12. Pilot projects by country

Source: (IchemSafe, 2020[7]) (China Corrosion and Protection Network, n.d.[8]) (CCTV News, 2021[9])

For the first time, China listed hydrogen as a form of energy in its energy portfolio in 2020, and only thereafter would hydrogen be included in the energy statistics released by the National bureau of statistics. As a result, a large proportion of the country's hydrogen pilot projects started in 2020 or later.

Being the largest country by population, China currently owns the largest water-electrolysis (2 GW) facilities (hydrogen production at 20 000 Nm3/h) in the world (Pilot Project 1) and there are plans to build an even larger facility (Xinhua News Agency, 2021[10]) for large-scale hydrogen production powered by renewable electricity. More than 30 cities have their own hydrogen plans and most of these plans involve hydrogen city bus operations. Besides the usual safety measures involving hydrogen use, our research suggests that most of the country's hydrogen vehicles are buses or larger vehicles for cargo transportation, reducing potential risks, given the fact that the drivers are trained acts as an extra safety measure.

With most of its pilot projects, as well as other hydrogen-related industries, operating without accidents, there were 4 hydrogen related accidents reported in the last 5 years: 2 at petrochemical production sites and 2 at refuelling facilities. While the former 2 are not within the scope of the current study the later 2 accidents were led by the same initiating event: Rupture of flexible hose connection. These hoses connect pressured hydrogen tubes to the refuelling facility and are crucial for the refuelling process. We therefore suggest that flexible hose connections should be thoroughly pressure tested before use, and potentially changed regularly.

Incidents – none reported in France.

Seven pilot projects were reviewed in France. Several projects aimed at deploying hydrogen ecosystems (dedicated not only to land but also sea mobility) were investigated. France is working on projects to install hydrogen production sites using water electrolysis but also intends to increase the number of hydrogen refuelling stations and hydrogen vehicles. It also seems to aim, specifically in one pilot, to optimise the integration of several solar photovoltaic farms supplying the electrolyser to minimise energy losses, limit grid congestion and enhance industrial safety thanks to the use of 3D digital models for each component of the installation. Moreover, a project with the first industrial demonstrator of power to gas with a power rating of 1 MWe for electrolysis and a methanation process with carbon capture was reported. In addition, another project attempting to inject hydrogen into the territory’s natural gas distribution network was launched via another project.

The projects seem to have run smoothly until now, since no accidents were reported.

Germany has plans of investing significant financial and research time into hydrogen transition. The next steps are aiming at producing and distributing green hydrogen. There are plans to establish 5 GW of generation capacity including offshore and onshore energy generation facilities by 2040 at the latest. However, since this covers only 1/7th of Germany’s projected energy demand for 2030, the gaps for energy demand are to be closed through import of hydrogen. Structural and infrastructure improvements through public-private partnerships and projects are also seeing a rise. At present, Germany has 90 hydrogen refuelling stations of which 45 (as of 2017) are publicly accessible. Plans are already in place for setting up a 1 200 km of pipeline network for hydrogen using existing natural gas pipelines- once again one of the largest pipeline networks in the world. However, publicly available data on safety studies and risk-assessment from pilot projects are scant and would require more research.

Five pilot projects were reviewed in Japan. Country-wide initiatives to promote the construction of hydrogen stations were found, with the aim to contribute to the efficient operation of hydrogen stations and to commercialise scale fuelling ability (also promoting reduction in costs by reviewing regulations and standardising equipment). Japanese companies were also found to complete the world’s first global existing hydrogen supply chain system. This move also marks the first consumption of foreign-produced hydrogen for power generation. In addition, the world-first hydrogen energy supply Chain Project aims to safely produce and transport clean liquid hydrogen from Australia to Japan. A key objective of the pilot project is to demonstrate an end-to-end supply chain between both countries. A Japanese consortium launched a renewable energy-powered 10 MW-class hydrogen production unit, the largest-class in the world.

The projects seem to have run smoothly until now, since no accidents were reported, making us assume that safety strategies followed were sufficient and effective.

Studies from Norway suggest that while steps are being taken towards energy transition to hydrogen, much of the focus is on the large-scale use of hydrogen, for instance in maritime and industrial use. This is not to say that no efforts have been made for small scale use of hydrogen. The country has ambitious plans of ramping up its hydrogen infrastructure and is in partnership with other Scandinavian nations concerning this. Several projects funded by ENOVA and the Research Council of Norway under the National Strategy are studying the risks and potential benefits emerging from hydrogen use in urban mobility, pipeline infrastructure, material selection etc. Results from these projects will be ready in the coming years. Evidence of results from previous studies is still low suggesting that much of the information may still not be publicly available.

