China is the largest electric-vehicle maker and market in the world. But China doesn’t only bet on EVs. They are actively developing other alternative energy sources for vehicles as well. One of those is hydrogen. Where many consider hydrogen a lost-cause, China goes all-in, led by the central government. Chinese companies are creating hydrogen production, technology, charging infrastructure, and hydrogen-powered vehicles (FCEVs) of all sorts. What is going on?
What is hydrogen?
The basics: Hydrogen is a chemical element, a colorless, odorless, flammable gas that combines chemically with oxygen to form water: the lightest of the known elements. Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe. Most of the hydrogen on our planet exists in molecular forms such as water and organic compounds. There is a lot of debate about hydrogen’s credentials as a ‘green’ fuel. This mainly depends on the way it is made. There are several ways to produce hydrogen commercially, including:
- Steam methane reforming (SMR): producing hydrogen from natural gas. This is the cheapest and most common way of producing hydrogen today.
- Coal gasification: producing hydrogen from coal.
- Methane pyrolysis: producing hydrogen from methane, the primary component of natural gas.
- Electrolysis: using electricity to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen.
Only the last method can be seen as green, as it uses only water to extract hydrogen from, instead of gas or coal. However, the true cleanliness also depends on how the energy was created that was used for the production process. Some have tried to classify the different methods, based on the use of renewable resources and carbon emissions. One common classification divides hydrogen in three sorts:
- High-carbon gray hydrogen: produced from fossil fuels, such as coal, generating carbon dioxide. Creates massive carbon emissions.
- Low-carbon blue hydrogen: uses carbon capture and storage for the greenhouse gasses generated in the creation of gray hydrogen. Creates less carbon emissions.
- Zero-carbon green hydrogen: uses renewable energy, such as wind power, photovoltaic electricity and hydro power, to produce hydrogen. Creates no carbon emissions.
Hydrogen production worldwide, and in the US.
Before we travel to China, let’s have a quick look at some other numbers: Worldwide hydrogen production in 2020 was about 70 million tons. Of this, 76% was produced from natural gas via SMR, 22% was produced using coal gasification, and only 2% was made using electrolysis. The US produces about 10 million tons of hydrogen per year; 99% comes from fossil fuels, 95% from natural gas, 4% via coal gasification, and 1% via electrolysis.
Producing hydrogen is expensive, but producing green hydrogen is crazily expensive. According to a report by the US Department of Energy, producing one kilo of hydrogen with SMR costs $2.08. Coal gasification is even cheaper, at $1.34. Electrolysis? From wind: $5.96. Solar: $13. Only 60% of hydrogen made in the US is produced by dedicated hydrogen plants, the rest is a by-product produced by other industrial sectors.
Usage – in general
Vehicles compromise only a fraction of usage of hydrogen. The stuff is used for a whole lot of other applications and most are not exactly clean. Hydrogen is mainly used for refining petroleum, treating metals, producing fertilizer, and processing foods.
Hydrogen in Vehicles
A hydrogen vehicle is a vehicle that uses hydrogen fuel for motive power. There are two kinds of hydrogen-powered vehicles.
- Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs): Reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to charge a battery that powers an electric motor that in turn powers the wheels. These vehicles produce no tailpipe emissions. In the US, there are only two FCEVs on the market today: the Hyundai Nexo Fuel Cell and the Toyota Mirai.
- Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles (HICEVs). Burning hydrogen in an internal combustion engine that powers the wheels. HICEVs don’t use a fuel cell but they produce nitrogen oxides emissions.
The good and the bad
Proponents and opponents of hydrogen have a lot of battleground to cover. Generally speaking, what are the goods and what are the bads?
- No vehicle emissions.
- Fast charging.
- Long range.
- Complex and thus expensive to build.
- Complex and thus expensive to maintain.
- Most hydrogen fuel is made from nonrenewable natural gas.
- Safety issues: the cars, the transportation, the storage.
- The not-so small matter of building an entirely new infrastructure.
Hydrogen in China: Overview
In 2020, China announced its ambition of peaking carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. Hydrogen is to play an important role in making good on this pledge. China is already the largest producer of hydrogen in the world, making about 33 million ton in 2021. Some 80% of this number is produced using natural gas and coal, 1-2% is green from water electrolysis, and the rest is produced as a by-product by other industrial sectors.
