China’s steel capital to turn itself into a hydrogen hub

Tangshan, a city that produced 13% of China’s steel and 6% of the world’s output in 2021, announced on 29 June that it intends to turn itself into a hydrogen production hub for the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

In its “Tangshan Hydrogen Industry Development Plan”, released that day, the city government set a target of building a 5 billion RMB (US$746 million; by revenue) industry for hydrogen technology development and downstream applications by 2023. To achieve that goal, it intends to attract three to five leading enterprises in the hydrogen industry to invest in Tangshan.

Located to the east of Beijing in Hebei province, Tangshan plans to capitalise on a rising demand for hydrogen, propelled by the development of fuel cell vehicles in the region. A pilot programme approved by the central government last year plans to put at least 5,300 fuel cell cars on the streets of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Tangshan pledges to have 700 running on its own roads by the end of 2023.

Notably, the city envisions its massive steel industry as the primary source of hydrogen, with “green hydrogen” made using renewable energy complementing this. All coking facilities in Tangshan are expected to be equipped with capabilities to turn coke oven gas, a by-product of the coking process, into hydrogen. In addition, newly installed solar power plants in the city with a capacity over 100 MW are required to be built with equipment for producing hydrogen too.

Tangshan will also support local steelmakers to build steel production projects that use direct reduced iron (DRI) with hydrogen – seen as an important approach in the industry’s attempts to decarbonise – and help transform the steel capital into a “centre of green metallurgy”.

Read China Dialogue’s earlier story about cleaning up Hebei province’s air pollution.