We spend 60 seconds with Wei Jianjun, Chairman at Great Wall Motors.
What changes have you seen within the hydrogen ecosystem and community in the past year?
Hydrogen as a fuel for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) and as an energy carrier is gaining momentum in China, starting with commercial vehicles and 35 MPa refueling. Soon, hydrogen generated from various renewable sources and as a byproduct will become available in large quantities. Great Wall Motors has started developing fuel cell electric passenger cars and has initiated R&D on hydrogen generation and refueling.
What hydrogen related innovation, application or technology makes you most excited for the future?
Hydrogen will become a key element of future mobility and energy systems. There is no single innovation that excites me most. What I find particularly exciting is the opportunity to create a full, new value chain interlinking renewable energy and emission-free mobility. This opportunity is very compelling and motivating.
Are there any recent or upcoming hydrogen related milestones in your company that you are especially proud of?
This year we are putting our new Hydrogen Technology R&D Center into operation. It is a unique facility combining prototyping and testing capabilities for all key components of the FCEV drive system. We will, for example, be able to prototype and test our own MEAs (Membrane Electrode Assembly), fuel cell stacks and systems, hydrogen storage vessels, and balance of plant components. Furthermore, we can develop and test refueling processes and validate our technologies in our FCEVs on the testing grounds nearby. In the future, we may even add our own hydrogen generation from renewable energy onsite, producing clean hydrogen ourselves. These fully integrated hydrogen R&D capabilities are novel in China and represent a very exciting step in our Great Wall Motors initiative.
今年，我们新建的氢能技术中心逐渐投入运行。这是一座集试验、测试和试制能力于一体，几乎涵盖FCEV动力系统所有核心部件的独特设施。例如，我们将在这里试制并测试长城汽车自己的MEA（膜电极）、燃料电池堆及系统、储氢罐等。从而，我们可进一步开 发并测试加 氢技术，并在试验中心附近的场地上进行FCEV各项技术的测试和验证。未来，我们还计划在现场搭建可再生能源制氢设备，以展示清洁能源的理念。这些在国内处于领先的氢能技术研发能力，是长城汽车在氢能领域迈出的重要而令人兴奋的一步。
Which area of hydrogen development and deployment is your company investing in currently?
We are currently ramping up our fuel cell and hydrogen storage as well as refueling R&D. Our new Hydrogen Technology R&D Center will enable us to prototype and test our own FCEVs. In the future we will intensify our R&D efforts in hydrogen generation and hydrogen refueling stations. Quick refueling of FCEVs and a cost-efficient hydrogen refueling infrastructure are key enablers for hydrogen mobility. We must guarantee that we have the most reliable, safest and cost-competitive refueling stations for our FCEVs in China.
What has been the highlight of your Hydrogen Council membership so far?
As Great Wall Motors is a relatively new member of this honorable Hydrogen Council, I have only had the pleasure to take part in the most recent event in China in person. However, our Great Wall Motors hydrogen team has already taken part in the recent event in Korea and I am looking forward to supporting future Hydrogen Council activities such as the Annual CEO event.
What, in your opinion, is the biggest challenge for hydrogen in the near future, and how would you like to see it tackled?
So far, most of the FCEV passenger cars have been conversion designs of conventional vehicles. To make FCEV passenger cars attractive in performance and cost, we need to go a different way and develop more efficient and attractive products. Moreover, we need to look carefully at the issue of refueling station design. Hydrogen refueling stations for large cities in China must come with a small footprint as well as with safe and reliable technologies. We believe that liquid hydrogen as a feedstock for such stations will play a major role in China’s and eventually the world’s hydrogen future.
What positive indicators for hydrogen deployment have you seen recently and what is your take on the impact they may have?
FCEVs are becoming a reality. In China, thousands of fuel cell buses and trucks have already been assembled. Other countries already see FCEV passenger cars being rolled out in similar quantities. Hydrogen fuel might be introduced into many additional applications soon, in the world as well as in China. These will include material handling vehicles of different kinds and even aerial vehicles used in a variety of applications. In addition, there will be a strong link to hydrogen as large-scale or even small-scale decentralized energy storage. We see huge potential for various hydrogen applications in the future.
What do you think the biggest misconception is around hydrogen right now?
Hydrogen in the mind of many people is still a hazardous chemical. However, in reality hydrogen has many safety advantages. It is light and volatile and does not accumulate easily near ground level. Safety incidents with hydrogen as a fuel can be expected to become very rare, for example. Liquid hydrogen, which can be stored at close to ambient pressure, can make hydrogen fuel delivery and stationary storage extremely safe options.
在很多人的认知中，仍将氢看做一种有害流体。但实际上，氢具备很多安全优势。它是最轻的气体，极易挥发，很难在靠近地面的层面对其进行收集。例如，因氢气燃烧而造成的意外事故非常罕见。而液体状态下，氢的压力与大气压基本相同，这将为我们 带来 安全度极高的氢运输和储存方案。
Are there any inspiring or exciting hydrogen related projects going on outside of your company, or with your partners, that you would like to tell us about?
We see many interesting hydrogen projects evolving these days. We as Great Wall Motors want to be at the forefront and develop leading hydrogen technologies. That is why we have partnered with strong international companies already. I cannot give you details on these confidential activities now, but we are confident that we can show interesting first results soon.
If you could describe the future of hydrogen in one sentence, what would you say?
“Hydrogen will provide a sustainable world with clean mobility and energy to protect both the natural environment and future generations.”
If the sky was the limit, what action would you like the Council to take?
To pave the way for the successful adoption of hydrogen as a fuel and energy carrier, with support from governments worldwide, making the Hydrogen Council a central voice for the future hydrogen economy.