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Global Green Hydrogen Policy: China, A Giant Biding Its Time

Global Green Hydrogen Policy: China, A Giant Biding Its Time
 Joseph Dellatte
Resident Fellow - Climate, Energy and Environment

Institut Montaigne has launched a new body of research on the role of hydrogen for decarbonization of industry worldwide. Following the publication of the issue paper "Hydrogen: A Driving Force for Global Industrial Decarbonization", and an analysis of Japan’s green hydrogen strategy, this next piece looks at China’s hydrogen policy. China is the biggest hydrogen producer and consumer in the world though most of its hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels or derived from industrial processes. Joseph Dellatte, Resident Research Fellow for Climate, Energy and Environment at Institut Montaigne’s Asia Program, analyzes the role hydrogen will play in decarbonizing China’s economy. He argues that despite China's immense industrial capabilities, and gigantic investments in renewable energy capacities, the country still lacks a comprehensive green hydrogen policy that would enable broader decarbonization efforts. The reason behind this can be attributed to the continued dependence on foreign technology and a deliberate strategy adopted by Chinese authorities to build a green hydrogen supply in a timely manner.

Fossil fuel dominance, incremental green shift and foreign dependencies

As the world's largest manufacturer, China also holds the title for the largest hydrogen producer, responsible for one third of global hydrogen production. In 2020, China produced 33 million tons of hydrogen, the majority of which was derived from fossil fuels. 62% of the hydrogen production came from coal, while natural gas accounted for 19%. In 2020, only 1% of China's hydrogen production was generated through renewable energy-based electrolysis, similarly to most countries. China must decarbonize its economy for the world to achieve carbon neutrality, in particular its industrial sectors, which account for 36% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Green hydrogen could become a crucial player in decarbonizing the industrial sectors where China currently leads, including steel, chemicals and cement. Furthermore, hydrogen and its storage potential is increasingly considered as a solution for China to help decarbonize its electricity grid. However, China has yet to flesh out a coherent green hydrogen strategy.

The present Chinese hydrogen policy is not a green hydrogen policy but this does not mean China is doing nothing on renewable hydrogen development. With its sky-rocketing renewable energy sector - more than a 40% of the global capacity installed in 2022 - coupled with its growing demand and electrolyzer industry, China has the potential to become a major player in the global renewable hydrogen sector. The Chinese central government has set a production target of 100,000 to 200,000 tons of renewable hydrogen per year by 2025 (a fairly modest objective compared to European ones - 10 million tons in 2030, with an additional 10 million tons imported). According to the China Hydrogen Alliance, the share of renewable electricity-based hydrogen could increase to approximately 15% by 2030. Based on current projections, renewable-based hydrogen could account for 80% of China's hydrogen supply by 2060 - the Chinese carbon neutrality target - the rest being met with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), while the EU expects its hydrogen supply to be totally green well before 2050.

The price of green hydrogen is determined by four factors. Firstly, the cost of electrolysers plays a significant role (capex). On average, Chinese electrolysers are less expensive than their European counterparts, although the balance of plant is more expensive. Secondly, the efficiency of the electrolyser is crucial. European PEM electrolysers outperform Chinese Alkaline electrolysers in this regard. The third element is the load of the electrolyser, which depends on the availability of renewable energy. China excels in this aspect compared to any European country, thanks to excellent synergy between wind (~5500h/y) and solar power in key regions such as Inner Mongolia. Lastly, the price of renewable installations, much lower in China compared to European countries.

  • Cost  of coal-based hydrogen in China: 1.2$/kg, and including Carbon Capture and Storage raises the production cost to approximately 2.48 to 2.9 $/kg
  • Estimated cost of alkaline electrolyzers in China ≈ 333$/kW (compared to ≈ 1200$/kW in Europe)
  • Cost of hydrogen produced by renewable electricity (onshore wind and solar photovoltaics): in China, sources on the price of renewable hydrogen vary from 22.5 and 33.6 yuan/kg (approximately 3.53 to 4,87$/kg) in the lower range, while average is considered to be above 40 yuan/kg and depending on location and technologies, the price can fall to 16 yuan/kg. In Europe, the lowest prices for green hydrogen production vary between 3.1 $/kg in Spain to more than 5$/kg in Germany.

