State Power Investment Corp vowed to step up investment in hydrogen-powered new energy vehicles. (PHOTO / VCG)

State Power Investment Corp vowed to step up investment in hydrogen-powered new energy vehicles to further promote the large-scale application of fuel cell passenger vehicles, which has been gathering momentum in recent years in China.

State Power Investment Corp Hydrogen Energy Tech pledged to invest 1 billion yuan ($140 million) in the high-power density fuel cell reactor and engine technology for passenger vehicles over the next five years, said Chen Ping, the company's technical director, during its product release of Hydrofore-S — a fuel cell product for passenger vehicles — in Beijing on Wednesday.

The company also plans to enhance cooperation with automotive conglomerates in China, including China FAW Group Co Ltd, one of China's oldest and largest vehicle manufacturers, and the first batch of its Hydrofore-S products will be applied to Hongqi H5 sedans, before being rolled out to more models later, he said.

The Hydrofore-S fuel cell product is expected to be used in 10,000 sedans over the next five years, helping break the foreign technology monopoly while achieving a comprehensive breakthrough in the independent technology of fuel cells and engine systems for passenger cars and large-scale industrial processes, Chen said.

Believing green hydrogen to be an inevitable choice on the path to green and low-carbon development, this is the first time Hydrogen Energy Tech's parent company, State Power Investment Corp — one of the five largest power generators in the world — officially entered the hydrogen-powered passenger car sector. All of its hydrogen fuel cell products have been used in long-distance buses until now.

An analyst said China, the world's largest hydrogen producer, has been actively developing hydrogen-powered passenger vehicles in recent years, including supportive policies and subsidies for fuel cell vehicle purchases and the construction of hydrogen refueling stations.

In addition, many domestic automakers in China have also been investing in the research and development of hydrogen-powered passenger vehicles, said Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University.

While the market share of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in China is still relatively small due to the higher cost of fuel cell technology and the lack of infrastructure including hydrogen refueling stations, it is expected to continue to grow in the coming years with government support along with the efforts of domestic automakers, he said.

By 2025, China will have about 50,000 fuel-cell vehicles on its roads, according to a plan jointly released in March by the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration. Estimates by the China Hydrogen Alliance say China's hydrogen energy market will reach 43 million metric tons by 2030, and the proportion of green hydrogen will increase to 10 percent from 1 percent in 2019.