英文

Editorial : Hydrogen Development Requires GBA Support and Road Map

【明報專訊】The government has published a Strategy of Hydrogen Development in Hong Kong. Apart from promoting pilot plans, the government will submit a law amendment proposal to the Legislative Council in the first half of next year to provide a legal basis for hydrogen production, use, supply and so on.

Facing a profound climate change crisis, the world must reduce carbon and pollutant emissions to achieve sustainable development. Hydrogen, which after combustion produces only water vapour but not carbon dioxide or pollutants, has the potential to replace traditional fossil fuels in the long run. According to the International Energy Agency, more than 40 countries had formulated strategies for hydrogen energy development as of last year.

Among neighbouring Asian countries, both Japan and South Korea announced a hydrogen energy development road map in 2019. South Korea even adopted the world's first hydrogen energy law in 2021, with aims to create 500 hydrogen energy companies and 660 hydrogen refuelling stations, as well as to manufacture 500,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for export by 2030.

In Mainland China, a strategic plan for the hydrogen energy industry was proposed in 2019. The Medium and Long Term Plan for the Development of Hydrogen Industry two years ago went further to set stage targets, including basic mastery of core technologies, and an annual production of 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen from renewable energy by 2025. By 2030, the target is to establish more comprehensive systems of hydrogen industry technological innovation and green hydrogen supply, while contributing to "peaking" carbon emissions. By 2035, the goal is to form a diversified application ecosystem for hydrogen energy, with a significant increase in the proportion of green hydrogen in the public's energy consumption.

Compared to Mainland China, Japan and Korea, Hong Kong's hydrogen energy policies surely fall behind. The SAR Government established the Inter-departmental Working Group on Using Hydrogen as Fuel two years ago to study hydrogen energy policies. At long last, the Strategy of Hydrogen Development in Hong Kong was announced this week. The authorities said they have approved 14 pilot projects to date and will create an environment conducive to the development of hydrogen energy in Hong Kong in an orderly manner.

Hydrogen makes up 50% of the town gas supplied in Hong Kong. Towngas is currently testing the technology of extracting hydrogen directly from town gas pipelines. Given its fully fledged gas supply network, the extraction can actually be an advantage to Hong Kong's future hydrogen development.

No doubt the Hong Kong market is too small, and there will inevitably be more constraints if the city develops hydrogen energy on its own. As the mainland develops new quality productive forces, the promotion of hydrogen energy is no empty talk. In the Greater Bay Area, Foshan is very much ahead of the game. The SAR government can lean more on the Greater Bay Area and deepen cooperations on hydrogen energy.

Given the many uncertainties of green hydrogen in aspects such as price competitiveness, the SAR authorities have emphasised that some flexibility should be maintained concerning the scale and speed of hydrogen energy development in Hong Kong, adding that in this stage the legal framework and standards should be formulated first. This is of course understandable. However, at a time when neighbouring regions and cities are intensively planning and making advances at full throttle, the SAR government's over-emphasis on the need to "wait and see" might cause Hong Kong to fall further behind and miss out on opportunities. The Strategy of Hydrogen Development is only a start. The authorities should formulate a more specific hydrogen energy development road map and timetable as soon as possible.

明報社評2024.06.18:發展氫能借力大灣區 及早制定具體路線圖

政府發表《香港氫能發展策略》,除了推進試驗計劃,明年上半年將向立法會提交修例建議,為氫氣生產、使用、供應等提供法律基礎。

氣候變化危機深重,全球可持續發展,減碳減排必不可少。氫燃燒後只產生水蒸氣,不會排放二氧化碳或污染物,具備長遠替代傳統化石燃料的潛力。根據國際能源署的資料,截至去年,全球已有40多個國家就氫能發展制定策略。

放眼亞洲鄰國,日本和韓國都於2019年公布氫能發展路線圖,韓國更在2021年通過世界首部氫能專法,目標在2030年建立500家氫能公司、660個加氫站及生產50萬輛氫燃料電池汽車出口。

內地方面,2019年提出了氫能產業策略規劃,前年的《氫能產業發展中長期規劃》,進一步定下階段目標,包括2025年基本掌握核心技術,來自再生能源的綠色氫能,每年產量達到10萬至20萬噸;2030年形成較為完備的氫能產業技術創新體系及綠氫供應體系,協助同期實現「碳達峰」;2035年形成氫能多元應用生態,綠氫在民眾能源消耗中的比例明顯提升。

與內地及日韓相比,本港氫能政策起步無疑姍姍來遲。特區政府前年成立氫能跨部門工作小組,着手研究氫能政策。及至本周,《香港氫能發展策略》終於出爐。當局表示迄今同意了14個試驗項目,未來將有序營造有利本地氫能發展的環境。

本港煤氣供應中有一半成分為氫氣,煤氣公司現正試驗從煤氣管直接提取氫的技術,考慮到本港已有非常完備的供氣網絡,這其實可以是未來發展氫能的一個優勢。

當然,香港市場規模太小,單靠一己之力發展氫能,掣肘難免較多。內地發展新質生產力,推動氫能絕非紙上談兵。放眼大灣區,佛山便跑得相當快相當前,特區政府可以多些借力大灣區,深化氫能合作。

鑑於綠氫在價格競爭力等方面仍有很多不確定性,特區當局強調,本港氫能發展的規模和速度,需要保留一定彈性,現階段應先制訂法律框架和標準,這當然可以理解,然而當周邊地區及城市都在密密部署、全速推動,特區政府太強調「睇定些才做」,結果可能「愈墮愈後」,錯失良機。現在的《氫能策略》只屬起步,當局應早日制定更具體的氫能發展路線圖及時間表。

■ Glossary 生字 /

conducive to (sth) : making it easy, possible or likely for sth to happen

ahead of the game : ahead of one's competitors or peers in the same sphere of activity

at full throttle : as fast or as much as possible

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