Top Shipping Container Manufacturer Sees Soaring Hydrogen Revenue
China International Marine Containers Group Co. (CIMC), the world's largest manufacturer of shipping containers, has experienced a significant increase in revenues from its hydrogen business, indicating a growing commercial interest in clean fuel. The company specializes in producing electrolyzers, devices that generate hydrogen through the electrolysis of water, and storage containers for the gas. In 2023, CIMC generated approximately 1 billion yuan ($139 million) in sales from these activities, with expectations of more than doubling by 2025, according to Vice President Li Yinhui.
At an event in Shenzhen, where CIMC unveiled a new electrolyzer designed to operate efficiently with fluctuating power flows, Li Yinhui highlighted the technology's importance in producing green hydrogen. Green hydrogen is recognized as a critical element in decarbonizing heavy industries such as steel, cement, and chemicals and has potential applications in transportation and clean energy storage.
China currently holds a dominant position, accounting for approximately 72% of global electrolyzer production capacity, where electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases, according to BloombergNEF. CIMC, a state-owned enterprise, has been involved in manufacturing containers for hydrogen transportation since 2006 and expanded its portfolio by acquiring an electrolyzer factory in Yangzhou in 2022. This facility has the capacity to produce about 1 gigawatt per year of electrolyzers, making it the seventh-largest producer in China.
Despite the growth in the hydrogen sector, it remains a relatively small portion of CIMC's overall business, contributing less than 1% to the main listed unit's revenues in 2022. However, the company's new electrolyzer, equipped with advanced materials, allows it to operate safely at low loads, down to 20% of full capacity. This feature distinguishes it from other electrolyzers that must shut down during power fluctuations to mitigate the risk of flammable gas explosions, as experienced by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. at its green hydrogen plant in Xinjiang in the previous year.