China’s path to a decarbonized economy is complicated by its abundance of hard-to-abate industries like the production of iron, steel, and cement. But new research finds that clean hydrogen could break the bottleneck.
Thirty-one percent of Chinese emissions come from heavy industry, significantly higher than the global average of 23%. This will make it challenging for the country to meet its pledges to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Simply instituting energy-efficient technology won’t be enough, says Xi Yang, a research associate with Harvard Univ.’s Harvard-China Project on Energy, Economy, and Environment. For instance, improving energy efficiency in the cement sector might only reduce the sector’s emissions by 8%. New technology will be needed, Yang says.
Yang and her colleagues modeled scenarios for China to reach its decarbonization goals, focusing especially on “hard-to-abate” sectors, which include the heavy industry and heavy transport that will be difficult to electrify, as well as chemical processes that use fossil fuels as feedstock. Using a modeling framework called China-MAPLE (Multi-Abatement Planning and Long-term Energy system optimization in China), they...
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