International Hydrogen Fuel Cell Association


IHFCA Chairman Ouyang Minggao and His Team on China’s FCV Technology Roadmap and Progress

In June 2022, the Journal of Automotive Safety and Energy published Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Technology Roadmap and Progress in China. Authored by professors Wang Hewu, Ouyang Minggao, Li Jianqiu and Yang Fuyuan at Tsinghua University, the paper reviews China’s FCV development and representative progress in three aspects: industry value chain, FCV Roadmap 2.0, and FCV demonstration in Zhangjiakou.

A. China’s hydrogen and FCV value chain

According to the paper, China has built a relatively complete hydrogen industry chain. After 20 years of consistent R&D, China has basically grasped core technologies in hydrogen and fuel cells, critical components, power systems, FCVs, and hydrogen infrastructure. The country has developed an almost entire hydrogen value chain from hydrogen production, storage, and transportation to refueling, with FCVs leading hydrogen applications.

In addition, the paper introduces China’s domestic industry chain, and the companies mentioned in the paper in each segment are listed below.

With SinoHytec and SHPT as examples, the paper highlights China’s latest fuel cell system development.

The G120 fuel cell system developed by SinoHytec adopts the latest lightweight design. Key features include ultra-thin flexible graphite bipolar plates, integrated system with advanced stack sealing technology, high-performance hydrogen ejectors replacing hydrogen recirculation pumps, and enhanced mass power density.

Designed for automotive applications, the fuel cell systems developed by SHPT adopt integrated system design. Key features include enhanced volumetric and mass power density, components upgrade and system architecture optimization to reduce BOP energy consumption, real-time stack humidity monitoring and intelligent system control for fast response and environmental adaptability, and high durability (>10,000 hrs).

B. China’s FCV Technology Roadmap and Progress

In 2016, China released the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Technology Roadmap (2016-2030) with planned milestones in 2020, 2025 and 2030. In October 2020, China released the roadmap’s updated version for the period 2021-2035. With a focus on R&D priorities, market applications and industry scale-up, the so-called FCV Roadmap 2.0 set out clear targets and technology pathways for China’s FCV development in the next 15 years.

According to the roadmap, China is projected to have 0.8-1.0 million FCVs on road and 5,000 hydrogen refueling stations (HRS) in services between 2030 and 2035. The three-phase development will focus on the complementary development of EVs and FCVs, with commercial FCVs to roll out the FCV market. The purpose is to ensure the country’s energy security and realize low-carbon transportation.

Phase I (2020-2025): preliminarily realize the commercialization of hydrogen FCVs. In this phase, with a focus on public transportation and logistics, China aims to deploy 8,000-10,000 FCVs and 100+ HRS by 2025, and reach a cumulative mileage of 100+ million kilometers.

Phase II (2025-2030): accelerate hydrogen and FCV scale-up. This phase will focus on large SUVs and public transportation, targeting to deploy 50,000-100,000 FCVs and 1,000 HRS by 2030. It will also focus on local hydrogen supply (within 150 km), fuel cell system optimization and component volume production to significantly reduce system costs.

Phase III (2030-2035): achieve large-scale hydrogen and FCV applications. In this phase, China will deploy 0.8-1.0 million FCVs and 5,000 HRS, with green hydrogen accounting for more than 50% of hydrogen supply. It will also focus on the integration of large-scale hydrogen production, storage, transportation and end-user applications, the standardization of on-site hydrogen production and refueling, and the breakthrough of key technologies to build an entire industry supply chain.

To illustrate China’s FCV progress, the paper compares the technical specifications of China’s fuel cell stacks, systems and FCVs in 2021 vs. 2025 target, as shown in Tables 2, 3 and 4.

As shown in Tables 2 & 3, some stack and system specifications in 2021 have reached or even surpassed the 2025 target, but costs remained a key challenge, especially for commercial FCVs. The durability of commercial FCV systems reached 10,000+ hours in 2021, and the data needs to be further validated in a real operating environment.

The cost of a typical 12-m FCB in 2021 was approx. RMB 2.0 million vs. targeted RMB 1.0 million in 2025, as shown in Table 4 below.

