Jing Chunmei: The Development of Hydrogen Energy Must Avoid Repetitive Construction and Disorderly Competition

  • Time:2021-02-05
  • source:CCIEE

Jing Chunmei, Deputy Director of the Information Department, CCIEE

Jing Chunmei, Deputy Director of the Information Department, CCIEE, was interviewed by China Southern Power Grid. Below is a summary of the interview.

China Southern Power Grid: What do you think of the hydrogen energy heat in 2020? Will this be a new starting point for the rapid growth of hydrogen energy?

Jing Chunmei: The boom of hydrogen energy in 2020 is the inevitable result of hydrogen energy technology progress and sustainable industrial development over the years. As early as 2000, there was a hydrogen energy boom worldwide led by the United States, but it did not last long due to the high costs. In recent years, many countries and regions have attached again great importance to hydrogen energy, and major economies in America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania have included hydrogen energy development in their national strategic plans. In particular, the promotion of green economic recovery in various countries under the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to climate change have further boosted the popularity of hydrogen energy. Therefore, I think that hydrogen energy should be able to truly “heat up” globally this time and become a new starting point for the development of the global hydrogen energy industry.

From a domestic perspective, the Ministry of Finance and other five ministries and commissions issued the “Notice of Launching Demonstration Applications of Fuel Cell Vehicles” in 2020, which further stimulated the enthusiasm for industrial development. China’s vision of “carbon peak” and “carbon neutrality” has also brought a huge opportunity for the hydrogen energy industry. At present, China’s hydrogen energy has a relatively complete industrial chain, we have mastered the main technologies and production processes, and local governments have actively introduced plans and supporting policies. Furthermore, various types of capital and enterprises are competing for investment in the hydrogen industry. Small-scale demonstration applications have been implemented in local areas, and a clustered development appeared in regions such as Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze River Delta, and Pearl River Delta. The hydrogen development has also been included in the top-level design at the national level. Based on the above factors, it is expected that China’s hydrogen energy industry will usher in a period of rapid development in the future.

China Southern Power Grid: What are the advantages and disadvantages of China’s hydrogen energy development?

Jing Chunmei: The advantages of China’s hydrogen energy development are at two ends: the front-end of hydrogen source and the terminal market. The disadvantages exist in storage, transportation, refueling, and fuel cell-related core technologies and key materials. China is the world’s largest producer of hydrogen and renewable energy, and hence has great potential for green hydrogen supply. Apart from that, China has a huge market, which can provide enough room for the large-scale application of hydrogen energy and fuel cell technology. In recent years, the awareness of independent R&D of key technologies has been enhanced, rapid technological progress has also been made, but some key materials and equipment are still largely dependent on imports, and domestic products still need to catch up with advanced nations in terms of performance and cost.

China Southern Power Grid: What should China pay special attention to in the development of hydrogen energy?

Jing Chunmei: To develop hydrogen energy, more attention should be paid to make significant progress in the key technology as soon as possible, improve the industrial chain and realize the circulation of the domestic hydrogen energy industry. Moreover, we should handle the relationship between international cooperation and independent innovation properly, coordinate the independent technological progress and the promotion of the terminal market, and make sure that the market can be traded for technology.

Secondly, it is necessary to avoid the waste of valuable scientific research resources caused by decentralized R&D. The Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee proposed to build a new nationwide system for key technologies under the conditions of a socialist market economy, implicating that we should have an overall plan for coordinating scientific research resources in the development of hydrogen energy.

Last but not least, we must avoid repeated construction and disorderly competition. At present, more than 20 provinces and cities, and more than 40 prefecture-level cities have issued hydrogen energy plans. More than 30 hydrogen energy industrial parks have been built across the country. The number of planned fuel cells, vehicles, and stations far exceed market capacity and consequently, the risks of industry convergence and overcapacity continue to increase.

China Southern Power Grid: In the development of hydrogen energy, how should power companies seize the opportunity?

Jing Chunmei: Hydrogen energy is a good form of energy storage because it can be stored by a large scale and will not be affected by different seasons. It is a great back-up for power grids. In particular, it can be combined with the development of renewable energy. In some areas, they should produce hydrogen from renewable energy according to local conditions, or use hydrogen storage to help absorb renewable energy such as wind, solar power and water, which will play a positive role in achieving the goals of “carbon peak” and “carbon neutrality”.

In terms of microgrids, we could explore more comprehensive energy solutions for hydrogen storage and achieve the mutual conversion of electric energy and hydrogen energy and the co-fusion of hydrogen and electricity by maximizing the use of peak-valley electricity prices.

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