Despite being a major cleantech actor in the world, China's green hydrogen technologies development lags behind that of Europe, Japan, and the USA. China however is a massive investor in manufacturing capacity, focusing on the Alkaline electrolyzer market it dominates (50% of the global manufacturing capacity). It still lags behind in proton exchange membrane (PEM) technologies, particularly important to handle renewable intermittence, that are currently mostly mastered by European actors. Some Chinese actors like SPIC are currently trying to develop it. The country continues to rely on technology imports for several critical areas, including core fuel cell elements, hydrogen refueling stations (compressors) and storage (carbon fiber, provided globally by Japanese and Korean companies). Major companies that are providing China with such technologies include Norway’s HydrogenPro, France Plastic Omnium and Faurecia, and Germany’s Bosch for storage-related technologies. ,For electrolysers, Belgium’s John Cockerill, Germany’s Siemens, and US Cummins are also in the Chinese market. China's dependence on technology imports could slow down its green hydrogen development, especially if growing geopolitical tensions give way to new policy measures aimed at restricting technology transfer - like potential US export restrictions. Together, these problems explain why China has been slower than other countries to develop green hydrogen demand policies and why it has prioritized the development of domestic supply technologies instead.

Although China is gradually implementing policies and strategies to promote green hydrogen, it has not fully embraced it as a critical tool for decarbonization. Firstly, the highly criticized Chinese Draft Energy Law, a critical piece of legislation that has been under discussion for several years, fails to distinguish between different types of hydrogen depending on how it is produced. Secondly, China's hydrogen policies, whether at the national or the local level, primarily focus on the transport sector, such as fuel cells and refueling stations, and less on green hydrogen production, liquid hydrogen storage and transport capacity, and its use for industrial decarbonization. While hydrogen pipelines exist at a regional level, they still need to be developed on a larger scale to promote the connection between renewable energy-rich regions (primarily in the west and north) and industrial centers on the coast.

The main driver behind China’s hydrogen policy is largely the automotive industry lobby, particularly at the local level, and the need to prioritize investment in both electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles to ensure the dominance of Chinese cars in the future global automotive industry. Furthermore, the nation has not yet taken significant strides towards achieving the decarbonization of its industry and integrating the use of green hydrogen within it. This is particularly true for renewable hydrogen transport within the country, a crucial dimension for the Chinese hydrogen policy.

A hydrogen policy with Chinese characteristics

The hydrogen energy industry in China is characterized by dependencies in technical capacities and infrastructure. Consequently, China’s hydrogen strategy is designed to advance incrementally, through a partially decentralized approach that gives considerable authority to provincial governments. In order to accelerate the progress of green hydrogen, the Chinese central and local administrations have initiated policy measures aimed at fostering the emergence of a resilient hydrogen infrastructure with a focus on “hydrogen safety”: to ensure supply, the mastering of core technologies in a safe manner and only later, to drive the shift from fossil fuels to renewable hydrogen.

From the early stages of China's hydrogen development, local governments have played a crucial role in designing hydrogen development plans in accordance with their regional specificities. Some provinces are more ahead than national legislation is on green hydrogen. Four regional clusters (see below) including Guangdong, located in the Pearl River Delta region, and Inner Mongolia have been at the forefront of provincial hydrogen policies. Most focus on using hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles and associated infrastructure, like refueling stations. These plans include targets - which are more ambitious than the national ones - for expanding renewable hydrogen production and scaling up conventional hydrogen production in the chemical sector, based on the province's resource endowment in coal or renewables (for example in the Hebei province). Several local governments have taken an active approach to set up industrial funds to finance hydrogen projects. However, similarly to the national level, green hydrogen targets are not tied to carbon peaking or the decarbonization of industrial sectors. Provincial governments still prioritize industrial output over industrial decarbonization.

At the national governmental level, China's hydrogen strategy is part of the State Council’s Five-Year Plans. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), operating through the National Energy Administration (NEA), is the primary institution responsible for overseeing China's hydrogen policy and deployment. However, various other national and local institutions also contribute to this process, asChina's hydrogen policy is mostly a decentralized issue.

