China’s hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) are likely to be cost competitive in 2030 with conventional vehicles driven by gasoline or gasoil, Jiang Ning, chief expert with Sinopec Marketing, stated Nov. 8.

Register Now “By 2025, when green hydrogen [renewables-based hydrogen] cost is expected to be lower than Yuan 30/kg [approx. $4.69/kg] and gasoil price [would be] around Yuan 6.7/Lite [74 cents/Liter before taxes], hydrogen-powered trucks’ fuel cost will be competitive against gasoil-fueled ones,” Jiang said, sharing the results from the company’s recent study.

He noted that hydrogen fuel costs below Yuan 34/kg (about $5.32/kg) imply fuel cost parity with petroleum by 2030, when the purchasing costs of FCEVs are nearly identical to those of petroleum-fueled vehicles due to technological advancements.

The present price of hydrogen fuel is around Yuan 40-70/kg (approximately $6-11/kg), which is still much higher than the price of diesel and petroleum, Jiang explained, adding that existing hydrogen supplies are primarily derived from fossil fuels.

In late September, Shanghai Petrochemical, a Sinopec subsidiary, opened a hydrogen supply station in Shanghai, supplying hydrogen at a price of roughly Yuan 40/kg. In late March, a senior official with Shanghai Petrochemical claimed the price was about similar to the cost of gasoline for a 100-kilometer drive when oil is around $65/b. However, due to the higher cost of FCEVs and a lack of hydrogen recharging stations, the center can only supply public transportation vehicles, according to the senior official.

S&P Global Platts evaluated Japanese hydrogen SMR without CCS at $5.72/kg on Nov. 8, while Japanese hydrogen PEM electrolysis was valued at $8.19/kg.

FCEVs driven by hydrogen have a substantially higher energy efficiency than traditional internal combustion engines (ICEs) or ICE vehicles powered by diesel and petroleum, and emit no exhaust other than water vapor. FCEVs are critical for decarbonizing China’s transportation sector, which accounts for 7.5 percent of the country’s CO2 emissions, trailing only the power and heat sector (42%), and the industrial sector (23%), according to government figures.

Sinopec is the world’s largest refiner in terms of capacity, and its subsidiary Sinopec Marketing operates the largest domestic transportation fuel distribution network, with over 30,716 retail outlets.

These investments provide the organization with the infrastructure necessary to become China’s largest hydrogen supplier.

According to Jiang, the oil giant emits over 150 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, whereas Sinopec Marketing emits approximately 2.2 million metric tons. Sinopec intends to achieve net zero emissions by 2025, emitting between 40 and 70 million metric tons of CO2, according to Jiang.

Carbon emissions from Sinopec Marketing’s fuels exceed 500 million metric tons at the moment, contributing for 50% of China’s CO2 emissions from the transportation industry.

“Building hydrogen service stations to supply clean energy is one of Sinopec’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions,” Jiang said.

Sinopec aims to establish 1,000 hydrogen refueling stations during the 14th five-year plan term [2021-2025], with a total capacity of 200,000 mt/year, Platts previously reported.

Sinopec had already equipped 31 stations with hydrogen refilling capabilities and established over 600 solar energy projects by the end of September, Jiang said, adding that the business aims to have 7,000 solar energy plants in operation by 2025.

Sinopec Marketing’s primary energy source is electricity, necessitating the development of wind and solar energy in order to modify the company’s energy consumption balance in order to reduce emissions.

Sinopec Marketing anticipates that 10,000–30,000 retail outlets equipped with hydrogen refueling stations will be required to meet demand in 2030, when registered FCEVs reach 30 million units, Jiang added.

According to the company, 30,000 integrated retail stations capable of providing electricity and hydrogen refilling in addition to petroleum and gas will contribute to the reduction of more than 500 million mt of CO2 emissions from gasoline and gasoil, which account for more than 40% of carbon emissions from the transportation sector.

Jiang also announced the development of four green hydrogen production projects: 20,000 mt/year solar-based hydrogen production in Kuqa, Xinjiang; 10,000 mt/year wind- and solar-based hydrogen production in Ordos, Inner Mongolia; 100,000 mt/year renewable-based hydrogen production in Ulanqab, Inner Mongolia; and 10,000 mt/year offshore wind-based hydrogen production in Zhangzhou, Fujian.

Sinopec said Nov. 4 that it had launched and placed into operation a new proton exchange membrane (PEM) hydrogen generation demonstration station at its affiliated Yanshan Petrochemical, utilizing entirely indigenous technology.

Yanshan Petrochemical operates a 2,000 cu m/hour hydrogen purification facility that began operations in March 2020 and has a capacity of 130 mt as of mid-October.

The plant will deliver hydrogen to Beijing and the nearby Heibei region, including four Sinopec retail stations for the next Winter Olympic Games.

Apart from Yanshan, six Sinopec factories, including those in Gaoqiao, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, have installed hydrogen purifying units to produce hydrogen fuel rather than the conventional hydrogen utilized in the refining sector to remove sulfur.

Yanshan and Guangzhou will generate 200 mt of hydrogen fuel each this year, Jiang said, adding that Sinopec intends to add five to eight additional hydrogen purification units to produce hydrogen fuel.

Sinopec is to invest $4.6 billion in hydrogen between 2021 and 2025, with the goal of increasing green hydrogen production capacity to 500,000 mt/year. Platts previously reported.

Sinopec’s primary refining capacity was 5.98 million barrels per day, while the company’s hydrogen production capacity from refining operations was 3.9 million mt/year, accounting for 11% of China’s hydrogen output, the company claimed earlier this year.

Nedim Husomanovic

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