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Fuel Cell Development in China

Views: 0     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-08-05      Origin: Site


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Fuel Cell Development in China

Chinese fuel cell enterprises have accelerated their layout and adhered to positive development. The degree of autonomy of fuel cell technology has gradually increased, innovative products have continued to emerge, and product performance has gradually caught up with or exceeded foreign advanced levels.

In recent years, with the support of a series of major projects in China, Chinese fuel cell enterprises have accelerated their layout and adhered to positive development.

Continuous Iteration of Technical Processes

MIIT data shows that in 2022, the installed capacity of fuel cell systems in China will be 506.90 trillion watts, a year-on-year increase of 191.7%; in June 2023, the installed capacity of fuel cell systems will be 71.80 trillion watts, a year-on-year increase of 33%. According to the analysis of IFC Securities, this year, the installed capacity of fuel cells in China is expected to show a high growth trend. Under the background of the implementation of detailed policies and the improvement of the maturity of the industrial chain, the industry's volume growth is highly certain.
While the market scale is expanding, the technologies related to the core components and key materials of fuel cell products continue to iterate. "As one of the core components of hydrogen fuel cells, the high performance and long life of membrane electrodes are of great significance to the commercialization of fuel cells." Shao, general manager of a hydrogen fuel cell company in Jiangsu, told reporters, "Since the beginning of this year, China's membrane electrodes have greatly improved in terms of technology, cost reduction and performance. In terms of production processes, more and more manufacturers have adopted direct coating processes and roll-to-roll packaging processes, which have greatly improved production efficiency and reduced production costs. At the same time, new processes such as single cells have also emerged. At present, the production capacity of membrane electrodes has also increased significantly compared with before, and the production capacity of some head membrane electrode companies has reached 4 million pieces/year. "
Taking Hydrogen Conducting Intelligence Company as an example, Shao introduced that after in-depth research on a preparation process of membrane electrodes - CCM direct coating process and equipment, a new direct coating equipment has been launched, and the product is in a leading position in all aspects of performance. In terms of proton exchange membrane packaging, Hydrogen Conducting Intelligence Company has launched high-speed and high-precision membrane electrode packaging equipment of 10 pieces/min-20 pieces/min, and has accumulated rich experience in mass production.

Lu, general manager of a fuel cell company in Shanghai, told reporters that after years of joint efforts in the upstream and downstream of the industry, Chinese fuel cell companies have made great progress in system design, stack design and core components. It is believed that with the continuous growth of China's application scenarios and scale, China's fuel cell industry can also come to the forefront of the world like photovoltaics and lithium batteries. "In terms of core technologies, Jiehydrogen Technology has mastered system integration, stack design, bipolar plate and membrane electrode design, etc., and realized the independent production of systems, stacks and membrane electrodes."

Significant Cost Reduction in the Industrial Chain

The interviewed experts pointed out that after nearly ten years of development, China's fuel cells have achieved localization and large-scale production of first-class components, including membrane electrodes, the technical performance and cost reduction of core fuel cell components, industrial chain investment layout, Significant progress has been made in industrial development scale and other aspects.
Lu said that in recent years, the cost of fuel cells has dropped significantly, from 16,000 yuan/kW-20,000 yuan/kW around 2017 to 4,000 yuan/kW last year, and will continue to decline in the future. The entire system cost of fuel cells will also be reduced accordingly.
"In order to further achieve cost reduction, the industry should seize more potential cost reduction opportunities in the future." Lu pointed out that the first is scale. Like the lithium battery industry, scale reduction can bring the largest cost reduction to the entire industry; the second is through breakthroughs in processes, technologies, materials and methods, such as using catalysts with better activity and longer life, and less catalyst load to achieve the same power output of fuel cells to reduce the amount of platinum used, thereby achieving cost reduction.
The synergy between localized substitution and standard specifications cannot be ignored. Lu said that technological breakthroughs in localized substitution are particularly critical. "In the manufacturing and testing links, we continue to break through the process design to achieve cost reduction. In terms of standard and specification coordination, the existence of standards means that there are certain indicators for hardware and management. On this basis, upstream and downstream can better divide labor and cooperate to jointly design fuel cell systems, stacks and core components. For example, the standard specifications of hydrogen refueling stations and the large-scale commercial application of fuel cells can be connected, which can achieve huge cost reductions."
It should be noted that in terms of localization of the supply chain, some core raw materials for membrane electrodes still rely on imported products with higher prices at this stage. Lu emphasized that in terms of core raw materials for membrane electrodes, with the continuous layout of Chinese enterprises in the fields of catalysts, proton exchange membranes, and gas diffusion layers, some enterprises have adopted domestic products in 2022; During the period 2023-2025, the industry needs to continuously improve the production and sales of domestically produced material stacks in combination with the relevant requirements of the national fuel cell demonstration city policy.

Shao believes that at present, fuel cells are in the early stage of industrialization, but they need to compete directly with traditional internal combustion engines. The volume of these two industries is very different. At this stage, it is difficult for fuel cells to compare with traditional internal combustion engines in terms of cost, and there are still many technical bottlenecks. There is no breakthrough, and it will take some time to build a related supporting ecosystem.

Enterprise Profit Can Be Expected

Although fuel cells still face many challenges in achieving large-scale and commercialization, the industry is expected to improve as a whole. "In recent years, more and more start-ups, listed companies, and entrepreneurs returning from overseas have entered the field of fuel cells to engage in research and development. At present, the overall performance gap of fuel cells in my country is getting smaller and smaller compared with foreign countries." Lu emphasized that as the process of localization and substitution accelerates, after localized materials meet the requirements of fuel cell stack performance, reliability and life, domestic stack and membrane electrode companies can also reduce the high gross profit of imported materials due to technological monopoly, forcing imported materials to quickly reduce prices.
Shao believes that the industry needs innovative car companies that understand products and the market to jointly create excellent fuel cell vehicles, deeply develop the commercial and ancillary value of fuel cells, and avoid blindly competing with internal combustion engines for costs. "The economy of scale effect of the automobile industry is very strong, which can pull the volume and technology upgrade of the fuel cell industry from the demand side, and drive the entire industry chain to reduce costs, so as to achieve profitability."
Lu pointed out that in the future, the industry should create conditions for the application of localized fuel cell materials to more stacks and vehicles, obtain practical application feedback, and provide the upstream with corresponding quality, performance and use information of the entire product, so as to achieve continuous technology iteration. At the same time, further improve the level of localized R & D and production, provide important support for the cost reduction of the whole life cycle after large-scale application in the future, and boost the competitiveness of my country's fuel cell products to the forefront of the world.
"In general, the fuel cell industry as a whole is in a stage of rapid industrial development and continuous iterative improvement of technology. The continuous improvement of product performance and the continuous decline of costs are the embodiment of the core competitiveness of fuel cell companies." Lu said, "Fuel cell companies need to continue to combine the development trend of industry technology and the actual needs of downstream customers, and continue to increase R & D investment. Only in order to launch new products and new technologies in a timely manner, and continuously form new performance growth points, so as to maintain a long-term competitive advantage."

Facerom was established in 2014, and the company is located in Hefei, one of the four major scientific and educational cities in China.

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