  • The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
  • The National Energy Administration (NEA)
  • The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT):
    • Promotes and coordinates the development and the use of new energy vehicles, including the fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)
    • Contributes to setting technical standards for hydrogen infrastructure
  • The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST):
    • Promotes innovation in hydrogen technology
  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MHURD):
    • Establishes regulation for hydrogen infrastructure
  • The Standardization Administration of China (SAC):
    • Sets technical standards for hydrogen infrastructure
  • The Ministry of Transportation (MoT):
    • Promotes the use of FCEVs
  • The Ministry of Finance (MoF):
    • Oversees the design of subsidy schemes for supporting hydrogen development
    • Grants subsidies for FCEVs
  • China Development Bank(CDB):
    • Provides financing for FCEVs


Hydrogen policy to date

In practice, China's hydrogen policy is primarily designed to support fuel cell vehicles and related infrastructure to position them as a potential alternative to battery electric vehicles. However, the Chinese authorities have also recently recognized the role of hydrogen in decarbonizing critical industrial sectors. This shift in focus is reflected in new pieces of legislation that came into effect from the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025).

The Chinese government's objective is to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and prioritize energy security. However, if authorities believe that hydrogen could play a role in improving energy security, this has yet to be reflected concretely in China's policy. In reality, many Chinese policies emphasize the necessity of transitioning to a completely renewable hydrogen supply in the future. Nonetheless, specific goals for the demand side of industrial processes are still lacking in these documents.

  • Green Industry Guidance  (2019) - designed by the NDRC, the MIIT, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of the Environment, MHURD, People’s Bank of China (PBoC) and the NEA
  • Catalogue of Projects Supported by Green Bonds(2021) - designed by the NDRC, the PBoC and the China Securities Regulatory Commission :
    • Specify the following hydrogen projects as eligible for financial support: hydrogen storage facilities; hydrogen fuel cells; hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; gaseous hydrogen blending into gas pipelines
    • Type of support: preferential loans, subsidies, industrial funds, preferential tax treatment, green bonds and potential financial incentives via the carbon trading market
  • China 1+N Policy Action Plan on Decarbonization (2022) - support the development of hydrogen energy industry and require the coordinated promotion of:
    • The whole chain development of hydrogen energy: "production, storage, transmission and use"
    • The acceleration of the research and development of hydrogen energy technology and demonstration application
    • Exploring the large-scale application in industry, transportation, construction and other fields
  • Mid-and-Long-Term Hydrogen Industrial Development Plan (2021-2035) (2022) - Designed by the NDRC, China’s policy planner and the National Energy Administration, it is part of the 1+N policy action plan. It is the main Chinese policy on hydrogen. It encourages investment in the hydrogen sector and is the first policy to broadly consider hydrogen as a critical tech to decarbonize the industrial sector

The China Hydrogen Alliance was established in 2018 as a collaborative platform between prominent institutional actors and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to discuss hydrogen. In 2020, this institution issued a non-official policy document called the Standard and Evaluation of Low-carbon Hydrogen, Clean Hydrogen, and Renewable Hydrogen. This document is expected to shape the future of hydrogen projects in China and sets standards for hydrogen production, serving as a benchmark for industry. The Chinese standard does not impose any restrictions on production processes allowing for hydrogen to be produced from any source. Instead, similarly to the US approach, it qualifies different types of hydrogen according to their production process and their CO2 emissions:

  • Low-carbon hydrogen: ≤ 14,51 Kg CO2 emissions per kilogram of hydrogen, higher than the average estimate of gas produced H2 (around 9 Kg for Gas, 22 Kg for Coal)
  • Renewable hydrogen: ≤ 4,9 Kg CO2 emissions per kilogram of hydrogen, max 3,4 Kg CO2 emissions per kilogram of hydrogen in European standard

The Mid-and-Long-Term Hydrogen Industrial Development Plan (2021-2035) is China's most comprehensive hydrogen strategy to date. Although it is not solely focused on green hydrogen, the plan sets a modest target for renewable hydrogen production (100,000 to 200,000 tons annually) by 2025 in its supply-side aspect. The plan also declares that developing the hydrogen economy should not increase carbon emissions. It aims to enhance the efficiency of hydrogen production based on renewable energy sources and reduce foreign dependencies by scaling up and increasing the productivity of related Chinese production equipment by 2030, facilitated by "supportive electricity prices" and the establishment of technical standards. Moreover, the plan acknowledges that hydrogen energy storage technologies are critical to decarbonize the Chinese grid and presents a potential bottleneck for hydrogen development in China. Ultimately, the plan seeks to establish a multi-functional hydrogen power application system by 2035.

