Will lithium be replaced by hydrogen in 2022?
According to OECD estimates, the number of deaths caused by air pollution in China will be higher than the global average for a long time, and China’s environmental pressure is nearing the limit.Under enormous environmental pressure, China must save energy and reduce emissions, leading to what we now know as the goal of carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutral by 2060.This time point seems far away, but in the face of pressing environmental pressure, still set such a “distant” target, just reflects the great pressure of energy conservation and emission reduction.So in the past 2020 and 2021, we can see the booming development of new energy vehicles, but also see the emergence of more new energy, such as hydrogen energy today.In September 2020, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were released with “incentives instead of subsidies”. The capital market called 2021 the year of hydrogen energy “thousand cars in ten cities”, because as early as 2009, the development situation of new energy vehicles (lithium) is exactly the same as that of hydrogen energy today.In 2021, the pilot of local demonstration cities will be officially launched. In February, CNPC and Sinopec announced that they would vigorously arrange hydrogenation stations.In April longie, a photovoltaic giant, entered the hydrogen business.In terms of policies, China issued a number of hydrogen-related policies and plans at the national and local levels in 2020 to solve the problem that the top-level design of China’s hydrogen energy sector is not perfect, and it is necessary to continue to formulate the development roadmap of China’s hydrogen-related industry in the future.With constant policy encouragement and market progress, hydrogen energy today is no different from lithium-ion batteries in terms of development.From a strategic point of view, hydrogen energy is no less than lithium batteries.Given the current embarrassment of lithium-ion batteries, one wonders if 2022 will be the year hydrogen replaces them.Strictly speaking, the development of hydrogen energy has become a national imperative, so it is more reasonable to say whether hydrogen energy will replace lithium batteries in car applications rather than whether it will.First of all, let’s take a look at their application in the automobile market.The prevailing wisdom is that hydrogen is better for commercial vehicles and lithium-ion batteries for passenger cars.It also reflects the current situation of both, and the strengths and weaknesses of each.Hydrogen fuel cells are currently only used in buses and trucks due to the difficulty of storage, high transportation costs, high loading space requirements and insufficient supporting infrastructure.Because commercial vehicles mostly drive on national highways and expressways, they can be well equipped with relevant facilities.On the other hand, it can better reduce the public’s “insecurity” about hydrogen energy.In fact, hydrogen energy is not as dangerous as we think.For now, perhaps because of the small base, hydrogen fuel cells have never exploded spontaneously.And although hydrogen is flammable and explosive, but like pure oxygen can make people toxic, hydrogen also has the characteristics of easy diffusion, so the explosion conditions are not easy to form, just like the air contains hydrogen, but we do not produce explosion.In Norway, for example, there was an explosion at a hydrogen station, which remained in its original shape after the explosion because the hydrogen was rapidly spreading upward through the air, causing the explosion to go up.And from the sense of security of ordinary people, lithium batteries are not too dominant.In addition, lithium batteries are not only inferior to hydrogen fuel cells in energy density and low temperature performance, but also far inferior in power, which is one of the reasons why hydrogen fuel cells can easily drive large buses and trucks, while lithium batteries cannot.In November last year, The University of Tokyo developed a large-scale hydrogen production system based on solar energy.According to the Japanese government’s plans, and now Toyota’s first-generation Mirai fuel-cell system (with hydrogen storage bottles), it costs five cents a kilometre.But in fact, the implementation of the market is not so.The above calculations are based only on hydrogen manufacturing costs and energy utilization, and the storage, transportation, installation and operation costs of hydrogen energy are not included at all.In fact, the actual cost of hydrogen fuel cells should be 6-8 cents/km, which is similar to that of fuel cars, but has no advantage over pure electric models.Relatively speaking, lithium electricity relies on decades of state grid investment, only need to support and upgrade the charging terminal, which provides the innate conditions for the promotion of lithium electricity.At present, there are unsolvable and difficult problems about the shortcomings of lithium batteries, mainly focusing on low temperature performance, charging speed and battery recovery and other issues.Charging speed can be solved by switching power, but there is no breakthrough in low temperature performance and battery recovery.In general, both hydrogen fuel cell and lithium battery have their own advantages and disadvantages, which are difficult to solve at present.Because of this, from the point of view of the market, most enterprises did not choose to easily set foot in, more is a shallow dabble.In fact, there is no doubt that the country is currently focusing on electricity and hydrogen, rather than putting all its eggs in one basket.However, as hydrogen energy is still in the ascendant, it has a broader development environment in terms of policy intensity.With the targeted promotion of hydrogen fuel cell enterprises in 2022, for example, a large number of hydrogen fuel cell vehicle applications will appear in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games, and industry chain enterprises will usher in the first round of revenue peak. The first is hydrogen fuel cell commercial vehicle enterprises, such as Foton Motor, Yutong Bus, Jinlong Bus, etc., will increase.Different from lithium, this round of hydrogen fuel cell tuyere, vehicle enterprises will play a relatively important role. Due to the high technical threshold of hydrogen fuel cell stack and core components, Oems tend to master the core components themselves, which can not only reduce costs on a large scale, but also ensure the safety of the supply chain.To put it simply, it is difficult for a vehicle manufacturer to “cheat subsidies” or increase enterprise value through hydrogen energy.Therefore, the participation of the vehicle enterprise is not much, and most of the investment is not too much.Crucially, Japan and South Korea are ahead of China in the development of hydrogen fuel cells.But Japan’s experience in developing hydrogen fuel cells shows that this is not an easy task.Japan has largely abandoned its bet on hydrogen fuel cells, focusing instead on hydrogen energy and SOFC batteries.Toyota, which has many patented technologies, has been forced to switch to pure electric development under the pressure of global market and policy, and has disclosed some of its patented technologies.Given all this, the development of hydrogen fuel cells seems to have hit a snag from the start.Therefore, although the policy is more inclined to the development of hydrogen energy, but this is the development of hydrogen energy in the macro situation. When it comes to the specific application of the automobile field, the policy can only play a guiding role. Whether it can be realized ultimately depends on the market and technology.China is the world’s largest producer of hydrogen and its abundant resources have laid a material foundation for the development of hydrogen energy industry.As a kind of clean and efficient energy with high energy density, hydrogen energy can play an important role in solving energy crisis, global warming and environmental pollution.To be specific, hydrogen energy, once fully developed, has a wide range of uses, from electricity supply to natural gas for combustion, to recycling and application in cars with heavy emissions.Therefore, as one of the links, the development of hydrogen fuel cell is bound to enter a rapid stage in the short term, and with the gradual landing of the New Deal in 2022, it is bound to usher in a shining moment.(Photo source: Internet)