The Role of Cities in Hydrogen Energy Development

December 9th, 2022

R&D Focus Areas:
Hydrogen market development, Policy

Lead Organisation:
Australian National University (ANU)

Not applicable


Start date:
December 2019

Completion date:

Key contacts:
Distinguished Professor Xuemei Bai:
Dr. Yuan Peng:

Australia Centre on China in the World Strategic Research Spoke – Sustainable Urbanisation Australia Centre on China in the World Strategic Research Fund
Part of the ANU AUD$10 million 2019 – 2023 Grand Challenge Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific

Project total cost:
Not applicable

Project summary description:
The aim of this project is to investigate the role of cities in hydrogen energy development. Hydrogen energy from renewable sources has the potential to address climate challenges, and technological advancements are vital for driving this energy transition. Globally, an increasing number of cities are actively adopting hydrogen strategies. The literature on the urban sustainability transition primarily focuses on policy innovations for technology adoption, while the role of cities in enabling technological innovation, such as in hydrogen energy development, is underexplored.

This project addresses this gap by examining city-level hydrogen policies. A first research paper analysed 122 policy documents from 39 Chinese cities with hydrogen plans by using qualitative content analysis methods. The findings reveal myriad and critical roles of cities in fostering technological innovations in an emergent hydrogen economy via targeted policy support and investment in desired technologies.

By moving ahead of the national government, these early movers play a critical role in creating early momentum and laying the foundation for future scale transition. The research findings also point to a clear need for these bottom-up initiatives to be better guided and channelled toward clean hydrogen development, as the lack of upper-level policy guidance can lead to diversified priorities and outcomes.

The research findings call for renewed research and policy attention to the proactive role of cities in technological innovation and the sustainability transition and stress the importance of engaging cities in hydrogen economy development nationally and internationally (Peng and Bai, 2022).

The research will continue to explore the policy and market development of frontrunner cities worldwide to provide insights into industrial strategies and policymaking.

Related publications and key links:
Peng, Y., Bai, X. Cities leading hydrogen energy development: the pledges and strategies of 39 Chinese cities. npj Urban Sustain 2, 22 (2022).

Higher degree studies supported:
Not applicable


Reviewed: August 2023