The demand side of China's hydrogen policy aims to incentivize the purchase of fuel cell vehicles and includes targets for fuel cells, initially for heavy-duty vehicles and eventually for passenger vehicles (with a target of 50,000 fuel cell vehicles by 2025). The National Hydrogen Development Plan is also the first to recognize the role of hydrogen in decarbonizing industrial sectors such as steel and chemicals. To achieve this, it seeks to promote the use of renewable hydrogen as a source of industrial heat and to replace fossil fuels in ammonia and methanol production, as well as in the refinery sector. The National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration are driving this initiative to support the coupling of the coal-chemical industry and green hydrogen development while promoting the use of renewable hydrogen as raw materials in chemical production. Furthermore, the Implementation Plan of Carbon Peaking of Industry (2022) also supports the role of hydrogen in decarbonizing the cement sector.

Although Chinese official texts have acknowledged the importance of green hydrogen, their strategy still lacks any defined targets that link the development of green hydrogen to industrial decarbonization and reaching peak emissions. However, China has started to test hydrogen in some industrial processes, for example for steel production in late 2022.

Funding and support

It is not entirely clear how much public funding (including SOEs) has been allocated to hydrogen projects in China, including to green hydrogen initiatives. More accurately, according to a Chinese consultant firm, approximately 71.2 billion yuan (US$10.33 billion) is invested annually in hydrogen projects. Although a significant portion of the funding for green hydrogen is directed towards New Energy Vehicles (NEVs) and fuel cells technologies, various projects are eligible for funding, such as clean hydrogen production, hydrogen refueling stations, hydrogen storage facilities and gaseous hydrogen blending into gas pipelines. National and local policies also provide various funding instruments for green hydrogen projects.

However, there isn’t a multilevel funding system favoring green hydrogen over carbonized hydrogen in China.

The hydrogen energy industry in China faces several challenges in terms of commercialization, profitability, production cost and industrial chain scale. Most project financing methods are based on equity financing, which limits capital investment in the industry, leading to a mismatch between supply and demand. Additionally, the green hydrogen technology development and hydrogen energy application areas are not currently included in the Green Bond Support Catalogue and Green Industry Guidance Catalogue, which limits the financial support available (see below) and narrows the financing channel for the hydrogen energy industry.

  • Preferential loans
  • Subsidies:
    • For NEV purchase (2021): 30% reduction for private use; 20% for public use, directly to consumer
    • The Dual Credit Policy for NEV (including FCEVs): enables automakers to earn credits by surpassing their NEV production targets, which can be used to offset any shortfalls in meeting their fleet's fuel consumption targets
    • For refueling station: city reward scheme
  • Industrial funds: national and local ones, intended to be profitable
  • Preferential tax treatment - example: NEV owners are exempted from vehicle ownership and vehicle purchase taxes
  • Green bonds: by companies or financial institutions, under traditional bond rate
  • Reduced renewable electricity price (local level): for green hydrogen production, at provincial level
  • Local industrial fund: industrial funds in China combine public and private financing to support investments in strategic emerging industries. These funds aim to generate returns for investors, while also encouraging private actors to participate in promoting the development of hydrogen, as encouraged by local governments.
  • Potential financial incentives via the carbon trading market (CN ETS):
    • Through coverage expansion: extending the ETS to cover fuel consumption in the transport sector (supporting NEVs, including FCEVs) or to cover industrial sectors such as refinery, petrol-chemical, steel, paper, and cement industries, making fossil fuel alternatives more expensive. This scenario is not the path taken today.
    • Offsets using the Chinese Certified Emission Reduction scheme (CCER): hydrogen-related offsets eligible in the CN ETS could support hydrogen development

