In November 2022, the liquid solar energy technology developed by Can Li and his team was shortlisted by IUPAC as one of the Top 10 Emerging Technologies in Chemistry for 2022. IUPAC is an organization committed to presenting new technologies with immense potential for sustainable development.
By simulating the process of photosynthesis, the technology generates methanol with solar power, H2O, and CO2, which can serve as an intermittent renewable energy storage bank. IUPAC considers it a strategy towards “bottled renewable resources” and green chemical products.
Ke Liu, Foreign Fellow at ASTE and Dean of the School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southern University of Science and Technology, argued that the key to carbon emission reduction lies in energy mix modification, and green methanol converted from wind and solar power would be the best solution to it.
Green methanol is the most important downstream application of green hydrogen and a critical link in cutting down global carbon emissions. Green hydrogen consumption: In 2020, China produced 49.48 million tonnes of methanol with more than 6 million tonnes of hydrogen. However, most of the hydrogen was coal-gasification-based. If it can be replaced with green hydrogen, low-carbon-based methanol will be made possible.
Low-cost storage and transportation of hydrogen: Methanol is able to lower the cost of hydrogen production, storage, transportation, and filling. It is hydrogen-rich, safe, clean, and can be easily stored, which makes it a natural carrier. In recent years, methanol has been enjoying a rapidly growing popularity. Full-cell vehicles based on methanol reforming hydrogen production and a one-stop solution for production and filling at hydrogen stations are both good examples.
Low-cost-based methanol: Green methanol application is currently subject to factors such as green hydrogen prices and energy conversion efficiency. With that being said, as hydrogen production technologies become more sophisticated and the price of green electricity becomes more affordable, green methanol will see a sharp drop in its cost and a wider range of applications.
Data: China Hydrogen Energy Application Technology and Project Annual Report 2022