Chinese electrolysers that are up to four times cheaper than Western equivalents will become popular around the world in the second half of this decade, according to a new report by analyst BloombergNEF (BNEF).

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“Chinese alkaline electrolysis systems generally cost 25% of the price of the same type of project in Western countries, thanks to cheap labor and upstream supply from the domestic market,” said the study, which was based on an industry survey of 20 companies.

It put the price of a Chinese alkaline electrolysis system at about $343/kW, compared with $1,200/kW in the West.

So even when adding costs for shipping, Chinese systems can be delivered internationally at a far lower price than Western ones, the study points out.

BNEF says it expects that Chinese electrolysers will represent less than 30% of sales in Europe and the US before 2025.

But the report adds: “Chinese manufacturers have started their march into international markets... Electrolysis products made in China are likely to become popular worldwide during 2025-30.”

As Recharge reported in June, the electrolyser industry could repeat the same pattern seen in the solar sector in the mid- to late 2000s, when Western dominance of PV panel manufacturing rapidly disappeared with an influx of cheaper modules from China.

“The chance is high that the same or similar story would happen in the hydrogen industry as what we saw in solar,” BloombergNEF energy specialist Xiaoting Wang told Recharge in June.

The new BNEF study, which Wang contributed to, adds: “By 2025, economies of scale, technology improvement, vertical integration and the lowering of manufacturer margins are likely to cut costs by 30%. However, increases in labor costs and the price of commodities such as metals could offset the above-mentioned factors.”