Three incidents involving hydrogen leaks from HRSs have been recorded in Norway. The latest, in 2019, resulted in the leakage of 1.5 to 3 kg of hydrogen from high pressure storage due to human error. Another incident in 2012 was due to a defect in a dispenser hose, caused likely by the very low temperatures. Stricter outer perimeter requirements to shield public, stronger protocols from manufacturers and double witnesses at maintenance activities are some of the suggested mitigation measures to make HRSs safer.

Russia is one of the major energy producers with major companies such as Gazprom, Rusatom and Novatek leading at global level. With export of gas accounting for a great share of its economy, the country is focusing on seizing its opportunity on hydrogen by exploiting its advanced gas transportation infrastructure and its longstanding hydrogen production history for military and space exploration purposes. On this note the hydrogen strategy of the country is rounded up on three main pillars: Development of pilot projects for hydrogen exports, development of hydrogen clusters in the domestic market and development of fundamental and applied research on hydrogen.

The three main pillars support the production side with a focus on technologies for producing “grey” hydrogen in Russia. They are deployed at oil and gas processing plants (methane conversion) and power plants (electrolysis). All hydrogen produced is used onsite - for example, to improve the quality of hydrocarbon processing or in the cooling systems of power generators. Russia is focusing on projects to export hydrogen to targeted markets such as Japan and Germany/Europe.

Concerning the other 5 scenarios, few projects are in place, based mostly on three main production clusters to support key industries, all mostly based on the initiative by private companies.

The mobility sector is set to become the first hydrogen technology niche in Russia for a number of reasons: there are emerging Russian technology providers, concrete pilot projects (such as the Sakhalin hydro-gen train), and an interest on the part of investors. This is supported by the project of building several refuelling stations beyond the only one present in the country. An exception to the relatively new interest in hydrogen is provided by the state’s Space Program that has been experimenting on the use - as fuel for its rocket since the 1960s - of liquified hydrogen transported via road by tanks.

There is no evidence of projects concerning the residential use of hydrogen for domestic heating and cooking.

In 2019, South Korea published a roadmap for the promotion of a hydrogen-based economy focusing mainly on the use of hydrogen in the transportation sector, on decarbonising industry and buildings, and on the building of the necessary infrastructure for the production and distribution of hydrogen. With the eventual aim of powering 10% of the country with hydrogen by 2030, the Korean government identified three cities as “hydrogen pilot cities” (Ulsan, Ansan, and Wanju). These pilot cities will begin testing the application of hydrogen in transportation, industry, and space heating in 2022. A Hydrogen Law was put into place to lay the legal foundations for the government’s promotion of hydrogen and the implementation of safety standards for facilities. This law went into effect in 2021 and stipulates several important industrial strategy elements, such as supporting hydrogen-focused companies through research and development (R&D) subsidies, loans, and tax exemptions.

South Korea’s hydrogen strategy is very ambitious, but it is mainly focusing on the scale up of the production of carbon-intensive hydrogen generated by petrochemical plants or by natural gas reforming. As such, this strategy is not as climate-friendly as that of other countries’, since there are no immediate plans in place to decarbonise the industry sector.

A lot of South Korea’s R&D efforts revolve around liquefied hydrogen storage technology and the reduction of transportation costs. Additionally, the government’s long-term aim is to build a hydrogen pipeline network across the country, with the development of the appropriate infrastructure beginning in 2022. The Korean government has also committed $2.34 billion (2.14 billion euros) to the establishment of a public-private hydrogen vehicle industry by 2022.

A major accident took place in Gangneung, Korea in 2019, during a demonstration project involving electricity generation from hydrogen. The accident caused the deaths of two people and injured six. Hydrogen and buffer tanks in the facility exploded due to a static spark in the hydrogen buffer tank. Oxygen was present in the hydrogen tank due to wrong operation of a water electrolyser, which was coupled to solar panels. The accident could have been prevented if the proper operating and safety procedures had been followed. To prevent future incidents, investigation is required into the proper operating conditions for the electrolyser. The standardised performance and safety tests should also be improved, and further mitigation measures should be put into place, such as, e.g., an in-situ diagnostic system able to trigger emergency stops of the hydrogen production system and an automatic isolation of the storage.

The UK envisages hydrogen as a new low carbon solution which can help the UK to achieve net zero by 2050, and its Sixth Carbon Budget target by 2035. The main focus is to capture the economic benefits of growing the UK hydrogen economy, supporting innovation and stimulating investment to develop the supply chains and skills needed and create jobs and export opportunities for the UK. On this note the government is directly investing in hydrogen pilot projects working with industry to achieve a 5 GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 as set out in the 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution.

The government released its Hydrogen strategy in August 2021, outlining a comprehensive roadmap for the development of the wider hydrogen economy over the 2020s to deliver its 2030 5 GW ambition.

