Recently, Toyota announced that its fuel power cell project was officially laid in Beijing. It is reported that this project is an important measure for Toyota to introduce and promote hydrogen fuel cell technology in China. It is worth noting that Toyota is not alone in entering the hydrogen fuel vehicle market. So far, many automobile enterprises including SAIC MAXUS, Hyundai Motor and Chang'an have deployed hydrogen fuel vehicles. As new energy, will hydrogen fuel power battery replace lithium battery? Is the future of new energy lithium or hydrogen?
Hydrogen fuel power cells become new favorites?
Since this year, many automobile enterprises such as GAC Group, Honda Motor and Weilai have accelerated their march towards the upstream lithium battery. In May 2022, according to public information, Weilai plans to carry out a trial production line of lithium ion cells and a battery pack line. In August, GAC announced that it planned to carry out the industrialization of its own battery, with a total investment of 10.9 billion yuan. In September, Ankai Bus announced that it would build a new energy power lithium battery production plant and carry out a new energy power lithium battery production project; Honda Motor announced that it and LG will build a battery plant in the United States, with a planned annual output of 40GWh, which will be put into operation in 2025.
However, lithium battery is not the only option for new energy vehicles, and many car companies also aim at hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
According to the statistics of Sino-Singapore Jingwei, in addition to the above-mentioned Toyota vehicles, SAIC MAXUS, Hyundai Motor, Chang'an, Great Wall, GAC Group and BAIC Group have all launched or are developing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Among them, Toyota, Hyundai, Chang'an, SAIC MAXUS and others have achieved mass production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
On October 13, 2022, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology publicized the contents of the Notice on Road Motor Vehicle Production Companies and Products (Batch 363). A total of 72 fuel cell vehicles were listed in this batch, which reached a record high. A total of the 34 automobile enterprises participated in application, and 27 companies participated in fuel power battery matching. This, to some extent, shows that the pace of market promotion of fuel cell vehicles is accelerating.
At present, hydrogen energy vehicles account for a relatively small proportion of the domestic production and sales of new energy vehicles, but the growth rate is fast. According to the data released by the China Automobile Association, the production and sales of new energy vehicles were 4.717 million and 4.567 million respectively from January to September 2022, up 1.2 times and 1.1 times year on year. Among them, the production and sales of fuel cell vehicles were 2374 and 2092, up 170.7% and 130.7% year on year respectively.
It is understood that the hydrogen fuel power cell is a power generation device that converts the chemical energy of hydrogen and oxygen directly into electrical energy. The hydrogen fuel power cell can be used as vehicle power, and the energy conversion efficiency is more than 60%. The working principle of hydrogen fuel power cell is that hydrogen is decomposed into electrons and hydrogen ions (protons) through the catalyst (platinum) in the positive pole of the fuel power cell. The protons reach the negative electrode through the proton exchange membrane and react with oxygen to change into water and heat, while the corresponding electrons flow from the positive electrode to the negative electrode through the external circuit to generate electric energy. Hydrogen fuel power cell has the characteristics of no pollution, no noise and high efficiency. Because of its "zero emission" in the process of generating electric energy, it is considered as one of the ideal methods to solve energy and environmental problems.
In March 2022, the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration jointly issued the Medium and Long-term Plan for the Development of the Hydrogen Energy Industry (20212035) (hereinafter referred to as the Plan), which plans to gradually establish a complete hydrogen energy industry system in the next 15 years. The Plan proposes that by 2025, the number of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in China will reach 50000, which will expand four times during the "14th Five-Year Plan" period.
Large-scale application needs at least 10 years
It is understood that the most important hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the domestic market are commercial vehicles.
According to the prediction of CITIC Securities, the new increment of fuel cell vehicles is expected to reach 80000-10000 in 2022, of which the sales volume of hydrogen heavy trucks is expected to reach 3500. In addition, CICC predicts that by 2030/2016, the annual sales of hydrogen energy heavy trucks will reach 50000/1235000 respectively, and the ownership will reach 80000/93600.
Experts analyzed that the high cost of batteries and the lack of gas exchange stations have become two major factors limiting the promotion of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Cao Guoqing, Deputy Secretary-General of the Alliance for Industry Innovation in Compulsory Recycling of Resources, pointed out in an interview with the China New Economic and Social Council that the current price of fuel cell vehicles is high and the purchasing power unit capacity is feasible, so commercial vehicles are the first to be promoted. The second is the load capacity. If the commercial vehicle or long-distance mileage vehicle is powered by lithium battery, it will have a significant impact on the load. However, fuel cell vehicles have light weight and can be loaded more. Therefore, fuel cell vehicles have more advantages in the field of commercial vehicles. He said that at present, there are two limiting factors in the promotion of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles: price and gas exchange station.
Shi Yingzhe, deputy director of the Institute of Securities and Futures at the Central University of Finance and Economics, also mentioned a similar view. Shi Yingzhe told China New Economic and Social Council that the cost of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is not low, and commercial vehicles are used frequently, and the single cost after allocation is lower than that of passenger vehicles. In addition, the use scenario of passenger cars should also consider the safety issue, "there is a great risk of hydrogen leakage in the underground parking lot."
Shi Yingzhe said, for example, at present, many fuel cell vehicle demonstration cities in China have subsidies for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. After the subsidies, the average price of hydrogen is about 30 yuan/kg. From the corresponding mileage, the actual fuel price of the same mileage as the fuel vehicle is not much different. The promotion resistance is mainly due to the high investment cost of the hydrogenation station. It costs about 10 million to 30 million yuan to build a hydrogenation station
"If the infrastructure construction continues to be advanced, the use cost can be further reduced. However, it will take time, and it may take at least 10 years to realize large-scale application. This involves not only technological progress, but also the construction of infrastructure, as well as policies to promote the application of hydrogen fuel power cells." Shi Yingzhe said.
Can't replace lithium battery, but has a place
Regarding whether the hydrogen fuel power battery can replace the lithium battery in the application of automobiles in the future, Shi Yingzhe said that first of all, it is necessary to clarify the conceptual differences between hydrogen fuel power battery and lithium battery. Lithium battery is actually an electrochemical energy storage device, while hydrogen fuel power cell is equivalent to a power generation device, which introduces hydrogen into the battery system and directly converts it into electrical energy through the chemical energy of hydrogen and oxygen.
Shi Yingzhe believes that hydrogen fuel power battery and lithium battery have their own advantages and disadvantages. At present, lithium battery is relatively mature, has formed scale and industrialization, costs are falling, and technology is also iterating. However, when the temperature is low, the performance of lithium battery will decline. "For example, when the Winter Olympic Games emphasized the importance of green hosting, it adopted hydrogen fuel vehicles instead of lithium electric vehicles, that is, because lithium batteries can not meet the demand when the temperature is low. Therefore, hydrogen fuel battery can not replace lithium batteries at present or even in the future, but there is also room for application. For example, the Northeast and Northwest regions can vigorously develop hydrogen fuel battery vehicles and play a role in low-carbon transportation."
Cao Guoqing said that hydrogen fuel power battery cannot replace lithium battery. First, due to the limitation of platinum materials, hydrogen fuel cell proton exchange membrane requires platinum catalysts for hydrogen reaction, while platinum resources are limited; Second, the high price of fuel power cells affects the promotion.
The spokesman of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology once said at the office of the National People's Congress that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and pure electric vehicles will coexist and complement each other for a long time to meet the needs of transportation and people's travel.
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