The China Hydrogen Alliance (CHA), an industry association, has estimated that China’s hydrogen production will hit 43 million tons in 2030, and that hydrogen demand will reach 60 million tonnes by 2050. The association also expects that the share of green hydrogen will rise to 10% of hydrogen production by 2030. The main uses for hydrogen in China are sectors like petrochemicals, ammonia production, steel making, and construction. Currently, hydrogen vehicles use only 1% of China’s annual hydrogen production. But China has ambitious plans to create an fleet of hydrogen trucks, buses, taxis, and, to a lesser extent, passenger cars.
The Chinese government is heavily involved in pushing hydrogen. And pushing comes with planning. In China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), hydrogen was billed as one of China’s six most important sectors for the future. Based hereon, the outlines for the development of the sector were further specified in a 15-year plan for the 2021-2035 period. These long-term development plans are usually written by a combination of industry associations, local governments, R&D institutes, and relevant departments of the central government. Some plans are years in the making, with hundreds of meetings and consultations.
A Chinese development plan is thus definitely not, as often thought in the West, a directive by the central government that all have to follow. On the contrary, plans are often compromises, with a little bit in it for everybody. But, after a plan is indeed approved, it does set the direction for an industry, and the industry is expected to take steps to follow up. The actual implementation of a plan usually lies with local governments, at provincial or city level. This always leads to quite some waste, because every local government will inevitably start its own projects to implement a plan, aiming for subsidies and goodwill from the high-above. This ranges from R&D centers, special economic zones, investment funds, foreign takeovers, and factories. The central government is well-aware of this but generally considers it a price worth paying as long as the results eventually hit the target, so this waste is seen as a necessary evil of sorts.
The hydrogen plan includes the following targets:
- By 2025, China wants to have a “relatively complete hydrogen energy industry development system”, able to independently innovate, develop, and manufacture.
- By 2025, annual hydrogen production from renewable energy has to reach 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes.
- By 2025, China wants to have about 50,000 hydrogen-fueled vehicles on the road. To put that into some perspective: Between 2015 and 2021, China produced about 9,200 fuel-cell vehicles.
- By 2035, China wants the proportion of hydrogen produced from renewable energy in terminal energy consumption to “increase significantly”.
The hydrogen plan is vague by design, more an outline than a detailed plan. But that may change in the future. When the hydrogen industry and expertise grows, follow-up plans will likely be more detailed. As always, it didn’t take long for local governments to get into business. Almost every province in China has included hydrogen projects in their own long-term development plans. More than 120 green hydrogen projects are believed to be under development right now.
Planning for hydrogen vehicles in China
Whereas the plan for hydrogen is broad, China also makes more detailed plans for the car industry. For a better understanding of the usage of hydrogen in vehicles in China, we have to take a small step back in time. In 2009, China launched a national strategy for the development of clean vehicles. The plan had four main goals:
- Create a world-leading industry that would produce innovation, jobs and exports.
- Energy security to reduce dependence on oil, which China mainly imports from the Middle East.
- To reduce urban air pollution.
- To reduce China’s carbon emissions.
The strategy included a new term for clean cars: NEV, or New Energy Vehicle. In the 2009 strategy, the term included three categories: battery electric vehicles (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV). The strategy set a modest goal for 500,000 NEVs by 2012.
In 2010, China launched its infamous NEV subsidy program, where buyers of passenger and commercial vehicles got a large state-paid subsidy. This subsidy was further increased by various local subsidies and incentives. This added up to a total subsidy of half of a car’s price! With subsidies like that, it was no wonder that the program was wildly successful. The biggest gains were made with passenger cars, with city folks going on an NEV buying craze. It is here that China’s rapid NEV development truly started.
Famously, one of the main beneficiaries of the policy was BYD, a company that started as a battery maker and produced NEVs even before 2010.
Besides subsidies for consumers, central and local governments handed out money to any car maker willing to produce NEVs. This led to a boom in R&D, factories, and a zillion new cars. Not all went well, however. There were big fraud cases, mainly involving commercial vehicles. Also, many car makers rushed under-performing NEVs to the market before they were ready. Other car makers only produced small-batches for trials and demonstration projects. But hey, looking back today, those were just growing pains.
The strategy was updated in 2012. The most notable change was the exclusion of HEVs. This category was replaced by FCEVs. The goals were updated too: 500,000 PHEVs by 2015 and 5 million NEVs on the road by the end of 2020. Over the years since, the strategy has been changed and fine-tuned many a times. Subsidies went up and down, were allocated differently, pilot projects were launched, R&D moved from here to there, but the end goals remained the same. China almost made the NEV target set in 2012. In late 2020, the cumulative NEV number stood at 4.92 million. But that was with Covid. Without the pandemic, the 5 million would likely have been breached.
