Authoritative media interview with CPU Hydrogen General Manager Li Liucan

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The original interview is as follows:


Under the goal of carbon peak-to-peak carbon neutralization, hydrogen energy industry in China ushered in accelerated development, and the role of green hydrogen in carbon reduction has attracted much attention. Electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen is the most important way to produce green hydrogen at present, its market scale is also expanding. In general, China's electrolysis water hydrogen production industry still faces a series of challenges such as equipment performance, technology, cost and scale production.


How to promote the improvement of water electrolysis hydrogen production technology? How to achieve large-scale, low-cost production of green hydrogen? In an interview with reporters recently,  CPU Hydrogen General Manager Li Liucan gave his answer.


Hydrogen production from alkaline water electrolysis


Continue to maintain mainstream status


On June 1, 2022, the National Development and Reform Commission, the National Energy Administration and other nine departments jointly issued the "14th Five-Year Plan" for Renewable energy Development, proposing to promote large-scale hydrogen production from renewable energy and carry out large-scale demonstration of hydrogen production from renewable energy. In areas where the cost of renewable energy generation is low and the development conditions of hydrogen energy storage and transport industry are good, we will promote the industrial development of hydrogen production from renewable energy generation and build large-scale green hydrogen production bases.


Under the incentive of the policy, the development of green hydrogen industry keeps increasing speed, driving the market demand of water electrolysis hydrogen production industry greatly. According to research conducted by the Hydrogen Electricity Research Institute (GGII), the market demand for hydrogen production equipment from water electrolysis is expected to reach 730 MW in 2022, nearly double that of 2021.


At present, water electrolysis technology mainly includes alkaline water electrolysis, proton exchange membrane (PEM) water electrolysis and solid oxide water electrolysis. In the opinion of Li Liucan, the above three technologies have advantages and disadvantages, compared with PEM water electrolysis hydrogen production and solid oxide hydrogen production technology, alkaline water electrolysis hydrogen production is the most mature electrolytic hydrogen production technology at present stage in China, has obvious advantages in cost, service life, accuracy and reliability. However, it is weak in coupling with renewable energy and realizing efficient and stable operation under fluctuating power input. PEM hydrogen production is smaller, faster and more environmentally friendly, but it is relatively expensive and has shortcomings in key components and precious metal applications. Solid oxide hydrogen production is suitable for nuclear power plants and other specific applications, including steel plant waste heat hydrogen production, efficient use of steam to further improve the economy of hydrogen production, so it is also a very energy saving hydrogen production way, but need to solve the problem of life.


In large-scale applications, economics is the most important consideration, Li stressed. Therefore, alkaline electrolysis of water for hydrogen production, which is suitable for large-scale projects, will continue to be the mainstream technology in the future, and PEM hydrogen production will be targeted to specific applications where dynamic response speed is very fast. "With the strengthening of research and development investment in recent years, the basic water electrolysis technology has been significantly improved. On the premise of maintaining the advantage of low cost, the key performance index of the basic electrolyzer has been close to that of the proton exchange membrane electrolyzer. With the injection of scientific research strength and industrial investment, alkaline electrolytic hydrogen production technology in scale, cost, performance and other comprehensive performance will maintain the competitive advantage in the future."


Aiming at large-scale hydrogen production to improve the technical level


The national policy clearly supports and the technical path direction is clear. The next step of industrial development should focus on the continuous improvement of the technical level of hydrogen production equipment.


At present, many enterprises in the industry have been aiming at the field of hydrogen production equipment, and have been offline hydrogen production equipment system. In this regard, Li Liucan believes that, on the one hand, it is a strong embodiment of the huge market prospect of China's green hydrogen industry and the potential improvement of the demand for hydrogen production equipment; On the other hand, it should be noted that making a set of hydrogen production system is only the beginning. For enterprises, how to have large-scale green hydrogen production capacity will be the biggest challenge to face in the future.