The strategy is centred around the production side and the use of the existing national infrastructure in the North Sea to further deploy hydrogen through the pipeline system. The major innovative push towards hydrogen for heating and cooking in domestic homes started with a blended mix of up to 20% v/v of hydrogen with natural gas. There is an aim to build a new set of refuelling stations, thus strengthening the recharging infrastructure services. Several private sector actors are running pilot projects on hydrogen use, often cooperating with universities and local governments participating in tenders and competitions for government funding.No major accidents are reported concerning the projects described.

The United States is investing massively in clean hydrogen production and in projects to facilitate hydrogen and natural gas blending into the existing infrastructure. Attempts have been made to create fully functional hydrogen-powered systems with the production of green hydrogen through electrolysis and its use to support transportation systems. There is emphasis placed on safety systems for gas and fire detection, comprehensive ventilation regimes etc.

In many states, there are plans to boost the supply of hydrogen vehicles and increase the provision of charging and refuelling stations. This is particularly the case for California, which has an operating fleet of 76 fuel cell buses. There are also currently 47 open retail hydrogen fuelling stations in the state. There are a number of reported accidents due to hydrogen leaks in refuelling stations- these are reported in Part IV of this report. In all accident cases, the role of the systems that shut down the flow of hydrogen in case of a leak had been vital and prevented further escalation and greater damage.


[5] Beijing Government Plan on Fuel Cell Vehicles, (2020), .

[4] Beijing Hydrogen Industry Development Plan (2021), , http://jxj.beijing.gov.cn/jxdt/tzgg/202104/P020210407385378711951.pdf.

[2] Bloomberg (2022), China Leading Race to Make Technology Vital for Green Hydrogen, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-09-21/china-leading-race-to-make-technology-vital-for-green-hydrogen?leadSource=uverify%20wall#xj4y7vzkg (accessed on 31 May 2023).

[9] CCTV News (2021), Fire in petrochemical production facility in Yunnan - 4 minor injuries, https://news.cctv.com/2021/12/13/ARTI22y6mUIF9sPnZWduZHQA211213.shtml.

[8] China Corrosion and Protection Network (n.d.), , http://www.ecorr.org.cn/news/industry/2020-01-20/176065.html.

[18] Cummins Inc. (2020), Cummins using hydrogen technology to enable renewable energy for public utilities in Washington with the largest PEM electrolyzer in the United States, https://www.cummins.com/news/releases/2020/08/26/cummins-using-hydrogen-technology-enable-renewable-energy-public-utilities.

[6] Haeseldonckx, D. and W. D’Haeseleer (2007), “The use of the natural-gas pipeline infrastructure for hydrogen transport in a changing market structure”, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Vol. 32/10-11, pp. 1381-1386, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2006.10.018.

[15] Harrison, K., G. Ramsden and W. Kramer (2009), “The Wind to Hydrogen Project: Operational Experience, Performance Testing and Systems Integration”.

[7] IchemSafe (2020), Investigation report on the ‘30th July’ fire event caused by (hydrogen) leakage in Guangdong, http://www.ichemsafe.com/sites/www/uploads/userfiles/files/Investigation%20Report/20200730%20dongguanjuzhenyuanqingqihuozai%20.pdf.

[1] IEA (2019), The Future of Hydrogen: Seizing today’s opportunities, OECD, Paris Cedex 16, https://doi.org/10.1787/1e0514c4-en.

[11] Kan, S. (2018), South Korea’s Hydrogen Strategy and Industrial Perspectives, Edito Energie, Ifri, https://www.ifri.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/sichao_kan_hydrogen_korea_2020_1.pdf.

[13] Keller, J., J. Hamilton and A. Harris (2019), “Unattended Hydrogen Vehicle Fuelling Challenges and Historical Context”, ICHS, https://hysafe.info/uploads/papers/2019/125.pdf.

[3] Meng, X. et al. (2021), “Status quo of China hydrogen strategy in the field of transportation and international comparisons”, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Vol. 46/57, pp. 28887-28899, https://doi.org/10.1016/J.IJHYDENE.2020.11.049.

[16] Ramsden, T., K. Harrison and D. Steward (2009), “Wind to Hydrogen Project: Renewable Hydrogen Production for Energy Storage and Transportation”, NREL.

[17] Rebenitsch, R., A. Boushee and J. Woeste (2009), “Wind-to-Hydrogen Energy Pilot Project: Basin ELectric Power Cooperative”.

[12] Stangarone, T. (2021), “South Korean efforts to transition to a hydrogen economy”, Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy, Vol. 23, pp. 509-516.

[14] Vrijil, M. et al. (2020`), “Analyses of hydrogen energy system as a grid management tool for the Hawaiian Isles”, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Vol. 45/15, pp. 8052-8066.

[10] Xinhua News Agency (2021), World’s largest solar energy water -electrolysis projected grounded in Kuche, Xinjiang, Xinhua News Agency, http://www.xinhuanet.com/energy/20211130/7d7a74eff26a4641ad692f3e9a2e73a7/c.html.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2023

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at https://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.