Also in 2020, the planners in Beijing launched a whole new 15-year NEV development plan for the 2021-2035 period. The plan was surprisingly quiet on hydrogen, announcing only the construction of a hydrogen fuel supply system and further support for the development of advanced hydrogen technology. In yet another plan announced the same year, the Chinese government allocated extra subsidies for the development of hydrogen vehicles and hydrogen supply chains in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong. China often uses larger cities as a kind of testing ground for new technology.
The main hydrogen producers in China are state-owned oil & gas companies. No surprise there, because, as we have seen, 80% of China’s hydrogen comes from gas and coal. Sinopec, one of China’s largest oil & gas companies, is betting heavily on hydrogen production, with plans to invest $4.6 billion. In 2021, the company claimed an annual hydrogen production capacity of 3.9 million tons. This makes it the largest Chinese producer, but the number makes up for just 11% of the total Chinese production capacity. However, the vast majority of this hydrogen is be produced from fossil fuels, either direct or as a byproduct.
Green Hydrogen production
Green hydrogen production is expensive in China as well as it is in the US. “The cost of producing green hydrogen is three to four times that of hydrogen production from fossil fuels”, according to an industry insider, who added: “As much as 70 percent of the cost of hydrogen production by electrolysis comes from high electricity costs.”
Aforementioned Sinopec is investing in green hydrogen as well, as a part of their larger $4.6 billion hydrogen investment plan. The green-hydrogen projects are still of a small scale, more pilot projects than serious production, but they are interesting nevertheless. One example is an upcoming 20,000 ton per year solar-based pilot project based in the city of Kuqa, in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Construction of the $470 million project got underway in November 2021. The project includes a hydrogen plant using the water-electrolysis production method and a solar power plant. The plant needs a lot of sun to operate: The solar-power station will have an installed capacity of 300MW and an annual power generation of 618 million kilowatt-hours. The plant is scheduled to start operations in mid 2023. Sinopec plans to produce 500.000 ton of green hydrogen by 2025. Companies from other sectors are getting interested too. For example, GCL, a large solar power company, plans to build 400,000 tonnes of green-hydrogen production capacity using solar or wind power. Another example is China Suntien Green Energy, a wind energy outfit, that is developing a wind-powered green hydrogen project.
Going to the moon
If planet earth isn’t able to supply enough hydrogen yet, why not look elsewhere? Chinese scientists are doing just that, and they are looking at the moon. In December 2020 China’s Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission brought home some intriguing samples. In May 2022, China published the results of the initial research on the moon samples. Scientists found that the sample contained “iron-rich and titanium-rich substances”. With this, they proposed a plan to “use lunar soil to electrolyze water from the moon and the astronauts’ life support system into oxygen and hydrogen”. This process would be powered by sunlight. The plan doesn’t sound totally thought out yet, as using water rocketed in from earth seems bit silly, but the plan may work if enough usable water is found on the moon itself.
Hydrogen transport and refueling stations
In April 2022, the Chinese government said that 250 hydrogen refueling stations had been build. That, according to China, is the highest number in the world, accounting for 40% of all hydrogen stations planet-wide. China is no stranger to grandiose claims but there might be some truth in it. The US has 48 stations, Germany has 91, and Japan about 160.
An interesting problem facing the development of Chinese hydrogen infrastructure has to do with the classification of hydrogen. In China, hydrogen is classified as a ‘hazardous chemical’, and not as an ‘energy source’, like gasoline or diesel. This means that every part of the storage and transportation chain has to be safeguarded more heavily, driving up costs. Hydrogen producers have been lobbying to change this classification for a while, but yet without result. Most of China’s hydrogen is transported by tanker truck. A solution would be pipelines, but creating a whole new pipeline infrastructure only for hydrogen is very costly as well.
Sinopec, which is also one of China’s largest petrol station operators, plans to have 1,000 hydrogen refueling stations by 2025. At the end of 2021, they had about a 100. Besides the oil majors, there are some smaller companies trying to get into the hydrogen business too. An interesting example is Hyfun, founded in 2016 and specializing in hydrogen stations. The company claims it operates 10 hydrogen stations with another 57 under construction.
China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), another major Chinese oil and gas company, is a bit behind. So far, they have only committed to 50 hydrogen stations “in the future” and the company operates just two stations now, with six more under construction. All over China, there are zillion of smaller pilot projects with one or two stations in industrial zones. These projects are often operated by joint ventures between local gas companies and truck makers.
