The Japanese government plans to enact a new law during the regular session of the Diet this month to financially support industries involved in the production and establishment of hydrogen and ammonia supply chains and related infrastructure. Needless to say, the envisioned legislation is designed to further Japan’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
The law includes regulations to exclude companies seeking to produce hydrogen or ammonia using environmentally harmful methods from government subsidies. This means that the Japanese government will subsidize businesses that can produce and handle “clean” hydrogen and ammonia.
At the 7th Hydrogen Policy Subcommittee held in December last year, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) compiled a provisional proposal for building a supply chain system by around 2030, with the aim of expanding the use of hydrogen and ammonia. rice field. in the country. The plan proposed that the Japanese government subsidize the price difference between two substances, hydrogen and ammonia, and existing fuels (fossil fuels) for 15 years.New subsidy system (so-called Nesakhoten Hydrogen prices are cross-referenced to liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices, while ammonia prices are compared to coal prices.
The Japanese government also decided on its future energy policy at the GX Executive Committee chaired by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. At a meeting on December 22, Prime Minister Kishida said, “In order to accelerate our response to the energy crisis, it is essential to make steady efforts to gain the trust of the people and regions concerned.” The Kishida administration’s energy strategy calls for more than ¥7 trillion in subsidies over the next 10 years to develop hydrogen and ammonia supply networks.
The Kishida administration is planning to enact a new law in order to prepare the legal basis for a subsidy of 7 trillion yen toward decarbonization and the realization of a hydrogen society.
In particular, in the House of Councilors election in July 2022, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito have pledged in their manifesto to promote Japan’s policies on hydrogen and ammonia.
One of the strong facilitators of Japan’s hydrogen energy policy is Yuko Obuchi of the Liberal Democratic Party, who is sometimes called Japan’s “political princess” because of her status as the daughter of former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. This is the Diet Members’ League for the Promotion of a Hydrogen Society, led by Diet members. Candidate for future female prime minister of Japan. On December 8, Prime Minister Obuchi requested Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura to enact a new bill to promote a hydrogen society. On December 14, Mr. Obuchi and the parliamentary group made a formal request to Mr. Kishida to support the promotion of a hydrogen society at the prime minister’s official residence on December 14.
Building on the carbon neutrality goals declared by former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in October 2020, the Japanese government and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization have jointly established a 2 trillion yen ($16 billion) Green Innovation (GI) Fund. Did. The fund aims to subsidize 10 years of continuous support for company-led decarbonization projects from research and development (R&D) to social implementation.
Various hydrogen-related projects have been adopted based on the GI Fund. Ongoing projects include:
- Establishment of fuel ammonia supply chain;
- Utilization of hydrogen in the steelmaking process;
- Development of next-generation vessels including hydrogen and ammonia fueled vessels.
- Development of next generation aircraft including hydrogen aircraft.
- Development of plastic raw material manufacturing technology using hydrogen, carbon dioxide, etc.
- Hydrogen production by electrolysis of water using electricity derived from renewable energy.When
- Development of transportation, storage, and power generation technologies for building an international hydrogen supply chain.
One of the projects led to the Suiso Frontier, the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier, successfully transporting liquefied hydrogen from Australia to Japan last year.
Financial support by the Japanese government under the GI Fund will help accelerate the building of a hydrogen society, but hydrogen is not fully commercialized in Japan or globally. Similarly, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are much more expensive than other vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs). Since Toyota Motor Corporation launched Mirai, the world’s first hydrogen FCV, in 2014, the Japanese government has been strictly promoting hydrogen energy policy. However, the number of hydrogen stations was limited, and the spread of FCVs faced difficulties in terms of vehicle prices and the number of hydrogen stations nationwide.
and Tweet On June 11, 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk dismissed fuel cells as “silly sales,” bragging about the competitiveness of EVs over FCVs. As The Japan Times reported last month, most major automakers expect EVs to make up the majority of car sales by 2030, with Musk’s Tesla forecasting a third quarter of 2022. , the profit per car was nearly eight times that of Toyota.
That doesn’t mean that FCVs have completely lost business opportunities. If anything, automakers in European and Asian countries continue to invest and improve their production and promotion of FCVs. For example, AFC Energy (based in the UK), Topsoe (Denmark), Hopium (France), and SFC Energy (Germany) are major players in his FCV technology market in Europe. As Asia’s economic powerhouse, China has ignored Mr. Musk’s warnings and continued to produce and sell FCVs. South Korea is also promoting the construction of a hydrogen ecosystem and supporting the spread of FCVs.
Importantly, given the fact that Toyota, the world’s second-largest automaker, has a consistent strategic commitment to FCVs, working with Honda, FCVs “could threaten Tesla.” pointed out. As such, major Japanese and global automakers still see FCVs as promising, arguing that they could become Tesla’s “greatest threat” in the future. For example, when it comes to charging, FCVs are superior to EVs because a hydrogen station can charge a hydrogen tank in less than 5 minutes, whereas an EV takes about 15 minutes to charge from 30% to 50%. It takes about an hour for the EV to be fully charged at the charging station.
Meanwhile, Japan and the United States are trying to increase the number of hydrogen stations. In the US, in recent years, Toyota and Honda have been working with Shell to expand the hydrogen refueling network in California. Shell also worked with Hyundai to expand hydrogen stations across the state. At the same time, the Japanese government is trying to increase the number of hydrogen stations from 166 to about 1,000 by 2030. Strategically important during the energy crisis exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing war.
From December 17th to 18th, Toyota President Akio Toyoda himself took part in the 25-hour endurance race held in Thailand in a GR Corolla powered by liquefied hydrogen. Fueled by hydrogen, the GR Corolla has twice the cruising range of its predecessor, and will make its official debut at the endurance race near Mt. Fuji on February 23rd.
As the example of the GR Corolla shows, technological innovations in the fields of hydrogen energy and FCVs, which until now were considered technically impossible, are still viewed as promising. The Kishida government certainly believes that the dream of a hydrogen society is worth pursuing. The enactment of a new bill is expected as the first issue in this year’s ordinary session of the Diet.