The International Energy Agency (IEA) has recently published a report on China’s hydrogen economy together with the Economy and Technology Research Institute of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

The Chinese version of the report, titled The future of hydrogen: Capturing the opportunity today, points out that hydrogen as a clean future energy is presenting an unprecedented political and commercial development opportunity, with major economies like China, Japan, the US and EU introducing many hydrogen development policies and projects.

“Now is the important period for the hydrogen industry to expand the scale of technology and lower the cost so that hydrogen can be promoted extensively,” it says.

Nevertheless, the report also notes that, amidst this favourable outlook, there are challenges that the development of the hydrogen industry is facing at the present – including the high cost of hydrogen production, the slow development of infrastructure, the carbon emissions of hydrogen production from fossil energies, and a lack of relevant laws and regulations.

IEA calls for action to scale up hydrogen

For the future development of the global hydrogen industry, the report suggests that a long-term development strategy should be established, the commercial needs for the clean hydrogen development have to be stimulated, the costs of research and development (R&D) are to be lowered, and international cooperation is to be strengthened.

The hydrogen economy in China

The IEA further states that, for the short-term development, there are four areas that are favourable for the development of the hydrogen [energy] industry: 

  1. Make use of the chemical clusters along the coasts, turning them into hubs of low cost and low carbon hydrogen
  2. Make the best use of the existing natural gas infrastructure to stimulate the supply of new clean hydrogen
  3. Expand the application regime of hydrogen via fleets, cargo delivery, and public transport
  4. Start the international trading of hydrogen and to establish the first routes for the cargo flow.

The IEA’s report, titled The Future of Hydrogen: Seizing Today’s Opportunities, was initially launched at the G20 Summit in Tokyo, Japan in June.