The main component of an FCEV is the fuel cell. This is the device that actually creates the electricity, through an electrochemical reaction combining hydrogen and oxygen. Producing fuel cells is thus essential for developing the hydrogen sector. China’s main fuel cell system manufacturers are Sinosynergy, SinoHytec, and Refire. Their most powerful fuel cell systems are, respectively, the SynRoad H240 with 240 kW, the G120 with 120 kW, and the Prisma Mirror Star Twelve+ with 130 kW. Well, Refire surely wins the prize for the best name. All three companies sell fuel cell systems and related stuff to various Chinese vehicle makers. The SynRoad H240 is way more powerful than the others. According to the company, this unit can also be used to power trains, ships, and mobile power stations.
Dongfeng hydrogen-powered Covid-19 test-transportation trucks used during the recent Shanghai lock-down. The trucks are equipped with Refire fuel cell systems.
Toyota, with its long experience in making a FCEV, has shown interest in the Chinese market for fuel cell systems. In 2020, Toyota founded United Fuel Cell System R&D (Beijing), a fuel cell R&D company aimed at developing new fuel cell technology. The company is jointly owned between Toyota (65%), SinoHytec (15%), and four Chinese automakers with 5% each (FAW, Dongfeng, GAC and BAIC).
After this short [Editor’s Note: I’m guessing this is sarcastic, but who knows with Tycho – JT] introduction it is now time to have a look at some hydrogen vehicles. Like I explained in my previous article on electric trucks: China is a country with 1.4 billion folks and a trillion car makers that follow government strategies wherever they go. So it won’t be a surprise that Chinese car companies are pumping out a massive lot of FCEVs. To include them all I’d need a month and a terabyte but there ain’t that much time and space. I will thus focus on the coolest, the powerful, and the most interesting. I will only look at production cars only, not at concepts and prototypes, but small-batch production counts. This overview is divided by passenger cars, trucks, buses, and other stuff. China is already the third-largest FCEV market in the world, and the first market for fuel cell trucks and buses.
In 2020, 1,177 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were sold in China, down 57% from 2019, but that was a drop caused by Covid. A better checkpoint would be 2019, where China saw a production of 2,833 fuel cell vehicles and sales of 2,737 vehicles, a year-on-year increase of 85.5% and 79.2% respectively. At the end of 2019, the cumulative number of fuel-cell vehicles in China was about 6000 units. Add the 1,177 vehicles sold in 2020, and you’ll end up with a cumulative number of 7,177 at the end of 2020.
Compare that to the earlier mentioned target of 50.000 units on the road by 2025, and it becomes clear that China must hurry to get there in time. Sure, Covid caused a lot of damage to the entire Chinese car industry and the wider economy, but even in a perfect time that target would be hard to crack. Even the government appears to be a little skeptical, with industry experts carefully expressing some doubts about the pace of development of hydrogen. But the automobile industry steadily develops and launched new FCEVs. The latest edition of the Road Motor Vehicle Manufacturers and Products Announcement by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), a government catalogue listing upcoming vehicles, included 22 new FVECs.
Until last year, Chinese car makers used the obsolete European NEDC standard to indicate range for NEVs. That didn’t sit very well with the Chinese government, so they developed a home-grown standard called the China Light-Duty Vehicle Test Cycle (CLTC). This standard is not completely new, as it was originally developed for gasoline cars. But this standard has since been ‘converted’ for usage with NEVs. Most Chinese car makers have adopted the standard, but some still use both CLTC and NEDC.
FCEV and/or HICEV. As we have seen, only FCEVs are part of China’s NEV definition, so only these qualify for various NEV subsidies. But some Chinese car makers are also developing HICEVs.
FCEV passenger cars are still very rare in China. Over the last couple of years, many Chinese car makers have unveiled fancy FCEVs concepts, but only a very few are actually producing fuel cell cars. And in many cases, even when a company talks about production, it is actually more like trial production.