C. Large-scale FCV Demonstration in Zhangjiakou

In the past five years, China has conducted considerable hydrogen FCV R&D and regional demonstrations, such as the large-scale FCV demonstration in Beijing and Zhangjiakou during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

With Zhangjiakou as an example, the paper evaluates the city’s demonstration of renewable hydrogen production, storage, transportation and refueling for FCV applications. After analysis, the paper concludes the city’s best practices could be used for other regions in China.

Located in northwest Hebei Province and adjacent to Beijing, Zhangjiakou is a medium-sized city connecting the renewable-rich areas in northern China and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Economic Region. As China’s only National Renewable Energy Demonstration Zone, Zhangjiakou brings together the latest renewable energy technologies and comprehensive hydrogen demonstration with innovative and supporting policies.

Because of its abundant solar and wind energy resources and excellent skiing conditions, Zhangjiakou was selected to support Beijing in hosting the low-carbon 2022 Winter Olympic Games. This provided the city with an excellent opportunity to showcase its impressive progress in hydrogen infrastructure and FCV demonstration in the past several years.

Zhangjiakou has developed a sound hydrogen production, storage, delivery and refueling infrastructure for FCVs. The city has completed the following five electrolytic projects with a combined hydrogen production capacity of 17 tons per day.

  • Haiper Phase I (4t/d);
  • Hebei Construction and Investment Group (HECIC) Guyuan Phase I (1.7 t/d) and Phase II (2.6 t/d);
  • HECIC Chongli Phase I (0.85 t/d);
  • Hebei Transportation Investment Group (HEBTIG)-Shell (8 t/d).

From October 2018 to December 2021, Zhangjiakou refueled a total of 1,527 tons of hydrogen for its FCB demonstration, including 550 tons in 2021. During the Winter Olympic Games in February 2022, Zhangjiakou deployed a total of 710 FCVs as the main transportation means for athletes, officials, visitors and reporters.

As of March 2022, the city has deployed a fleet of 444 FCBs on 10 bus routes in the urban areas, and most of these FCBs had served the Winter Olympic Games. By March 15, 2022, the fleet reached a cumulative mileage of 21 million kilometers and 65 million passenger trips, and the FCB with the highest mileage was 180,000 kilometers.

Supported by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), “Hydrogen for Transportation” was a key demonstration project under MOST’s "Science & Technology for the Winter Olympic Games" Program. Led by Tsinghua University, the project developed a total of 260 FCBs and five HRS.

The features of these FCBs include: 70MPa hydrogen fuel systems, fast refueling, high-power engines, dual-motor-driven systems, -35℃ freeze start, -40℃ parking protection, fuel cell system efficiency 60%, and range 400+ kilometers. Running on 29 challenging routes, these 260 FCBs have achieved a cumulative mileage of 400,000 kilometers in 25,000 operating hours.

The five stations have a combined refueling capacity of 4.8t/d (operating 10-12 hours per day) with 35MPa/70MPa dual refueling model. During the Winter Olympic Games and the Winter Paralympic Games, these five stations conducted 7,969 times of refueling for a total of 106.11 tons of hydrogen, with an average of 13.32 kg per refueling.

Zhangjiakou refueled a total of 94.3 tons of hydrogen during the 17-day Winter Olympic Games (Feb. 4-22), reducing carbon emissions by 1,414.5 tons. In these 17 days, compressed tube trailers equipped with highly advanced safety systems was the only means for hydrogen shipment from hydrogen production plants to HRS.

After the Winter Olympic Games, Zhangjiakou now is exploring its hydrogen potential to the next level. Under its integrated hydrogen development plan, the city aims to deploy:

  • 5GW wind and wind power;
  • 1.8GW green hydrogen production;
  • 80 tons of hydrogen energy storage;
  • 50MW fuel cell-based power generation;
  • 200MW hydrogen gas turbine-based power generation;
  • 350,000 tons of green ammonia per year, 400 tons of ammonia energy storage, 200MW ammonia gas turbine-based power generation;
  • 1,000 FCV deployment; and
  • Shipping hydrogen and ammonia to the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region.

Please click here to download the full journal paper in Chinese.