Last year, China sold 2,725 fuel cell vehicles, with total ownership of 10,728, breaking the 10,000 mark for the first time. According to Wang Yao, demand for fuel cell cars will shift from policy-driven to market-driven in the future; in the context of “dual carbon,” the optimum option is to complement electricity and hydrogen.
Hydrogen energy is thought to be the final answer to humanity’s issues of energy scarcity and environmental deterioration. My country has released a high-level design strategy for the growth of the hydrogen energy industry. It will undoubtedly contribute to the growth of the hydrogen fuel cell car sector. However, hydrogen fuel cell cars are still in their infancy and confront several obstacles. How should we perceive the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell automobiles correctly? Where should we begin to drastically lower its total cost in order to enhance its market penetration rate? Dr. Wang Yao, Assistant Secretary-General and Minister of Technology Department of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers was interviewed by Auto Aspect in response to similar concerns.
The National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration jointly issued the “Medium and Long-Term Plan for the Development of the Hydrogen Energy Industry (2021-2035)” (hereinafter referred to as the “Plan”) on March 23, 2022, proposing hydrogen energy as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. The fundamental policy and direction of industrial growth. What advantages will this have for the hydrogen fuel cell car industry’s development?
Wang Yao: The “Planning” serves as a catalyst for us to promote hydrogen energy and fuel cell cars in the transportation sector. My government planned in September 2020 to “strive to peak CO2 emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.” My country’s first national-level hydrogen energy sector development plan is called the “Plan.” It defines the energy and low-carbon features of hydrogen energy, which are crucial to realizing the dual-carbon objective, and clarifies the strategic positioning of hydrogen energy in the green and low-carbon transformation of my country’s energy. meaning.
Hydrogen fuel cell cars, being one of the most essential technological paths for new energy vehicles, are also the primary application scenarios for hydrogen energy at this time. In light of the advantages that “Planning” brings to the growth of the fuel cell car sector, I’ll focus on four points:
First, with the constant progress of the hydrogen energy sector, fuel cell commercial vehicles will take the lead in creating breakthroughs as a breakthrough and development emphasis.
Second, in the field of transportation, the “Plan” will promote the use of hydrogen fuel cells in medium and heavy vehicles, expand the market for hydrogen fuel cell trucks and other new energy passenger and freight vehicles in a systematic manner, and investigate the use of hydrogen fuel cells in ships, aircraft, and other fields. The demonstration application of fuel cell cars in the transportation field, as well as the pace of investigation and application in other sectors, will be accelerated by demonstration applications and the continued growth of the hydrogen energy application market in the transportation industry.
Third, the rate of development of hydrogen fuel cell cars will increase, resulting in cost savings, faster infrastructure building, and improved rules and policies, paving the way for the development of hydrogen fuel cell passenger vehicles. Base.
Fourth, a group of top Chinese automobile manufacturers will accelerate their deployment, grab the hydrogen fuel market potential, and aggressively develop and grow goods fit for China’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market. At the same time, it will boost the market position of my nation in the field of hydrogen fuel cell automobiles.
The energy efficiency ratio is king.
There are two conflicting viewpoints in the industry when it comes to the development of hydrogen fuel cell automobiles. Some people are hopeful about its development possibilities, while others are pessimistic. How should we think about hydrogen fuel cell car development?
Wang Yao: From the top-level design, the “New Energy Vehicle Industry Development Plan (2021-2035)” announced in 2020 explains that fuel cell cars are one of the “three verticals” of the new energy technology path. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have strong adaptability to low-temperature environments, short refueling time, high battery life, and the highest energy density, which is higher than lithium-ion electric vehicles and fuel vehicles, as the “carbon peak” and “carbon neutral” goals continue to be advanced. The goal to obtaining “carbon neutrality” is to get competitive benefits while achieving zero carbon emissions and no pollution. The development and promotion of hydrogen fuel cell cars will become an important technical path. In China, the number of hydrogen fuel cell automobiles is steadily growing. The rising number of owners implies that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are rapidly gaining market acceptance. Under the close supervision of state and municipal governments, it is expected that the development area for hydrogen fuel cell cars in my nation would steadily expand.
According to published data, China presently has over 10,000 hydrogen fuel cell automobiles. According to the “Medium and Long-Term Plan for the Development of the Hydrogen Energy Industry (2021-2035),” the hydrogen energy industry’s development aim is to have around 50,000 fuel cell automobiles by 2025. How should we assess the progress of hydrogen fuel cell car development?
My nation, Wang Yao, has the world’s largest market for fuel cell commercial vehicles. In 2021, my nation will sell 2,725 fuel cell vehicles, bringing the total number of vehicles to 10,728, surpassing 10,000 for the first time. My country’s fuel cell car sector has advanced significantly in recent years, particularly in terms of technological innovation and industrial chain development.
My country’s fuel cell car sector is currently at the demonstration and leading technological innovation stages, similar to the ten-city-thousand-vehicle stage of pure electric vehicle development in 2012. For commercial vehicles, there are presently no viable electrification alternatives, with the fuel cell solution being the most developed. In my nation, there are more than 50 million trucks, thus the future usage of fuel cell technologies will have a sizable market.
High costs are caused by two things.
