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China’s hydrogen development plan for 2021-35 to accelerate to low-carbon society

China’s hydrogen development plan for 2021-35 to accelerate to low-carbon society

The Chinese government has laid out a medium and long-term development plan for hydrogen during 2021-2035, in response to its initiative to accelerate the country’s transformation to a low-carbon society.

Hydrogen energy is a component of China’s future national energy system and a key direction of strategic emerging industries, said China’s main economic planning body the NDRC.

“China will make full use of the clean and low-carbon features of hydrogen energy to promote a green and low-carbon transformation of energy consumption terminals, such as transportation and industrial segments, as well as industries with high energy consumption and high emissions,” the NDRC said.

China is targeting to bring 50,000 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles on to roads by 2025 and will build a number of hydrogen refuelling stations. It is also aiming for “green” hydrogen production using renewable feedstock resources to reach 100,000-200,000 tonnes/year by 2025, with a carbon reduction target of 1-2 million tonnes/year.

China produced 356 fuel-cell vehicles during January-February this year, up by 500pc from a year earlier, according to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) data. It produced 2,000 fuel-cell vehicles in 2021, up by 48% from the previous year. The country is expected to sell 5 million units of new energy vehicles this year, up by 42% in 2021, CAAM said.

The country aims to establish a complete technology innovation system for hydrogen and bolster production and supplies of clean hydrogen by 2030, in an effort to meet Beijing’s goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2060 and for carbon dioxide emissions to peak by 2030.

China also plans to develop a diversified application ecosystem of hydrogen energy by 2035, significantly increasing the proportion of hydrogen production that uses renewable feedstock resources in the country’s total energy consumption. More details were undisclosed.

China is the world’s largest producer of hydrogen, with most of it produced from fossil fuels and coal accounting for 62% of feedstock compared with 18% globally. Only 4pc of China’s hydrogen uses renewables-based electricity to convert water into oxygen and hydrogen by electrolysis. The country produced more than 21 million tonnes of hydrogen in 2019, out of 70 million tonnes produced globally.

Some Chinese energy firms and local governments have unveiled plans to accelerate hydrogen development in the past year. State-controlled refiner and hydrogen producer Sinopec began building a production facility for hydrogen used in hydrogen fuel cells in November in Qingdao, and a production plant for hydrogen in Kuqa city.

East China’s Zhejiang province last November said it will accelerate development of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in the next five years, aiming for 5,000 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to be used as buses and in port transportation and intercity logistics by 2025.

The country’s coal-focused Inner Mongolia region in August last year laid out plans to develop seven wind and solar power projects that could produce almost 67,000 tonnes/year of hydrogen, as part of a push to raise output to 500,000 tonnes/year by 2025.

Sustainable growth in hydrogen production is expected to boost long-term demand for metals, according to market participants, particularly rare earths, such as lanthanum and cerium used to make hydrogen catalysts, hydrogen purification materials, hydrogen storage and transportation materials and solid oxide fuel cells.

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