The city of Shanghai has announced major plans to become China's de facto centre for clean hydrogen, unveiling a slew of wide-ranging policies that include the creation of a national hydrogen trading platform, and the construction of a “leading hydrogen energy port”, a regional H2 pipeline network, and a physical hydrogen trading hub.

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The plans also include fiscal support for hydrogen-focused businesses, support for fuel-cell buses, trucks and refuelling stations, demonstrations of offshore wind- and solar-powered hydrogen production, the use of H2 for power grid peak regulation and as back-up power for data centres.

China’s largest city also stated it wants to support supply-chain manufacturing, and technology breakthroughs in electrolysers, fuel cells and H2 storage — including solid-state storage and long-distance pipeline transportation. However, it provided no details of the funding that would be required.

According to the country’s English-language state-run newspaper China Daily, Shanghai will “quickly plan the layout of the hydrogen transmission pipeline network, explore the planning and construction of pure hydrogen pipelines and hydrogen-mixed natural gas pipelines, and carry out related demonstrative projects in Lingang Special Area”.

Lingang is a relatively new free-trade zone to the south of the city that is intended to be the centre of Shanghai’s hydrogen activities.

The city explained that it would “support domestic hydrogen energy leading enterprises and professional carbon trading platform institutions to jointly establish a unified and efficient hydrogen energy trading platform in the Lingang New Area”.

To help establish the H2 trading platform, it will also “research and improve relevant policies, measures, standards and methodologies, explore hydrogen trading and green hydrogen trading, price index, traceability certification, participation of hydrogen energy storage in the electricity market and market-based trading mechanism for hydrogen energy and carbon emission reduction, and promote the emission reduction generated by clean hydrogen, including voluntary carbon emission reduction market transactions”.

The city also plans to “build a leading hydrogen energy port” at the Yangshan deep-water port in Hangzhou Bay to the south of Shanghai, which is connected to the mainland by the 32.5km Donghai Bridge.

The physical hydrogen trading base that the municipality plans to build is described as “hydrogen energy ship transportation terminals and hydrogen storage and transportation bases in Yangshan Deepwater Port, Nangang [a new port to the southeast of Shanghai], tidal flats and other unused land and offshore waters, so as to meet the demand for medium and long-term hydrogen use”.

The city also said it would explore the establishment of Lingang as an important domestic and foreign hydrogen trading base.

Shanghai’s new hydrogen-focused policies have been linked to China’s national H2 plans — announced in March — which include the production of 100,000-200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen annually by 2025 and to “steadily promote” hydrogen use in transport, energy storage, heavy industry and other fields — including aviation and fuel-cell use in buildings.

The city of Beijing has its own hydrogen development plan, which it unveiled in August 2021, that is far less ambitious than Shanghai's, calling for the nurturing of “ten to 15 leading industrial chain enterprises with international influence” by 2025 and the building of “three to four world-class industrial R&D and innovation platforms built”.

Other Chinese provinces and regions have unveiled plans to become major producers and users of green hydrogen. For instance, Inner Mongolia has announced plans to produce 500,000 tonnes of renewable H2 annually by 2025