China has unveiled a masterplan to develop the country’s emerging hydrogen industry as a follow-on from last year’s landmark decision to set peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality targets, despite different initiatives having been rolled out by local governments, organisations or business entities.

The country’s National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC) announced on Wednesday that the country will build up an entire supply chain for the hydrogen industry, with production ranging from refining by-products to green hydrogen.

A massive expansion is planned in particular for green hydrogen, which is produced with renewable energy.

The new masterplan also covers supply chain and infrastructure investment for hydrogen industries, with diverse new applications of hydrogen expected to emerge by 2025.

China is targeting hydrogen production capacity of between 100,000 and 200,000 tonnes per annum by 2025 and wants to see 50,000 fuel cell vehicles on Chinese roads by then, the NDRC stated.

The country will also push to improve the institutional and policy framework in order to accelerate hydrogen development, the NDRC stated.

These efforts are intended to help reduce carbon emissions by 1 million to 2 million tpa by the middle of the decade.

By 2030, China expects to have a clean energy-based hydrogen production and supply system in place.

Based on local conditions, authorities will also develop infrastructures for distributed fuel cell applications and combined heat and power supply systems.

In tandem, China will establish a market mechanism for renewable energy-based hydrogen development, and explore ways to allow hydrogen to trade in the electricity market.

Fuel cell vehicles are being put into use “in small scale in some regions", according to the NDRC.

The NDRC claims that China is already the world’s largest hydrogen producing nation, with throughput standing at 33 million tpa, but only 12 million tonnes of that meets the ‘industry hydrogen’ standard.

About 80% of China's hydrogen production is currently of the "grey" variety, coming from coal and natural gas.

Industrial by-product hydrogen such as chlor-alkali, coke oven gas, and propane dehydrogenation accounts for about 20%, according to the NDRC.

China now has more than 300 grey hydrogen producers located in the north around Beijing and Tianjin cities, the Yangtze River delta region in the east and Guangdong province in the south.

The NDRC criticised some regional authorities for a lack of planning in developing hydrogen industries.

“Hydrogen application should be based on local conditions and applications in transportation, energy storage, power generation and industry [and] should be carried out in a stable and careful manner,” the NDRC said.

China has announced it is targeting to achieve its carbon emissions peak in 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2060.

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