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2020-09-10 06:49:53

Beijing on Tuesday rolled out a plan to promote hydrogen-powered vehicles and supporting infrastructure and development in the city.

According to the municipal government’s industry development plan, the city is aiming to establish up to 10 leading hydrogen-fueled automobile manufacturers over the next decade, focusing primarily on mid- to heavy-duty commercial vehicles such as long-haul trucks.

Beijing authorities also announced that the city’s suburban Daxing District will be designated a “hydrogen energy model zone.” The project has already raised 2 billion yuan ($292 million) in funding, which will go toward developing “related infrastructure and technology innovation programs,” according to Xinhua Net, a state-run news portal.

Hydrogen is a clean, zero-emission fuel. When burned, it can power an engine while giving off only water as a byproduct. Compared with electric cars, the most common new-energy vehicles in China and worldwide, hydrogen can mean at least one-third greater mileage and less time spent refueling.

However, the production of such vehicles remains costly. The Toyota Mirai, the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen-fueled car, has a base retail price of $58,550 — around double the price of many entry-level electric cars.

Last year, the Chinese government’s annual work report mentioned “hydrogen energy” for the first time, a signal that “supportive policies are coming later,” according to Xinhua Net.

As the world’s top carbon emitter, China has vowed to pivot from coal to clean energy by offering large subsidies to renewable-energy sectors. In recent years, however, authorities have been scaling down their support for such industries in the hope that they will soon be able to stand on their own.

Contributions: Chen Qi’an; editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: A man walks by a hydrogen-powered bus at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, April 26, 2018. People Visual)