Hong Kong’s first hydrogen refueling station in Citybus West Kowloon Depot, built by Hans Energy Company, could be operational in as early as the first quarter of 2023. The station will be able to provide hydrogen refueling services for the world’s first tri-axle hydrogen fuel cell bus owned and operated by Citybus.
Bravo Transport Holdings, owner of Citybus and New World First Bus, and is 15.56-percent owned by Hans Energy Company, introduced the city’s first hydrogen fuel cell double-decker bus in July. Both Bravo Transport and Hans Energy is supporting Hong Kong’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050 through decarbonization of the city’s public transport.
But due to local climate, Hong Kong’s unique topography, the operational requirement for long distance, high frequency services and vehicle air-conditioning, as well as inadequate electric vehicle charging sites, battery-powered electric bus is not a viable option for achieving public transport decarbonization in Hong Kong.
Instead, hydrogen transport could be a practical solution given the local operating environment. Unlike the charging of electric-vehicle batteries that requires longer charging hours, the hydrogen refilling process can be completed in a few minutes. Most of the liquefied petroleum gas refilling stations can be upgraded into hydrogen refilling stations easily.
Hydrogen is a versatile, non-toxic and lightweight gas that can be stored, transported and converted into clean power. The Hydrogen Council – an international advisory body to foster long-term clean energy transition – expects global hydrogen demand to reach 546 million tonnes by 2050, up from the current 70 million tonnes, with a 6.4-percent annual growth rate.
A clean-green economy can be developed when hydrogen can feed into a range of applications, such as chemicals, transport, buildings or manufacturing, if produced on a large scale.
The business value chain generated by the adoption of hydrogen energy in green transport will involve research and development, production, transportation, storage, refilling and electricity generation. It will also involve different expertise such as electrical, power and chemical engineering that will create more types of jobs.
While the government is urged to do more to promote hydrogen transport through providing funding, fostering public and private sector collaboration, educating on the adoption of hydrogen energy, and introducing standards and regulations to cement a hydrogen economy value chain, it also should leverage on the R&D resources in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to get support in hydrogen energy supply, equipment and vehicle manufacturing.
In the Climate Action 2050, the SAR government envisions renewable energy’s share in the fuel mix for generating power to increase from less than 1 percent at present to between 7.5 percent and 10 percent by 2035, and jump to 15 percent subsequently.
It becomes clear that a more vigorous program of pushing decarbonization in energy sources is needed to enhance the ratio of renewable energy in the city’s fuel mix.
With Hong Kong set to spend HK$240 billion in the next two decades in various initiatives to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, energy source decarbonization not only does good to the environment, but also presents an opportunity to create new business value chains, produce more jobs, elevate the R&D standard, and diversify the economy.
Oswald Chan is a veteran business journalist and joined China Daily as a senior business news reporter in 2010. He covers various issues pertinent to the development of Hong Kong economy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .