Govt to Set Target of Using 3 mil. tons of Hydrogen by 2030 to Decarbonize Japan

Yomiuiri Shimbun file photo
A hydrogen gas turbine that supplies neighboring facilities with electricity is seen in Kobe in December 2017.

The government intends to urge major electric power companies and other entities to use hydrogen as an energy source and will also raise numerical targets significantly in its growth strategy, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

According to the strategy for the hydrogen industry, scheduled to be compiled soon, the government will aim to increase the annual amount of hydrogen used from the current 2 million tons to 3 million tons by 2030 and 20 million tons by 2050. This goal will be included in the time schedule for an action plan, to be drawn up by the end of the year, to realize a decarbonized society.

Under the Basic Hydrogen Strategy devised in late 2017, the government has focused on the development of hydrogen supply chains, among other matters. This time, it intends to dramatically raise the numerical targets for the amount of hydrogen used. The government has concluded that the use of hydrogen, which does not emit carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned, is indispensable for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Specifically, the government envisages having major electric power companies use hydrogen as a fuel for thermal power generation. A method of mixing hydrogen with natural gas and burning it is expected to be effective in curbing CO2 emissions. The government also plans to support the development of thermal power equipment that can generate electricity using only hydrogen.

Related legal systems will also be revised.

The Law on Sophisticated Methods of Energy Supply Structures seeks for electricity retailers to increase the percentage of nonfossil power sources in their electricity sales to 44% by fiscal 2030. Currently, nonfossil power sources are defined to include nuclear power, solar power, wind power, hydropower, geothermal power and biomass power, but hydrogen is likely to be added to this list.

The government intends to discuss this issue with an eye to increasing the percentage of nonfossil power sources beyond 44%. It is expected to set a goal at a level that would be difficult for companies and other entities to achieve without using hydrogen.

In addition to promoting the use of hydrogen, the government also plans to establish production and procurement systems for hydrogen. It intends to foster the hydrogen industry widely by using a fund of ¥2 trillion, which is aimed to support the research and development of decarbonization technologies. It is also setting its sights on exporting hydrogen-based power generation technology to other countries.

In Japan, the use of hydrogen has been limited to areas such as fuel cell vehicles and power generation at some facilities. Great demand for hydrogen is unlikely to arise on its own. In light of this, the government apparently wants to attract new investments by strategically enticing companies and other entities to use hydrogen as a fuel for thermal power generation.

Hydrogen has also drawn attention in the European Union, which has a population of about 440 million people and is making active efforts for decarbonization. The EU has set a goal of producing 10 million tons of hydrogen by 2030 and accelerated efforts to promote the use of the energy source.