Japan Announces Roadmap for Hydrogen Introduction

2014/07/03 21:33
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute

Hydrogen/fuel Cell Strategy Council (chair: Takao Kashiwagi, a specially-appointed professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology), which was set up by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), announced the "Hydrogen/fuel Cell Strategy Roadmap" June 23, 2014.

The roadmap describes three steps in the introduction of hydrogen-based technologies using, for example, fuel cells and sets a goal for each step.

Phase 1, which is expected to last until about 2025, is defined as a period in which the use of hydrogen will rapidly expand. The goal set by the roadmap for this phase is to increase the number of residential fuel cell units in Japan to 1.4 million in 2020 and 5.3 million in 2030 and the number of hydrogen stations for fuel cell vehicles to 100 in 2015.

Also, the council aims to commercialize a fuel cell vehicle in 2015, fuel cell bus in 2016 and commercial/industrial fuel cell system using SOFCs (solid oxide fuel cells) in 2017.

Phase 2, which is supposed to begin in the mid 2020s and end in about 2030, is defined as a period in which hydrogen-based power generation will be introduced on a full scale and large-scale hydrogen supply systems will be established.

The goal for this phase is to purchase hydrogen from foreign countries at a price of about ¥30/m3 (approx US$0.29), expand the domestic hydrogen distribution network for commercial purposes, manufacture/transport/store hydrogen derived from unused energy in foreign countries on a full scale, fully utilize hydrogen for power generation business, etc.

Phase 3, which will begin from about 2040, is defined as a period for the establishment of CO2-free hydrogen supply system. The goal for this phase is to realize the full-scale production/transportation/storage of hydrogen that does not emit CO2 by collecting and storing CO2 (CCS: carbon dioxide capture and storage) and combining domestic and foreign renewable energies.

As a technical challenge in achieving this goal, the roadmap cited the verification of (1) a low-cost, stable and high-efficiency water electrolysis technology in accordance with the output fluctuations of wind and solar power generation systems and (2) a system that absorbs the temporal and geographical unevenness of wind/solar power generation by using the water electrolysis technology.