Saturday, April 21, 2012

No. 492: Residential use fuel cell manufacturers grow more active (April 21, 2012)

Business trend
The residential use fuel cell is the equipment to generate electricity and heat by dint of the chemical reaction between hydrogen collected from city gas and oxygen in the air, and it also can heat water. It has two times higher energy utilization efficiency than the electricity that is generated by a thermal power generation and used in household. It was launched by the industry under the uniform name of “Ene-Farm” in 2009 in Japan. It has two types: One is the type with higher ratio of generation, and the other is the type with higher ratio of heat designed for large household that needs lots of hot water.  

JX Nippon Oil and Energy decided to ally with ZBT GmbH of Germany to market its residential use fuel call in Germany as the second country in the foreign market. It has already been conducting the demonstration experiment in Korea since 2011, and plans to put its products on the Korean market in 2013. The model that it plans to put on the German market is its latest solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that has 30% higher generation efficiency than the existing model. It can supply 70% of electricity requirements of a general household. It wishes to reduce the unit price from the current 2,700,000 yen to about 500,000 yen by reviewing major materials of the generation unit and automating the production with a view to making it competitive enough in the global market. It sees a lot of business opportunities in the countries where many households are not supplied with power cable worldwide. 

JX Nippon Oil and Energy, Tokyo Gas, and Osaka Gas produced fuel cells on a commercial basis in 2009 for the first time in the world. A total of 20,000 units were sold by the end of 2011 in Japan. At present, Japanese manufacturers enjoy great advantage both in technology and production cost, but it is vital for them to construct a system for local production in the global market to maintain the advantage on a long-term basis. Tokyo Gas and Panasonic sell residential fuel cells in the Tokyo metropolitan area, and Osaka Gas and Toshiba’s subsidiary is focusing on the Osaka area. Several companies including Osaka Gas, Kyocera, and Aisin Seiki are expected to launch models with higher generation efficiency shortly.  

Ene-Farm (residential use fuel cell) from JX Nippon Oil and Energy 

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