Japan furthers hydrogen, fuel cell strategy

October 20, 2014

The new energy policy outlines plans to decrease Japan’s nuclear dependence as much as possible, while boosting renewable energy sources. At the same time, it also says the government will promote the use of hydrogen to pave the way for a “hydrogen society.”

“Hydrogen, which can achieve high energy efficiency, low environmental burden and capability for emergency use, provided appropriate usage, is expected to play a central role as a secondary energy source,” the government’s policy report said.

Reflecting growing demand for alternative forms of energy that are clean and efficient, automakers are set to sell their first commercial fuel-cell vehicles, powered by hydrogen, starting next year.

Nedo (Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization) published a white paper on hydrogen energy in July that states the importance of promoting hydrogen-related products, which in Japan are expected to develop into a market worth 1 trillion yen ($9.4 billion) by 2030 and 8 trillion yen by 2050.

This would help strengthen Japan’s industrial competitiveness because it has the most fuel cell-related patents in the world. Fuel cells generate power through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. In 2009, Japan took the lead among other countries in selling fuel cells for home use to generate power and heat.

“Japan’s competitiveness in the field of hydrogen energy is strong. In particular, our auto industry, which is Japan’s key industry that accounts for 10% of the nation’s jobs and 20% of exports, is facing fierce global competition, so it is essential to maintain competitiveness with the new field of FCVs,” the white paper said.

History

In December 2013, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) established a Council for a Strategy for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells.

In June 2014, the council compiled a "Strategic Road Map for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells," published by METI.

On 28 July 2014, the Japanese government-affiliated New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) published a white paper on hydrogen energy. It stated the importance of promoting hydrogen-related products, which in Japan are expected to develop into a market worth 1 trillion yen ($9.4 billion) by 2030 and 8 trillion yen by 2050.

 

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