Chinese yard CIMC Raffles is quickly diversifying its operations from traditional offshore engineering to green energy, and adapting itself technically to carbon-free products in its efforts to help the world’s second-largest energy consumer reduce its carbon footprint.

The yard has grouped its talent pool in Shenzhen and Yantai cities to launch research and development for a complete offshore hydrogen energy solution and is ready to tap international expertise to bring the blueprint to reality.

A long-term strategy calls for CIMC Raffles to produce green hydrogen using electrolysers powered by offshore wind energy to split the hydrogen from desalinated seawater.

The ultimate goal is to provide a complete offshore hydrogen energy solution, which will include technologies for hydrogen production integrated with offshore wind farms and offshore photovoltaics, as well as hydrogen transportation via subsea pipelines.

There are even plans for schemes to establish offshore hydrogen chemical plants turning hydrogen into green ammonia or green methanol for better storage and shipping. In the form of ammonia or methanol, hydrogen can also provide a solution to long-distance shipping and maritime transportation.

CIMC Raffles has already taken a major step towards becoming a provider of alkaline electrolysis systems for the production of green hydrogen, which is made using electrolysis — splitting water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen — powered by renewable energy to create an emissions-free fuel.

Last week, the yard, via its hydrogen-geared subsidiary GH2 Technology, kicked off construction of alkaline electrolysis green hydrogen at its hydrogen production base in Yangzhou city of eastern China’s Jiangsu province.

The single-stack alkaline electrolysis system is designed to produce 1200 nominal cubic metres (Nm3) of hydrogen per hour with purity of 99.999%.

The energy efficient electrolyser features a cell stack power consumption as low as 4.3 kilowatt hours per Nm3, said to reduce operating costs by 10% to 20%.

The alkaline electrolyser that is compact weighs 39.8 tonnes, 20% to 30% lighter than a normal electrolyser, according to CIMC Raffles.

The highly active non-precious metal electrodes, hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER) are pore-formed by traditional nickel-catalysed thermal spraying.

GH2 Technology is now technically capable of producing 2000 Nm3/h of hydrogen, which is expandable to 3000 Nm3 per hour in future.

Last year, GH2 Technology acquired Yangzhou Chungdean Hydrogen Equipment, which specialises in hydrogen-related equipment fabrication.

The Yangzhou base is now equipped to produce 1 gigawatt of green power via electrolyser-based hydrogen. Two more bases will be built in Shenzhen and Yantai, which will boost total green power capacity to between 5 GW and 10 GW by 2025.

CIMC Raffles president Wang Jianzhong said: “CIMC will continue to develop more efficient, intensive, productive and economical electrolyser products to help achieve the national goals of carbon emission peak in 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2060.

“Bearing in mind our ambition of ‘hydrogen coming from the sea’, CIMC Raffles will play its role in the country’s ocean development strategy.

“By tapping our advantages in offshore fabrication and driven by our track records of having delivered key offshore facilities for China, we have developed and launched hydrogen production equipment and [a] complete technology scheme, and continued to write [a] brilliant chapter in hydrogen energy.”

A recent study by China Hydrogen Alliance shows that Chinese businesses have plans to build 161 green hydrogen projects, of which 12 have been put into production with a capacity of 2.31 million tonnes per annum. Another 22 are being built.

The study says China’s demand for hydrogen will increase to 35 million tpa in 2030, growing to 60 million tpa by 2050, when it will account for 10% of the energy-demand mix.

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