"In addition to improving the efficiency and economy of hydrogen production systems, the source of hydrogen production also needs to be considered. Green hydrogen is produced from green electricity rather than electricity from the grid. Therefore, how to make good off-grid hydrogen production from renewable energy and further enhance the coupling of hydrogen production equipment and off-grid renewable energy requires continuous technological progress." Li Liucan admitted that at present, the performance of hydrogen production system in our country is far from the "ceiling" of the industry and the technology level has not yet fully met the requirements of large-scale hydrogen production. In the world, there is still a gap of 5-10 years in the level of advanced hydrogen production system between China and foreign countries.


In addition, with the continuous expansion of green hydrogen application scenarios, hydrogen production equipment also faces the problem of adaptation in different application scenarios. In the 14th Five-Year Plan for Renewable Energy Development, green hydrogen will be promoted in key areas such as chemical industry, coal mining and transportation. In areas with abundant renewable energy resources and good foundation of modern coal chemical or petrochemical industries, focus on green hydrogen substitution in energy and chemical bases, actively explore the substitution application of hydrogen in metallurgical and chemical industries, and reduce fossil energy consumption in metallurgical and chemical industries.


According to Li Liutan, the stability, responsiveness and maintenance cost of hydrogen production equipment should be comprehensively considered in different application scenarios. At the same time, energy, chemical, metallurgy and other fields have high requirements on the use intensity of energy equipment. Whether hydrogen production equipment can withstand the test of thousands of hours of high-load operation every year requires the focus of relevant enterprises and industries and continuous efforts.


Industry should enter the rational precipitation period


The Medium and Long-term Plan for the Development of the Hydrogen Energy Industry (2021-2035) proposes that by 2025, China's hydrogen production from renewable energy will reach 100,000-200,000 tons/year, and by 2030, a relatively complete clean energy hydrogen production and supply system will be formed, the industrial layout will be reasonable and orderly, and the hydrogen production from renewable energy will be widely used.


According to Li Liucan, a number of green hydrogen demonstration projects have been carried out in China, and the planned production capacity has far exceeded the 2025 target for hydrogen production from renewable energy, but the actual production capacity may be far less than the planned capacity. "China ranks first in the world in renewable energy installation and has great potential to develop clean and low-carbon hydrogen energy. However, the country's target for hydrogen production from renewable energy is relatively cautious, which I think is scientific and necessary. On the one hand, the construction of application scenarios is an important prerequisite for the large-scale development of green hydrogen industry. Only by further improving and enriching the application scenarios of hydrogen energy and generating large-scale stable demand can the large-scale consumption of green hydrogen be solved. On the other hand, the large-scale application of green hydrogen is inseparable from the continuous improvement of hydrogen production technology and equipment stability, and the solution of the volatility problem on the power side."


"The benign development of hydrogen production industry needs a long-term process, and high output value and high profit should not be blindly pursued in the short term. In the long run, the country has made clear the energy attribute of hydrogen, with the continuous growth of the installed scale of new energy, the grid side will inevitably choose water electrolysis hydrogen production technology after reaching saturation, so the water electrolysis hydrogen production industry will usher in a real outbreak period." Li stressed that before then, the industry should enter a period of rational precipitation, focusing on equipment performance improvement, technological innovation accumulation, construction of hydrogen infrastructure such as hydrogen pipe networks, and safety. As an enterprise, we should continue to carry out forward-looking technology research and development, do not seek big and fast, but should seek specialization and refinement, step by step to promote industrial development.


In order to respond to the "double carbon" goal and solve the industry problems, Suzhou Xibeiyou Hydrogen Energy Technology Co., LTD., which focuses on the research and development and production of electrolytic water hydrogen production equipment, has started to act. The reporter learned that in August this year, Xibeyou 1400 standard square hydrogen production system was officially offline. The hydrogen production system well follows the development direction of hydrogen production equipment to low cost, low energy consumption, high electric density and high gas production.


"At present, we are further improving the performance of the hydrogen production system through continuous experiments to enhance the energy consumption index and system stability. "Future hydrogen production facilities need to have low maintenance costs, low energy consumption, and easy to scale up production. Zebebetter will continue to improve the technical level of system equipment by aiming at these goals." "Li said.

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