Two Attitudes Towards Hydrogen Fuel Cells at Home and Abroad

As users and enthusiasts of traditional cars, facing the rapid development of new energy vehicles, there will indeed be a period of pain. However, from a macro perspective, reducing the use of pure fuel vehicles is conducive to changing the energy use structure at the national level. However, global auto companies believe that the really clean new energy is hydrogen fuel cells. After all, the emissions are only water. However, looking at home and abroad, we will find that their attitudes towards the research and development of hydrogen fuel cell technology are different.

In the early 18th century, British scientists invented the principle of fuel cell. In the 1950s, bacon, a professor at Cambridge University in England, successfully developed fuel cells with high-pressure hydrogen and applied them in the laboratory. In the 1970s, the United States successfully applied fuel cells to Gemini V spacecraft and Apollo spacecraft, becoming the first country to realize the application of hydrogen energy technology. However, from the late 20th century to the early 21st century, the development of hydrogen energy technology almost stagnated due to cost problems. It was not until the breakthrough of Japanese fuel cell technology in 2014, coupled with the gradual reduction of reserves of primary energy such as oil and coal, which led to energy shortage, that the vision of building a "hydrogen energy society" was regained, and hydrogen energy was paid more attention again.

It is precisely because of the early contact with hydrogen fuel cell technology that foreign car companies started this technology much earlier than domestic ones. In fact, General Motors began to develop hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as early as 1966, Honda began in 1992, and Toyota followed Honda in four years. At the policy level, some countries maintain a positive attitude towards hydrogen fuel cell technology. For example, in 2014, Japan's Ministry of economy, industry and Trade issued the strategic roadmap for hydrogen energy and fuel cells and formulated a "three-step" development plan. Support policies mainly include R & D, demonstration and vehicle subsidies.

In terms of R & D, Japan mainly invests in fuel cells, hydrogenation stations and hydrogen energy supply chain. Since 2017, the demonstration use of fuel cells has expanded from household to commercial and industrial use, and it is planned to reach 14 million sets next year. As for the subsidies most concerned by consumers, different models can enjoy 50% - 100% reduction, and about 50% subsidy for the construction of hydrogen refueling station. According to statistics, Japan's total subsidy to all domestic hydrogen refueling stations in 2014 was about US $60 million.

The governments of Europe and the United States also support and encourage hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The EU issued the renewable energy directive and other policy documents in 2016. The implementation cycle of the fuel cell and hydrogen energy implementation plan under promotion is 2014-2020, and the key support directions include transportation industry: road transportation, non road transportation, machinery, infrastructure, etc; Energy industry: hydrogen preparation, transportation, energy storage, power generation, cogeneration, etc. The United States can learn from the "national alternative fuel and charging network" plan released by the federal highway administration. 35 states in the United States will form a "hydrogen energy network" based on 55 hydrogen refueling stations, and 10 states such as California, Colorado, Florida, New York and Wisconsin will take the lead in starting construction.

In China, the new energy vehicle policy has also gone through 10 years. The development ideas include not only the development direction and process of plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles, but also the part of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and the subsidy of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is much higher than that of the former.

In the notice on adjusting and improving the financial subsidy policy for the promotion and application of new energy vehicles jointly issued by the four ministries and commissions in 2018, it is mentioned that fuel cell passenger vehicles are subsidized according to the rated power of the battery, with the subsidy standard of 6000 yuan / kW and the upper limit of 200000 / vehicle. Passenger cars and trucks shall be given fixed subsidies, and the upper limit of subsidies shall be 300000-500000 / vehicle according to the size of vehicle model. On this basis, local governments will issue local subsidies according to the national subsidy of 1:1 or 0.5:1, that is, a hydrogen fuel bus can be subsidized up to 1 million yuan.

At the same time, the strategic position of hydrogen energy and fuel cell industry can be seen in the national top-level plans such as the 13th five year plan for the development of strategic emerging industries, the action plan for energy technology revolution and innovation (2016-2030), the development plan for energy saving and new energy vehicle industry (2012-2020) and made in China 2025.

The main reason why hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are "blooming everywhere" abroad but "silent" at home is that there is an obvious technical gap. As mentioned earlier, Japanese car companies began the research and development of hydrogen fuel cells in the early 1990s, while they did not start to invest in China until 2001, and the technical maturity of key parts is not as ideal.

For example, proton exchange membrane system, metal plate electrode and graphite plate electrode, such as catalyst, proton exchange membrane, carbon paper, air compressor and hydrogen circulating pump, are still mainly imported, and there are not many domestic supporting enterprises.

In addition to technical iterations and differences, another focus is to test the water of fuel cell technology in the field of commercial vehicles, especially in urban buses and van transporters. And the supporting hydrogen production technology and cost have never been balanced, and the problems such as the construction of hydrogen refueling station and midway transportation have not been solved.

Two Attitudes Towards Hydrogen Fuel Cells at Home and Abroad 1

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