SAIC Roewe 950 Fuel Cell
Honorable mention for the Roewe 950 Fuel Cell. It was way ahead of its time, launched on the market in 2017. Roewe is a brand under SAIC. The 950 was a large sedan based on the 2010 SAIC-GM Buick LaCrosse. The FCEV version was developed by SAIC, it had a 36 kW fuel cell, a 110 kW electric motor, and a range of 350 kilometers NEDC. Roewe built 50 units for a demonstration project, and at the time it was seen as China’s most advanced hydrogen vehicle, which it was. SAIC commissioned a cool 1:16 (yes, 1:16 not 1:18) model of the FCEV, and I have one in my collection:
SAIC Maxus Euniq 7
Another one by Maxus; the Euniq 7 [Editor’s Note: Is that pronounced like “eunuch?” Can that be right? This might need a name change if it ever gets exported to English-speaking places, since people generally like to keep their genitals.] is a 7-seat MPV based on the Maxus G20 petrol-powered MPV. The electric motor has an output of 150 kW/310 Nm. The tanks can hold 6.4 kg of hydrogen, which can be refilled in 5 minutes. The hydrogen is stored in 3 tanks under the floor and is enough for a 605 km range. It is priced at a very decent 299.800 yuan or $44,660 USD.
Hongqi (Red Flag) was probably China’s best known car brand until NIO came along. The brand still makes those heavy state limousines, but they are going big into NEVs as well. The Hongqi H5-FCEV is a hyrogen-powered variant of the Hongqi H5 sedan, which, in turn, is based on the same platform as the third generation Mazda 6 (aka Atenza) sedan. The fuel cell has an output of 50 kW, the electric motor packs 140 kW, and it can take 4 kilo of hydrogen in two 70 Mpa storage tanks. It is a fast for an FCEV: 0-100 in 10 seconds and a 160 km/h top speed. Range is 520 kilometers. Hongqi made about two dozen of these cars for demonstration projects. The H5 will soon be replaced, the new car will likely get a FCEV version too.
Shenlan is a new NEV brand under Changan Auto, one of China’s largest car conglomerates, probably best known for their joint venture with Ford. Changan was also an early EV pioneer, producing their first electric taxi back in 2010. They have come a long way since, making a mix of sharply lined gasoline and electric cars. The Shenlan line was developed as a showcase for the company’s capabilities. The SL03 is Shenlan’s first car, unveiled in 2022. There are three versions: BEV, PHEV, and FCEV. The FVEC, designated SC7006AAAFCEV, will launch later this year. It is powered by a 160 kW electric motor and consumes 0.65 kg hydrogen per 100 kilometers. Changan claims a CLTC range of 700 kilometers.
GAC Aion LX Fuel Cell
Aion is an NEV brand under GAC, aka Guangzhou Auto, better known for their Trumpchi brand. Trumpchi is still around, making gasoline and NEV cars. Aion, however, is NEV only. The Aion LX Fuel Cell FCEV was unveiled in July 2020. It is based on the Aion LX BEV and specifically developed for a ride-hailing pilot project in Guangzhou. The car is powered by a 150 kW/350 NM electric motor. It has a hydrogen consumption of 0.77kg per 100 kilometers and an NEDC range of 650 kilometers. Refueling takes 3 to 5 minutes, according to GAC. The cars are operated by On Time, a ride-hailing business owned by GAC.
The bus market is slightly more consolidated than the truck market, with more nationwide operating companies and fewer brands. About 10 Chinese bus makers sell FCEV buses, mostly mini buses and city buses.
SAIC Maxus FCV80
Maxus is a brand under SAIC. Originally a commercial vehicle brand, but they recently moved into passenger cars and people carriers. The FCV80 is light bus with up to 14 seats. It was launched in 2018 and currently sells for a cool 1.3 million yuan, or 190.000 USD. But various subsidies get that down to about half. The fuel cell has 30 kW, the electric motor 100 kW/350Nm, and it has a 14.3 kWh battery. It carries 4.4 kilo of hydrogen in two 100 liter bottles with 35 MPa. Range is 305 kilometers.
Yutong Fuel Cell Bus
Yutong Bus is one of China’s best known bus makers, part of the larger Yutong Group. The company was early to the hydrogen game, launching their first FCEV bus back in 2012. The current FCEV range was launched in 2018. The Yutong ‘ZK6126FCEVG’ can bus around 41 passengers Yutong came up with a nice line for their FCEV vehicles: “Zero emissions, hydrogen future”, very catchy indeed. The hydrogen tanks are stored in the roof of the bus, four at the front and four more at the rear, each carrying 140 liter. Specs: 120 kW electric motor, 105 kW battery, and an 80kW fuel cell. Yutong says they are developing an even larger 120 kW cell.