Source : National Hydrogen Development Plan and three other national policies taken in 2019, 2020, 2021

The challenges of an uneven renewable energy distribution

The Chinese green hydrogen policy encounters similar challenges as the general chinese energy transition policy whereby supply and demand are geographically separated, with supply being located in Western and Northern China and demand in coastal and Southern China. That’s why national policies are calling for the development of hydrogen trade between provinces. To facilitate this, the government wants new hydrogen pipelines to improve the limited existing infrastructure. Additionally, it aims to develop "Chinese" storage technologies, with an emphasis on gaseous form and long-term R&D in liquid form. However, it is up to provincial governments to concretely solve these issues, especially regarding intra-China green hydrogen trade, which trigger competition between provinces to attract national subsidies.

It is true that China's hydrogen development is primarily a local affair, with its focus on four major clusters (city alliance) situated in heavily industrialized regions with renewable potential: the Hebei Region, Beijing, the Shanghai/Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, and the Henan. Additionally, the Inner Mongolia province, with its rich renewable endowment, is clearly taking a lead in green hydrogen development. While new projects are emerging in other parts of the country, they are predominantly supported by prominent Chinese SOEs.

An organized development

Beyond local and national public investments, the Chinese hydrogen development policy gives specific roles to SOEs, private companies and even foreign companies. Chinese SOEs play a major role in large-scale and capital-intensive hydrogen projects. They are subsidy-dependent and rely on existing petrol and gas assets for hydrogen investments that are not always profitable. They are mainly involved in the construction of hydrogen refueling stations and pipelines. Private companies play a role in establishing the green hydrogen value chain and are investing in less capital-intensive hydrogen projects such as equipment manufacturing (electrolysers), R&D of specific hydrogen technologies (innovation for storage and transport) and play a central role in R&D in liquid hydrogen development.

  • Sinopec: it currently produces 14% of China's hydrogen, primarily from industrial by-products. However, it has recently started producing  green hydrogen in provinces with ample renewable energy capacity, such as Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia (where it built the biggest green hydrogen factory in the world to date), which have potential applications in the chemical industry. Additionally, it is investing in refueling stations in industrial clusters and planning to invest in storage capacity.
  • State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC): it produces green hydrogen using renewable electricity and is actively engaged in collaborations to develop electrolyzers, including partnerships with Siemens. It also blends gas with hydrogen and promotes the use of FCEVs in industrial regions.
  • China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC): strategically owning the majority of Chinese pipelines, the company intends to play a significant role in transporting hydrogen between the provinces where it is produced and consumed (through its subsidiary PipeChina (see below)). Moreover, it is now investing in research and development as well as new projects.
  • China National Oil & Gas Piping Network Company (PipeChina): established in 2020 with 30% ownership by CNPC, this company operates and owns pipelines and is poised to make a significant contribution towards the development of hydrogen transport infrastructure. Their plans include the construction of a hydrogen pipeline and the blending of gas and hydrogen.


China has some world-leading green hydrogen sector companies such as LONGi (hydrogen equipment), ALLY HI-TECH (hydrogen producer), and Ningxia Baofeng Energy (the chemical company responsible for the world's largest green hydrogen project implemented). Some of these companies have investment capacity multiple times greater than their Western competitors. Finally, due to technological dependencies, the Chinese government grants a role to foreign companies. They are encouraged to manufacture hydrogen-related technology and equipment in China and they receive "preferential treatment" to develop these projects. These, of course, are joint ventures with Chinese companies and this strategy echoes a need to develop capacity and technological breakthroughs in China. The main foreign companies involved in China’s hydrogen economies involve Toyota, Hyundai and Bosch for FCEVs, Air Liquide, Siemens, and Ballard for hydrogen processing. 

China and the geopolitics of hydrogen

China's current hydrogen strategy does not seem to be primarily motivated by hydrogen geopolitics. China has enough renewable potential and industrial demand not to be vulnerable to the nascent international hydrogen market. The debate about whether China should import or export hydrogen does not play a prominent role in Chinese policy efforts. If it were not for its remaining technological dependencies,  China would have a sense of complete autonomy in the hydrogen sector. Resolving these dependencies would, in fact, be an opportunity for the country to reduce its energy dependence in the future while potentially gaining crucial technological advantages. Although China is beginning to recognize the importance of hydrogen for industry decarbonization and the potential technological benefits, it brings to bear less pressure to deploy green hydrogen as quickly as other developed countries, such as the EU, Japan or the USA.

