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Hydrogen makes the Beijing 2022 Games greener
Hydrogen-fueled buses and drones are being used in conjunction with on-site hydrogen stations
By Li Xiaoyang  ·  2022-02-14  ·   Source: Web Exclusive

A hydrogen-powered bus of the State Power Investment Corp. at the Yanqing competition zone of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games on February 11 (LI XIAOYANG)

As China works toward peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060, it is putting its pledges into practice for a green and sustainable Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Hydrogen-fueled buses and drones are being used in conjunction with on-site hydrogen stations, reducing the Games’ carbon footprint while also showcasing the progress made by China’s hydrogen industry.

According to the Beijing 2022 organizing committee, around 1,000 hydrogen-fueled buses and over 30 hydrogen stations are in operation during the Games. Temperatures in the mountains reach as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius, which can make it hard for engines of electric vehicles to work. Driving uphill also increases electricity consumption. For these reasons, hydrogen-fuel-cell buses were chosen over electric buses for use in the area. The former only emits pure water as a byproduct of energy production, which leads to less pollution than diesel-powered vehicles.

Among the hydrogen-powered buses operating in Beijing and suburban Yanqing District, there are around 200 manufactured by the State Power Investment Corp. (SPIC), one of China’s top five power generators. Zhang Yinguang, General Manager of SPIC Hydrogen Energy Co. Ltd., told Beijing Review that the highest point the hydrogen-fueled buses reach in Yanqing is about 1,500 meters above sea level. In this mountainous area, the buses can travel 500 to 600 km per tank of hydrogen.

"The buses are equipped with ‘forerunner,’ a hydrogen engine developed by SPIC. It has undergone more than 800 km of cross-provincial and long-distance service delivery, and more than 30,000 km of road tests in mountains and on flat roads, including low-temperature road tests," Zhang said.

The hydrogen engines developed by the company have also been adopted for use on drones SPIC uses to patrol and inspect its electricity supply systems, which transmit wind and solar power from Zhangbei County of Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, and Yanqing to provide electric supply to the 2022 Games. Using hydrogen engines, the drones emit no carbon and can operate for approximately 24 hours before refueling, despite the low temperature and high altitude.

In preparation for the Games, the number of hydrogen plants and stations in the area was increased in order to serve the Olympic buses. According to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Management, Beijing has established 10 hydrogen stations, of which four are focused on supplying fuel during the 2022 Games. The average daily supply capacity of the hydrogen stations can reach 3 tons.

In early January this year, China’s first in-station hydrogen-fuel-cell testing laboratory was opened in Chongli District of Zhangjiakou, where a competition zone of the 2022 Games is located. The laboratory tests 13 indicators that reflect the health and functionality of the cells used during the Games.

As China pushes forward with green development, the development and application of hydrogen technology have been expanding at an increasing rate. Since 2021, many local governments have issued policies to promote the development of the hydrogen energy industry. According to a plan released by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and Information Technology in August 2021, a hydrogen energy industry chain worth more than 100 billion yuan ($15.83 billion) will be built in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region by 2025, with 37 hydrogen refueling stations built and 10,000 hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles in use.

The industry is expected to become a new "blue ocean" for China's green drive. The National Alliance of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells has projected China’s demand for hydrogen energy will reach 60 million metric tons by 2050, which is expected to help reduce carbon emissions by 700 million tons.

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson

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