Tuesday, July 29, 2014

No. 847: Efforts to halve the price of hydrogen accelerate (July 30, 2014)

The competition to reduce the price of hydrogen is heating up because fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) will be put on the market toward the end of this year in Japan. The Japanese government plans to halve the price of hydrogen by 2020 to spread FCVs and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) published Hydrogen Energy White Paper for the first time. The whie paper will be downloadable from NEDO's website shortly. 

Iwatani Corp. is making strenuously efforts to construct a hydrogen station that does not need a compressor to fill liquefied hydrogen into an FCV. It costs 100 million yen to construct a gas station, whereas it costs 460 million yen to construct a hydrogen station, of which 140 million yen is for a compressor alone. The company is trying to introduce the system to fill liquefied hydrogen into an FCV only by the special pump developed by the Linde Group of Germany. It is negotiating with the High Pressure Gas Safety Institute of Japan to install the special pumps in Japan, and it plans to start production of these pumps in Japan next year.  

Currently, the wholesale price of hydrogen is 60 yen per cubic meter and the retail price is 150 yen per cubic meter. The retail price should be reduced to 100 yen to make the fuel cost of FCV as low as the fuel cost of gasoline vehicle and to 80 yen to make it as low as hybrid vehicle. The government wishes to reduce the fuel cost of FCV to as low as the fuel cost of gasoline vehicle in 2015 and to as low as the fuel cost of hybrid vehicle in 2020. To realize a retail price of 80 yen per cubic meter, the wholesale price should be 30 yen and the profit of hydrogen station should be 50 yen.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries is taking another approach. The company is planning to produce hydrogen from brown coal produced in Latrobe Valley in Australia. Brown coal is very cheap: it is one tenth of ordinary coal in price. It will construct an experiment plant in Australia in 2017. It also plans to build the world’s first hydrogen carrier. Chiyoda Corp. has been conducting experiments to put a technology into practical use. The technology is to liquefy hydrogen by dissolving it in organic solvent and transport liquefied hydrogen to hydrogen stations by tank vessel and tank at ordinary temperatures and pressures.

The project to send hydrogen to city streets from a hydrogen plant using pipes has already started in Kyushu under the initiative of an industry-government-academia organization. The concept of Kitakyushu HydrogenTown receives hydrogen from the Yawata iron works of Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal. As the world’s first concept, using hydrogen sent from a nearby iron works to city streets attracts attention worldwide.   

 The project of Kitakyushu Hydrogen Town

Let's drive a Toyota's FCV

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