The northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia is swiftly taking steps to regulate grey hydrogen production, which relies on fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal as feedstock.

The regional government has issued a decree aimed at curbing fossil fuel-based hydrogen production, which currently amounts to about 1.3 million tonnes per annum, all derived from coal or natural gas.

The new decree emphasises the development of hydrogen production from renewable-energy sources while strictly limiting hydrogen production from fossil fuels.

This effort by Inner Mongolia reflects China’s broader strategy to promote sustainable and eco-friendly hydrogen production, moving away from fossil fuel-based methods to support its commitment to combat climate change.

Grey hydrogen, produced by steam methane reformation without capturing greenhouse gases, is essentially the same as blue hydrogen but lacks carbon capture and storage technology.

Inner Mongolia is a major coal producer in China with output last year hitting 1.22 billion tonnes, accounting for 28% of the country’s total, making hydrogen production from coal an attractive option for local businesses in the context of energy transition.

However, this method emits greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile compounds and solid particles, contributing to global climate change.

The latest plan proposes the construction of up to 15 hydrogen production bases in the region, with the goal of boosting local hydrogen production to 1.6 million tpa by 2025, with green hydrogen accounting for more than 30%.

In the first half of this year, regional authorities approved 31 green hydrogen projects, including one investment by Sinopec.

The 2.59 billion yuan ($360 million) solar and wind-to-hydrogen project in Ordos city, Inner Mongolia, is set to produce 10,000 tpa of green hydrogen. The project will comprise four hydrogen plants connected to wind and solar grids with a total capacity of 76.5 megawatts.

Wind power capacity will reach 49.5 MW, comprising 10 units of 5 MW and one 4.5 MW unit, with an annual equivalent load of 2928 hours and annual power generation of 146.41 million kilowatt hours.

Photovoltaic power will be 270 MW, using 74 string-type fixed-support 3.2 MW square arrays and 443,156 pieces of 650-watt peak single-crystal silicon double-sided, double-glass modules.

The power generated will be used in hydrogen production plants equipped with 28 sets of 1000 cubic metres per hour alkaline electrolysers, three sets of gas-liquid separators, and four sets of 2000 cubic metres low-pressure storage tanks.

The resulting green hydrogen will be supplied to the local Zhongtian Hechuang Company for chemical production.

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