According to the present market condition, the growth of hydrogen fuel cell cars makes many believe that marketization is still insufficient. What are your thoughts on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles becoming commercially available?
Wang Yao: My country’s hydrogen energy and fuel cell car sector has made it from zero to one after years of hard labor, and is now approaching a critical moment. It is now in its early stages of industrialization.
In recent years, China’s Yangtze River Delta, Greater Bay Area, and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei areas have done a lot of beneficial investigation and practice in demonstration and promotion, and the hunt for sustainable development application scenarios has accelerated. Commercial vehicle marketing will be greatly expedited in the future if the application scenario achieves a breakthrough.
China is the first country to use hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for commercial purposes, but what are the major roadblocks to widespread adoption in the passenger vehicle sector?
Wang Yao: Foreign fuel cell research and development began early, and the country now has a technological edge in passenger automobiles, with many mass-produced versions. Domestic passenger automobile technologies are still being debated, and small-scale demonstrations have begun. The main obstacles to the development of the passenger vehicle field are: first, the cost of manufacturing hydrogen fuel cell passenger vehicles is too high; infrastructure is the second obstacle to the development of hydrogen fuel cell passenger vehicles; it cannot be overlooked that passenger vehicles have higher technical maturity requirements for related parts and components, making promotion more difficult; another is national policy. Currently, hydrogen fuel cell vehicle demonstrations are centered on the domains of public transit and logistics. What is clear is that the situation in my nation for hydrogen fuel cell passenger automobiles is improving. In the long term, with the progressive growth of the size of demonstration operations and additional cost reductions, hydrogen fuel cell passenger vehicles will soon be available to the general public.
The high cost of hydrogen fuel cell cars is one of the major obstacles to their development. Where can a significant decrease in the overall cost of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles be found in the future?
Wang Yao: The high cost can be shown in two ways: On one side, the system is expensive. This is mostly due to the high cost of independent research and development, which is influenced by the lack of large-scale batch application of core critical components and is difficult to accept by the market. Hydrogen, on the other hand, is costly. Using a 49-ton tractor as an example, a diesel vehicle’s fuel cost per kilometer is between 1.8 and 2.3 yuan, whereas a hydrogen fuel cell tractor’s hydrogen use every 100 kilometers is around 12kg, resulting in a hydrogen cost per kilometer of 7.8 yuan. 2 yuan to 8.4 yuan Because of the high cost of hydrogen, fuel cell cars are much more expensive than traditional energy vehicles, making it hard to create a healthy development ecology for long-term development.
To address the issue of high system costs, regional leading companies should be encouraged to grow the scale of fuel cell car applications and promotion, lowering system costs through scale advantages. Simultaneously, through the large-scale application, the confidence of hydrogen production enterprises in the region in the region’s energy demand for the fuel cell market will be improved, and the retail price of hydrogen will be reduced through technological innovation, allowing the price of hydrogen per kilogram to drop to 35 yuan or even below 25 yuan as soon as possible, thereby supporting my country’s fuel economy. The battery automobile sector is thriving.
Electro-hydrogen complimentary is the best solution.
What advancements in the development of hydrogen fuel cell cars are required now and in the future?
Wang Yao: Enterprises have boosted R&D and innovation in the last three years as a result of the state and local governments’ increased attention, and the rate of independence has continued to climb. Fuel cell systems, hydrogen circulation systems, air compressors, stacks, membrane electrodes, and bipolar products such as boards can all match the current batch application needs of commercial cars, as well as explore applications in public transit, logistics, and other industries. Next, policy advances must be made, particularly in terms of safety, such as the creation of safe distances between hydrogen refueling stations and the upkeep of onboard hydrogen storage tanks. In order to ensure safety, policy advances must be accelerated, and hydrogen energy sector standards must be established and improved. system. At the fundamental material level, it is critical to continue to expedite research and development advances, particularly in proton exchange membranes, catalysts, and carbon paper. The application is the most crucial factor. To accelerate the industrialization of fuel cell vehicles in my nation and aspire to become an electric alternative to replace diesel vehicles, it is vital to investigate a variety of business models, cut product prices, and expand the scope of marketing.
What are your hopes for hydrogen fuel cell cars’ eventual development?
Wang Yao: Hydrogen energy and fuel cell businesses have steadily gained significance and have become a key strategy for national energy development thanks to the backing of national and municipal authorities. The development of fuel cell vehicles will help my nation reduce its reliance on imported energy, reduce pollution, and replace diesel vehicles. However, in the early stages of industrial development, when faced with issues such as a weak material foundation, high costs, a lack of technical equipment, and the inability to expand the scale of promotion, it is believed that my country’s fuel cell vehicle industry will develop faster with the support of national planning and demonstration policies.
Fuel cell car demand will progressively shift from policy-driven to market-driven in the future. A healthy market ecological closed loop will be driven by the powerful hydrogen cost in locations with good resource endowments, and the commercialization and sustainable development model of the integrated application of new fuel cell car technologies and novel formats will be investigated. Electro-hydrogen complementation is the optimum answer in the setting of “two carbons.” In my nation, the electrification of passenger vehicles is mostly based on lithium battery technologies. Commercial cars may rely on hydrogen fuel cells for electrification solutions as a breakthrough in the whole hydrogen fuel cell sector, lowering overall costs.