Fourteen Chinese manufacturers have been selected as winners in what is believed to be China’s largest ever public electrolyser tender, with the auction holder, state-owned China Energy Engineering Group (also known as Energy China) publicly revealing the winning bid prices — offering rare public insight into the cost of the machines.

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Eleven manufacturers won with bids for 5MW alkaline electrolysers averaging around ¥7.5m ($1.05m) each — $210,000 per MW — while five OEMs were chosen for their 1MW PEM machines, which cost an average of about ¥ 5.67m ($630,000) each (see table below for details).

Winning bid prices (in US dollars)
Manufacturer Type Price ($)
Sungrow Hydrogen ALK (5MW) 961,504
Wuxi Huaguang ALK (5MW) 992,758
Guangdong Shengqing ALK (5MW) 994,830
Trina Solar Hydrogen ALK (5MW)
Beijing Power Equipment Group ALK (5MW)
Tianjin Mainland Hydrogen ALK (5MW)
Shanghai Electric ALK (5MW)
Cockerill Jingli Hydrogen ALK (5MW)
Shuangliang Group ALK (5MW)
Peric ALK (5MW)
Longi Hydrogen ALK (5MW)
Shanghai Electric PEM (1MW) 484,680
Sungrow Hydrogen PEM (1MW) 567,209
BriHyNergy PEM (1MW) 626,741
SPIC Hydrogen PEM (1MW) 728,858
Cummins Enze PEM (1MW) 750,418

Energy China — which has begun construction of what will be the world’s largest green hydrogen project, using 640MW of electrolysers — said: “This bidding is for the procurement of hydrogen production equipment required for projects invested [in] or constructed by enterprises affiliated to the joint-stock company from December 2023 to November 2024. The total estimated quantity is 125 sets.”

The original tender notice for “Energy China's 2023 Hydrogen Production Equipment Centralised Procurement” states that the electrolysers would be used at projects that will be “mainly distributed at various construction sites in China”.

Hydrogen Insight understands that the equipment includes the electrolyser and the balance of plant, as there was no separate tender for the latter and the company does not manufacture equipment for the handling of gases or liquids.

Hydrogen Insight also understands that theprocurement will be split between 25 PEM electrolysers and up to 100 alkaline machines, although the total wattage, the individual allocation between manufacturers, and the projects where the electrolysers will be used have not yet been revealed.

All the winning manufacturers are based in China and owned by Chinese companies, with the exception of Cockerill Jingli, which is 100%-owned by Belgium’s John Cockerill, and Cummins Enze, which is a 50/50 joint venture between US-based Cummins and Chinese oil giant Sinopec.

As Hydrogen Insight revealed earlier this week, alkaline electrolysers manufactured by Cockerill Jingli, Peric and Longi have been underperforming at the world's current largest green hydrogen project, Sinopec’s 260MW Kuqa facility in Xinjiang, northwest China.

How do the prices compare with Western electrolysers?

Understandably, electrolyser makers rarely make public their asking prices, and only reveal them during negotiations with potential buyers under non-disclosure agreements.

They are also wary of comparing apples with oranges, as different electrolysers have different efficiencies, operating ranges, current densities and lifetimes, so comparing upfront cost alone is not particularly helpful in understanding the true levelised cost of hydrogen (LCOH) production.

Indeed, more expensive electrolysers are said to offer lower LCOH over project lifetimes than the cheapest machines.

Nevertheless, some organisations have published what they believe to be the average cost of electrolysers.

In a report from February, financial consultant EY put the average cost of alkaline electrolysers at $700-1,100 per kW ($700,000-1.1m per MW) — around three to five times higher than the average $210,000 per MW in the Energy China tender.

And it put the average cost of PEM electrolysers at $1,200-2,000 per kW ($1.2-2m/MW) — more than double the average $630,000/MW at the Chinese auction.

The International Energy Agency says the current average price of alkaline electrolysers is $500,000-1.4m/MW, with PEM at $1.1-1.8m/MW.

However, it is not entirely clear which parts of the electrolysis systems are included or not included in these figures, including the Energy China tender.

This article was updated on 14 December to include more details about the scope of the tender.