Farizon Auto is a brand under Geely New Energy Commercial Vehicle Group, itself a division of the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. Farizon makes a range of electric vans, minitrucks, heavy trucks, and buses. Their sole hydrogen bus is the Farizon C12F , a 44-seat city bus with a range of 500 kilometers. It is powered by an 80 kW fuel cell mated to a 121 kWh battery mated to a 120 kW electric motor mated to 1120 liters of hydrogen. The C12F was one of the official hydrogen buses during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, where it apparently proved its worth in sub-zero temperatures.
The Chinese truck market is still heavily fragmented, with hundreds truck makers competing. Only a few large brands operate truly nationwide, many of the smaller brands only sell in and around their home provinces. The central government has tried to consolidate the sector, so far without much success. About a dozen Chinese truck makers offer hydrogen powered tractor trailers, dump trucks, and chassis. The hydrogen tanks are stored behind the cabin, at exactly the same place where most of China’s electric trucks store their battery packs.
King Long KT610 Fuel Cell Tractor
King Long (Golden Dragon) is a large Chinese bus and truck maker. Their King Long KT10 FCEV is China’s best selling hydrogen-powered tractor trailer. In 2021, the company sold about 250 units. The electric motor has 200 kW coupled to a 110 kWh battery pack. King Long claims a range of 300 kilometers.
Truck maker Sany makes several FCEVs, including dump trucks, cement mixers, and tractor trailers. The Sany 420 Hydrogen Fuel Dump Truck is a powerful machine. The electric motor pumps out 355 kW and 2400 Nm. The motor gets juice from a CATL 127 kWh battery. The fuel cell is is sourced from Refire, it has a peak power output if 111 kW. The Type III 35Mpa hydrogen tanks are stored behind the cabin, at exactly the same place where most of China’s electric trucks store their battery packs. Combined storage capacity is 1680 liter of hydrogen. Sany claims a range of “300-400” kilometers and a 85 km/h top speed.
Sinotruck Yellow River X7 FCEV
Sinotruck is one of China’s largest truck-making conglomerates, selling truck under dozens of brands. One of those brands is Yellow River, a storied name with a long history. With the new Yellow River X7 FCEV they charge into the uncertain hydrogen future. It is based on a diesel tractor but it looks quite wild for a Chinese truck, with a streamlined cabin and an angry face. It packs a 162 kWh fuel cell and a 240 kW electric motor, good for a 89 km/h top speed.
Hydrogen-powered locomotives make a lot of sense. Most of China’s freight trains are pulled by old-school diesel locs, and those are stinky. The locomotive is made by train maker CRRC Datong, based in Datong City, Shanxi Province. It has an output of 700 kW and a top speed of 80 km/h. The locomotive can operate continuously for 24.5 hours, with a max towing load of 5000 ton, according to the manufacturer.
Three Gorges Hydrogen Boat No. 1
Three Gorges Hydrogen Boat No. 1 is a 50-meter hydrogen workboat build by a joint venture between China Yangtze Power and the China Shipbuilding No. 712 Research Institute, and designed and developed by the Wuhan Changjiang Ship Design Institute. All well-known companies in the Chinese shipbuilding industry, which is perhaps worth another story. The Three Gorges Hydrogen Boat No. 1 is powered by a 500 kW (!) fuel cell, good for a maximum speed of 28 kilometers per hour and a range of 200 kilometer. The image is a designrendering but construction of the real thig started in May.
And we end this overview with a tractor. The ET504-H was developed by the National Institute of Agro-machinery Innovation and Creation (CHIAIC) and jointly built wit tractor maker YTO. The ET504-H has an electric drive motor in the middle, complemented by independent electric lifting and steering motors. The motor has an output of 50 hp for a 30 km/h top speed. It is equipped with 5G connectivity and is able to operate either autonomous or remote controlled. The parties involved are considering mas production.
China believes in hydrogen, so much is certain. A lot is happening with hydrogen production, green hydrogen, infrastructure, and new vehicles. China is already the largest hydrogen producer and the largest hydrogen vehicle market in the world, a comfortable position push further growth. But China will run into the same problems as anyone does: hydrogen is expensive, dangerous, not easy to store, and hydrogen vehicles are complex. One may also wonder if the hydrogen push doesn’t distract China too much from its EV push, which is a technology that makes so much more sense, and China is the largest market and producer of electric vehicles too. Well… It just seems that China wants to be the biggest in everything, no matter if it makes sense, no matter what it costs. Besides EVs and FCEVs, the country is also betting on methanol and LNG. More on those technologies in later posts.