World's biggest solar company joins the hydrogen game

China's Longi Green Energy Technology Co., the world's largest photovoltaics manufacturer, is now entering the hydrogen market, slated for major global growth and increasingly seen by Beijing as a pivotal instrument in achieving massive domestic CO2 reductions by greening sectors ranging from steelmaking, transportation to energy storage.

Photo: Jianan Yu/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

China’s Longi Green Energy Technology Co., the world’s biggest solar company, is entering the hydrogen market, industry publication Solarzoom reported.

Xi’an Longi Hydrogen Technology Co. was registered March 31 in China, according to Solarzoom. Longi’s billionaire founder and president, Li Zhenguo, is serving as the company’s chairman, and the shareholders are Xi’an Longi Green Energy Venture Capital Management Co. and Shanghai Zhuqueying Private Equity Investment Fund Partnership.

Longi didn’t respond to emailed requests for comment. The firm, which manufactures wafers, cells and panels, is the world’s largest solar company by market capitalization, at about USD 52bn as of Friday’s close. Shares rose as much as 4.9 percent on Tuesday morning in Asia.

Energy companies are increasingly turning to hydrogen as a possible carbon-free fuel that could be produced by electrolysis of water powered by renewable energy, and then stored and transported and used in everything from cars to electrical generators to steel mills.

Most industrially used hydrogen is currently made using fossil fuels, a cheaper form of production than electrolysis but one that leaves a carbon footprint. Figuring out how to scale up and reduce costs of cleaner hydrogen output is one of the best chances the world has at avoiding the worst impacts of climate change while maintaining the trappings of modern life.

In an interview last year, Li said a combination of solar and storage would be the cheapest form of energy in most nations globally by the end of the decade. He also said his company plans for the long term.

“We don’t only look at today, but also three, five years later or even eight or 10 years later,” he said. “After finding the direction, we don’t begrudge money on research and development.

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