forum on Environment and Science Hydrogen Summit, together with the European Union Centre in Taiwan (EUTW). The event was arranged to explore the role of hydrogen in Taiwan’s future energy mix. At the event, opening remarks were made by Wu Chih-wei, Deputy Director-General of the Energy Administration, under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (EA, MOEA, 經濟部能源署副署長 吳志偉); Dr Adrian Rauchfleisch, Deputy Director General of EUTW (臺灣歐盟中心副主任 劉好迪) and ECCT LCI Chair H. Henry Chang. This was followed by presentation by Wu Chih-wei and three ECCT members, namely, Olivier Letessier, President of Air Liquide Far Eastern; Thomas Ringmann, Director of Business Development for Siemens Energy and Laurent Chevalier, Taiwan Country Chair & General Representative of Gas, Renewables & Power for TotalEnergies. The event was concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Dr Lee Lou-chuang, Academician in the Institute of Earth Sciences at Academia Sinica (中央研究院地球科學研究所院士 李羅權).

In his presentation EA DDG Wu reiterated the government’s previously-announced 12 strategies to reach net zero. Importing, producing and deploying hydrogen is one of the strategies with the goal for hydrogen to account for 9-12% of Taiwan’s energy mix. A taskforce on hydrogen policy and development has been set up under the MOEA. It is led by a vice minister and comprises representatives from various government agencies as well as Taipower, CPC and China Steel. As one of the agencies in the taskforce, the EA is responsible for policy and regulations. The Department of Industrial Technology is in charge of technology development.

State-owned Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) is working on including hydrogen as part of the fuel mix to run power plants while Taiwan’s largest steel producer, China Steel Corporation, is exploring the use of hydrogen in steel production. In terms of electrolysis development, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is planning a small-scale facility to produce hydrogen from renewable energy in 2024. In addition, Academia Sinica trialled a small-scale methane pyrolysis micro gas turbine in 2023 (a process in which thermal energy is applied to methane to break the chemical bond between carbon and hydrogen, generating hydrogen gas and a solid carbon product with no CO2 emissions).

In terms of hydrogen infrastructure, CPC plans to build a hydrogen refuelling station for buses in 2024. The government is also conducting a feasibility study for a liquid hydrogen (LH2) receiving terminal for imported LH2. According to Wu, Kaohsiung harbour has been chosen as the location for the terminal. In terms of importing hydrogen, the EA is looking into sources from Australia and Japan. The agency is also exploring local production of hydrogen, although production of green hydrogen will depend on the availability of renewable energy, which is currently in short supply.

The speaker emphasised the importance of international collaboration to expand the sources of hydrogen supply and related infrastructure.

In his presentation, Olivier Letessier highlighted his company’s role in developing hydrogen energy technologies and infrastructure. The company has 60 years of experience in hydrogen production and has 1,000 employees engaged in hydrogen. Over 1,400 hydrogen related projects have been announced globally with total investments of US$570 billion and a target of US$610 billion by 2030.

TEAL Mobility is a 50/50 joint venture between Air Liquide and TotalEnergies which aims to develop hydrogen refuelling stations (under the TotalEnergies brand) on major European corridors, targeting heavy duty trucks. Air Liquide and Siemens Energy have a joint venture Gigawatt factory in Germany for the large-scale production of electrolysis stacks. Capacity is currently 1GW with a target to scale this up to 3GW by 2025. The company also has a partnership with Becancour Canada, which is the world's largest Proton exchange membrane (PEM) electroyzer in operation, which produces 8.2 tons of hydrogen per day, which is enough to power 10,000 cars, 16,000 forklifts, 275 buses or 230 large trucks. In Taiwan, Air Liquide built the world’s first ultra-high purity electrolyser plant for semiconductors and has plans to build five in total to meet the needs of the semiconductor industry in Taiwan. 

In his presentation, Thomas Ringmann highlighted some of Siemens Energy’s hydrogen initiatives. The company is investing approximately €1 billion annually in hydrogen R&D. In addition to projects such as the JV with Air Liquide focused on electrolysis (mentioned above), he noted that an increased number of the firm’s gas turbines are running with blends of hydrogen and natural gas. The EU-funded HyflexPower project demonstrated (in September 2023) that it is possible to use 100% hydrogen to power a gas turbine.

In Taiwan, Taipower has been actively developing new energy applications. The Hsinta Power Plant has successfully tested running on a blend of natural gas and 5-10% hydrogen without compromising operational efficiency. It is scheduled to be put into commercial operation at the end of the year with a blend of 5% hydrogen initially, with plans to increase this gradually to 15% in the future, depending on hydrogen supply. In order to advance hydrogen development, the speaker emphasised the need for political support in optimising the regulatory framework and offering market incentives, green certification and hydrogen infrastructure.

In his presentation, Laurent Chevalier cited his company’s 100-year history and aims to transition from a top 5 global oil and gas company to a top 5 electric company. The company is already investing heavily in renewable energy and integrated power solutions. As for hydrogen, the speaker outlined the major challenges facing hydrogen development. In particular, there is a lack of new technology and infrastructure at the industrial scale that will be necessary to ramp up the production, storage and transport of hydrogen. Accelerating the transition will require fast tracking new technologies across the entire chain. It will also be necessary to educate the public about the technology to address things like safety concerns. In addition, regulation is key to support the adoption of clean fuels, along with fair and consistent incentives. He noted that there are often cases where authorities begin by offering enthusiastic policy support and incentives, only to withdraw them later, making it difficult for industry to proceed with developing new and expensive technologies. At the same, given constant technological advances, we need to open to new ideas.

In addition to ongoing advances in batteries, there is also potential in the use of ammonia and e-methane, a synthetic gas produced from renewable hydrogen and recycled CO2. E-methane is a particularly promising technology but for it to be viable, it needs a stable supply of renewable energy and a workable business model, especially buyers willing to sign long-term contracts, which may require paying a premium. He stressed that energy must be affordable and that our collective challenge is to manage the transition to net zero without compromising growth.