However, there are nonetheless three international dimensions to Chinese hydrogen policies:

  • First to establish the necessary conditions to bridge the technology gap by enticing foreign companies to manufacture these technologies in China, driven by the opportunity to earn considerable profits catering to the country's potentially substantial demand.
  • Second, by collaborating in the elaboration of international technical standards, particularly for fuel cells.
  • Third, by becoming a manufacturer of cheap hydrogen process technologies to supply the future hydrogen market. China could supply electrolyzers at the lowest cost to countries that intend to become hydrogen hubs, such as Australia and the Gulf countries, as well as to importer countries for their domestic production. In this regard, China is in direct competition with European electrolyzer manufacturers and could greatly benefit from the development of hydrogen as a "new commodity" exchanged in the global market.

The Chinese government intends to promote Chinese technologies for export, starting with fuel cells, through the Belt and Road Initiative. However, this is still relatively modest in scope.

Europe and the Chinese Hydrogen Strategy

When it comes to their hydrogen strategies, the EU  and China adopt significantly different approaches.

For starters, China lacks industrial decarbonization targets compared to the EU. It has a carbon neutrality objective for 2060 ( compared to 2050 for the EU) and a completely different position in the future green hydrogen market. Europe is technologically a bit more advanced, despite a higher cost in Europe for manufacturing electrolyzers. Given it has fewer renewable endowment, the EU will need to import some of its carbon-free hydrogen. Without access to a cheap supply from renewable-rich countries, the EU will hardly remain competitive. China, on the other hand, has already significantly reduced the cost of early generation electrolyzers compared to its Western competitors and is working to bridge the technological gap. China's delay in setting industrial peak targets gives it time to catch up with its technological gap with Western competitors. Finally, unlike the EU, China does not need to import green hydrogen for its decarbonization as it has enough renewable resources to produce domestically. Instead, its challenge is domestic: connecting producer and consumer regions.

While the EU has a clear green hydrogen strategy that includes an industrial decarbonization policy, strict quantitative targets and hourly provisions to ensure grid safety, China does not yet have one. Chinese policies do not include binding rules for green hydrogen production, nor do they have concrete quantitative targets or stringent policies to regulate the carbon content of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen. Instead, China is biding its time, by waiting for two things. First, learning from others, such as the EU and Japan to learn from their experience with green hydrogen policies. Second, and more importantly, by waiting for its own market players to be ready to compete with equal level technologies on the global market.

Renewable hydrogen is the next big thing in China and the country is aiming to take its share of the hydrogen technology market. The size of its green hydrogen market is potentially so big that it cannot afford to let it be dominated by foreign technologies. As a result, China is postponing the implementation of binding targets for renewable hydrogen production until the opportune moment arises. Rather than aspiring to be the international hydrogen supply market, China is focusing on gaining technologies it lacks from other countries in order to lower costs dramatically to gain market dominance and energy independence.

For the hydrogen transport, liquefaction, storage, distribution market, competition will probably be open for the time being. However, in the electrolyzer market, once China gains technology parity, this will have consequences for European actors and the European hydrogen policy. Since China is particularly good in cost reduction through economies of scale, driven by a growing domestic and global demand, Chinese manufacturers could take a significant role in reducing green hydrogen production cost globally. This, however, could be detrimental to the incumbent European players, who would face stiff competition, particularly in third markets. Chinese hydrogen actors will however encounter similar obstacles to their Japanese and European counterparts when it comes to constructing large-scale electrolyzer projects that demand expertise and proficiency in complex integration processes. Consequently, international collaboration will continue to be imperative, even for China, particularly in areas where there are synergies with other nations.

The author acknowledges that the RIFS report “China’s emerging hydrogen economy“  and the OIS report “China’s hydrogen development: A tale of three cities” were significant sources used for this analysis. The author also thanks Mr. Mickael Naouri from Air Liquide China for his review of this paper.


Copyright Image : Alex HALADA / AFP

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