EnergyWatch

Sinopec throws itself into hydrogen for China's green car goals

The giant oil company lays big plans to expand China's hydrogen refueling network as a part of the country's efforts to clean up its energy profile -- a move that's projected to give the fuel cell market a considerable boost.

Photo: Andy Wong/AP/Ritzau Scanpix

Sinopec plans to boost its hydrogen refueling network as the state-owned oil giant tries to carve out a role in China’s transition to cleaner energy.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., as the company is formally known, plans to have 1,000 refueling stations equipped with hydrogen by 2025, the company said in a statement on its WeChat account, up from about 27 pilot stations at the end of last year. The company operates about 30,000 service stations, according to its most recent annual report.

The ambitious target underscores the emphasis China is putting behind the still-nascent transport technology. The announcement caused Morgan Stanley analysts to raise their forecast for hydrogen stations in the country by 2025 to 2,000 from 580 previously.

“Sinopec’s ambitious hydrogen development plan in 2021-2025 will speed up fuel cell penetration significantly,” Morgan Stanley analyst Jack Lu in a report on Monday.

Two-thousand stations would be enough to maintain 150,000 to 300,000 fuel-cell vehicles on the road, Lu said. China is targeting to have 1 million fuel-cell vehicles in operation by 2030, according to an energy savings vehicle development plan drafted by authorities, despite only 2,700 such cars selling in the country in 2019.

Sinopec also said it plans to boost its solar power capacity, building 7,000 distributed photovoltaic power stations by 2025, when China’s 14th 5-year plan ends.

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