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LCQ15: Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles
     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Hoi-yan and a written reply by the Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Mr Tse Chin-wan, in the Legislative Council today (April 26):

     As set out in the Hong Kong's Climate Action Plan 2050 announced in 2021, the Government plans to collaborate with franchised bus companies and other stakeholders to test out hydrogen fuel cell electric buses and heavy vehicles. Regarding hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (HFCEVs), will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the quantities of HFCEVs imported and exported in the past two years;

(2) whether it has set standards for the examination of imported HFCEVs; if so, of the details;

(3) of the number of vehicles and the routes involved in the aforesaid trial scheme and its implementation timetable;

(4) given that the aforesaid trial scheme will be subsidised by the Government from the New Energy Transport Fund, of the details of other projects subsidised by the Fund which are related to hydrogen transport (e.g. the contents of the projects, the scopes of the subsidies, the amounts of the subsidies and the implementation timetables); and

(5) whether it has set specific short-term targets for the use of HFCEVs, such as registering HFCEVs before 2025 and increasing the number of hydrogen refilling stations; if so, of the details?


     The Government announced the Hong Kong Roadmap on Popularisation of Electric Vehicles, Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong 2035, and Hong Kong's Climate Action Plan 2050 successively in March, June and October 2021, covering policy directions and future targets in different areas promoting the adoption of new energy transport technologies, so as to guide Hong Kong towards zero vehicular emissions before 2050 and attain carbon neutrality within the same timeframe.

     At present, hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) heavy vehicles are still at an early stage of development. Resources are mainly being invested in research and development, operational trials and supporting facilities worldwide. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has also set up the Inter-departmental Working Group on Using Hydrogen as Fuel (the Working Group), to coordinate preparation works of bureaux/departments for using hydrogen as fuel locally, with a view to encouraging local adoption of hydrogen energy. The Working Group comprises the Environment and Ecology Bureau, the Transport and Logistics Bureau (TLB), the Development Bureau, the Security Bureau, the Environmental Protection Department, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD), the Fire Services Department, the Transport Department, the Marine Department, the Planning Department, the Lands Department, the Buildings Department and the Architectural Services Department. Its first key task is to progressively commence the trials of HFC double-deckers and heavy vehicles in phases, taking local circumstances into account.
     In consultation with the TLB and the EMSD, my reply to the question raised by the Hon Chan is as follows:
(1) At present, there are no registered (or licensed) HFC vehicles in Hong Kong.
(2) and (3) The Working Group actively takes forward the trials of HFC double-deckers and heavy vehicles, and has set out the required interim standards for the first phase HFC vehicle trial projects (including the interim standards for examining HFC vehicles). The Working Group has given agreements-in-principle to a first batch of three applications of trial projects, among others, including trials for setting up a hydrogen refuelling facility at a bus depot and one HFC double-decker. The Working Group will continue to closely liaise with franchised bus companies involved in the trials, to deliberate on the way forward of the trials of HFC double-deckers (such as choosing suitable bus routes for the trials, exploring trials for more buses). Furthermore, the Working Group is planning to commence trials of HFC heavy vehicles for refuse collection or street cleansing. We expect to commence the trial of the first HFC double-decker within this year, and the trials of heavy vehicles next year.
(4) To assist the transport trade to commence the relevant trial projects, we have earmarked $200 million under the New Energy Transport Fund for subsidising relevant costs of the trial projects. Such costs include the procurement, construction or renting of HFC vehicles, establishment of hydrogen refilling facilities, operating costs (such as expenses on hydrogen fuel), etc. As of now, the New Energy Transport Fund has not received any application relating to HFC vehicles.
(5) In addition, tasks under the Working Group include conducting risk assessments on hydrogen refilling stations, the arrangements of hydrogen supply and HFC vehicles on road, as well as reviewing relevant regulations, standards and technical guidelines of different regions. Considering the data and field experience gathered in the trials, the Government will formulate an operational safety framework for the use of hydrogen fuel in the transportation sector locally in the long run. This includes amending the current Gas Safety Ordinance (Cap. 51), which regulates liquefied petroleum gas vehicles, to cover hydrogen fuel, with a view to effectively regulating HFC vehicles, hydrogen fuel supply chain and the safety of HFC vehicle mechanics and repair workshops. The HKSAR Government will follow the guiding principles stated in the country's "Medium and Long Term Plan for the Development of Hydrogen Energy Industry (2021-2035)", as well as take into account the experiences and research and development results of our country and other cities overseas, to consider how to adjust our development pace. Our target is to formulate the long-term strategies for the application of hydrogen energy in road transport by 2025, in order to help guide Hong Kong towards the target of zero vehicular emissions before 2050.
Ends/Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:30
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