Japan Looks to Promote a Hydrogen Society

At the next regular session of the Diet to be held this month, the Japanese government plans to enact new legislation to financially support industries that are involved in the production and establishment of hydrogen and ammonia supply chains, as well as the development of relevant infrastructure. It goes without saying that the planned legislation is designed to facilitate Japan’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

The legislation will include regulations to exclude from government subsidy companies that intend to produce hydrogen or ammonia using environmentally hazardous methods. In other words, the Japanese government will subsidize companies that can produce and handle “clean” hydrogen and ammonia.

During the seventh meeting of the hydrogen policy subcommittee held in December last year, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) compiled a interim arrangement plan establish a supply chain system around 2030 with a view to expanding the use of hydrogen and ammonia in the country. The plan proposed that the Japanese government subsidize the price difference between the two substances (hydrogen and ammonia) and existing fuels (fossil fuels) for 15 years. In the new subsidy system (called nesahoten in Japanese), the price of hydrogen will be intersected with the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG), while the price of ammonia will be compared with that of coal.

The Japanese government also decided on the future energy policy at a session of the GX Implementation Tip, chaired by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. At the December 22 meeting, Kishida stated, “Continued efforts to win the trust of the public and the local communities involved are indispensable to speed up policy measures to deal with an energy crisis.” According to the Kishida administration’s energy strategy, more than 7 trillion yen Grants will be offered over the next 10 years to establish a hydrogen and ammonia supply network.

The Kishida government plans to enact the new legislation to provide the legal basis for this 7 trillion yen subsidy to achieve decarbonization and the creation of a hydrogen society.

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In particular, during the upper house elections held in July 2022, both the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito, the ruling parties, pledged in their manifestos to promote Japan’s policy on hydrogen and ammonia.

A powerful facilitator of Japan’s hydrogen energy policy is the Parliamentary League for the Promotion of the Hydrogen Society, led by Obuchi Yuko, a LDP lawmaker occasionally described as Japan’s “political princess” due to her daughter status. of former Prime Minister Obuchi Keizo and one of the candidates for a future Japanese Prime Minister. Obuchi required METI Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi will establish new legislation to promote a hydrogen society on December 8. On December 14, Obuchi and the parliamentary league also made a official request for Kishida to support the promotion of a hydrogen society in the prime minister’s office.

Based on the carbon neutrality goal declared by former Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide in October 2020, the Japanese government established the 2 trillion yen ($16 billion) Green Innovation (GI) Fund along with the Development Organization of Industrial Technology and New Energies. The fund is intended to subsidize 10 years of ongoing support for business-led decarbonization projects as they move from research and development (R&D) to societal implementation.

Based on the GI Fund, a variety of hydrogen related projects have been adopted. Ongoing projects include:

  1. Establishment of a combustible ammonia supply chain;
  2. Use of hydrogen in the steel manufacturing process;
  3. Next generation ship development, including hydrogen/ammonia fueled ships;
  4. Development of next generation aircraft, including hydrogen aircraft;
  5. Development of production technologies for plastic raw materials using, among others, hydrogen and carbon dioxide;
  6. Hydrogen production by electrolysis of water using electricity derived from renewable energy among other sources; Y
  7. Development of transport, storage and energy generation technologies for the establishment of an international hydrogen supply chain.

One of the projects resulted in the world’s first liquefied hydrogen transport vessel, swiss borderwhich successfully transported liquefied hydrogen from Australia to Japan last year.

Financial support from the Japanese government based on the GI Fund helps facilitate the creation of a hydrogen society, but hydrogen is not fully commercialized in Japan or the world at large. Similarly, the price of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) is considerably higher than that of other cars, including electric vehicles (EVs). In 2014, Toyota Motor Corporation launched Mirai, the world’s first hydrogen FCV, and the Japanese government has rigorously eased its hydrogen power policy ever since. However, the number of hydrogen generators is limited and the promotion of FCVs has faced difficulties regarding the price of vehicles and the number of hydrogen generators nationwide.

in a cheep On June 11, 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk dismissed fuel cells as “dumb sales,” boasting about the competitiveness of EVs versus FCVs. As reported in Japan times Last month, most major automakers expected EVs to account for the majority of vehicle sales by 2030, with Musk’s Tesla making nearly eight times as much profit per vehicle as Toyota in the third quarter of 2022.

That being said, FCVs have not completely lost their business opportunity. In any case, automakers in European and Asian countries have continued to invest and improve their FCV production and promotion. For example, AFC Energy (based in the UK), Topsoe (Denmark), Hopium (France) and SFC Energy (Germany) are the main players in the FCV technology market in Europe. As Asia’s economic superpower, Porcelain has defied Musk’s warnings and has continued to produce and promote FCV. South Korea It has also promoted the creation of the hydrogen ecosystem and supported the promotion of FCV.

It is important to note that it has been he pointed that FCVs “may still threaten Tesla” given that Toyota, the world’s second-largest automaker, has made consistent and strategic commitments to FCVs in collaboration with Honda. Therefore, major automakers in Japan and the world still find FCVs promising, and has been argued that FCVs could be Tesla’s “biggest threat” going forward. In terms of recharging, for example, FCVs are superior to EVs because the hydrogen tank can be recharged in less than five minutes at a hydrogen station, while EVs take about 15 minutes to charge from 30 to 50 percent. . Electric vehicles take about an hour to fully recharge at a charging station.

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Meanwhile, both Japan and the United States have tried to increase the number of hydrogen stations. In the United States, Toyota and Honda have collaborated with Shell to increase the hydrogen refueling network in California in recent years. Shell has also collaborated with Hyundai to expand its hydrogen stations in the state. At the same time, the Japanese government has tried to increase the number of hydrogen stations from 166 to about 1,000 by 2030. Given the cruising distance of FCVs, an increase in the number of hydrogen stations in the United States and Japan could be strategically important amid the energy crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing war.

On December 17 and 18, Toyota Chairman and CEO akio toyoda himself, at the wheel of a GR Corolla powered by liquefied hydrogen, took part in a 25-hour endurance race held in Thailand. The hydrogen-powered GR Corolla’s cruising distance has doubled compared to the previous model, and its official debut race is scheduled for February 23, in an endurance race to be held near Mount Fuji.

As the case of the GR Corolla shows, technological innovation in the field of hydrogen power and FCVs remains promising, despite being thought to be technically unfeasible in the past. The Kishida administration certainly believes that the dream of the hydrogen society is worth pursuing. He is expected to successfully promulgate the new legislation as one of his first tasks this year during the ordinary session of the National Diet.

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