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Ambitious but controversial: Japan's new hydrogen project

By Etienne BALMER

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Why hydrogen?

After double reading the article, still can't get it.

Why hydrogen?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Alternatives to burning so much coal, oil and gas are needed.

As are conservation measures.

Unless Japanese people want to remain reliant on the US, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other hydrocarbon exporting states.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

20 years too late.

We should have done it in the mid 90s early 2000.

Have you noticed Tesla? Paying any attention to that company and what their doing?

It's called winning.

Winning at Battery technology leading the way. Ahead of Toyota by 15 years.

Winning at self driving technology, has the most data on cars already driving unlike the competition. Toyota, Honda doesn't even know where to start.

Winning at making solar panels better each year, more advance, more durable.

Winning at being able to store huge amounts of energy, has done projects for Australia on mass scale.

Tesla is building rechargeable stations all over the world, ahead of any other competition.

We are behind, and we invested so much time and money in Hydrogen. All of our eggs are in one basket called hydrogen technology.

We should invest more in advance Batteries. Miniature Rockets, Nuclear, Fussion technology.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Not sure if these 'experts' are ready to play with Hydrogen?

But hey what could go wrong?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Honda had such a lead in Hydrogen fuel-cell cars starting in 1999. The FCX clarity was available to the public from 2008-2014. It just could never get traction in the market.



Hydrogen is a better long term technology, and I'm glad to see this being given some effort again.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

carbon capture doesn't work

hydrogen is a battery not a fuel

it's just a means of perpetuating the oil/gas industry dominance in supply chains, and has nothing to do with creating viable renewable networks in a variety of locations

Car companies abandoned it for direct EV's.

You were better off just using the electricity directly than dealing with all the losses in using hydrogen

it's another loser technology.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

This article is BS.

hydrogen is for cars, but containment should be developed to prevent accidents.

japan doesn’t need carbon energy resources. We have solar, geothermal and wind/wave.

just dinosaurs in charge of Japanese economy.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

"an expensive process that uses a lot of energy."

Japanese politicians always seems to make spectaculalry bad decisions regarding infrastructure.

From the super energy intensive MAGLEV train to this hydrogen project.

Just headline grabbing but ultimatelty increadibly inefficient.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Talking about hydrogen, what’s happened to nuclear fusion power generation? Quite a bit of money has been put into the technology.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The problem with using hydrogen as a fuel for vehicles is that it requires quite a bit of energy to split hydrogen atoms off from other compounds, cool it and then store it for use. Yes, burning hydrogen doesn't itself release CO2 or any other greenhouse gases, but creating the hydrogen and storing it consumes huge amounts of energy that must be produced by some means. Overall I'm not convinced the amount of pollution generated producing the energy needed to produce hydrogen as a fuel really saves energy overall compared to other alternative transportation energy sources or is less polluting overall. I think the enthusiasm is maybe premature.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Why hydrogen?

This is actually a covert resumption of Dr. Serizawa's work.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Betting on technology with a high cost of entry to perpetuate power in the same deep-pocketed, predictable and politically loyal old hands.

I'm reminded of disastrous wagon circling to save power-hungry plasma TV.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

You simply cannot trick the closed model or system and its energy balance. It’s a basic rule taught at almost every schools. If you want a certain kind of energy you have to put another kind of energy in and will also have losses, because the transforming processes create not only your wished kind of energy but also others. The same for oxidation processes etc. There is not such a thing like clean energy or CO2-free planet. You are completely crazy if you think you’re on the right path, that’s the only fact that always stands...lol

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Winning at self driving technology, has the most data on cars already driving unlike the competition. Toyota, Honda doesn't even know where to start.

GM's SuperCruise has been universally declared to be a far-superior self driving system than Tesla's Autopilot. In all tests comparing the two, Tesla came in at a distant second.


2 ( +2 / -0 )

They are just moving the CO2 emissions to a different area of power production. The extraction and storage will produce nearly as much CO2. They’ll have huge diesel guzzling ships running non-stop between Victoria and Japan, ships that have not been built yet and will have their own large carbon footprint during construction. I fail to see how this can be labeled as a renewable energy source.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Unlike the politicians dreaming this up, I haven't done my radio taiso yet today so, I'm not ready for these mental gymnastics.

How are burning coal for power and burning coal to make hydrogen for power any different from each other?

I see one big difference. When using hydrogen the Japanese government will be using "clean" energy and can stroke themselves off over it.

Form over function once again.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is quite a bit more to this than can be seen in the article or comments. All "renewable" have issues that have yet to be addressed - none of them are as clean as claimed.

Hydrogen made from biomass and organic waste would emit zero CO2. It already can be done. The issue is scaling and cost.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As everyone says, this is all a bit of a nonsense and is just a way to spread around a lot of government research spending. The logistics of it are crazy. It's only energy dense enough for transportation if you cool it to minus 240C! A ship to carry it has never been built. They are going to make it from worthless coal in Oz. All so drivers can continue paying for fill-ups at a (publicly funded) fuel station.

As a way to store renewable energy, there is potential for hydrogen, but it relies on someone finding a catalyst or some other workaround to make electrolysis more efficient. We are nowhere near that now.

If the government wants to do something now to reduce car emissions. It should scrap the weight tax on cars, and slap an extra 15 yen per liter on gasoline. I would go further and scrap the engine-sized annual road tax (jidoushazei) as well, and add an extra 15 yen per liter for that. Make it so it costs no tax to own a car, but polluter pays every time you drive it, relative to how much fuel you use. Make it so an inefficient car means voluntarily paying lots of tax, because you are dirtying everyone else's air.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

CNG powered container ships exist today and more are being built. There are Li battery powered ferries in service in Scandanavia. Shipping companies are experimenting with rotary sail powered merchant ships.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I agreed with most scientific assessments from all comments here. I want to add my own precipitate into the stream of arguments.

Japan seems to seek the energy independence status; however, it only finds itself more trapped and indebted to the outside forces in the end - the hydrogen energy program likely borrows from Western financial institutions. It is really a dilemma. Japan could have appeased Trump from giving more economic punishments against Japan through signing major deals to buy American LNGs, like Vietnam is doing. Vietnam was prepared to be designated as a currency manipulator by the USTR, then the Vietnamese PM invites Secretary Pompeo to sign the $11 billion dollars deal on LNGs with American corporations. As the result, the US is now largely silent on the Vietnamese currency probe since both the State Department and Pentagon love that deal and back Vietnam.

Japan should have emulated that strategy to make good deals with Trump, instead we see Japanese cronies wasting money on an unproven energy source. Yes, I do think Hydrogen energy is possible but the R&D base and financial powers are quite weak for Japan to pursue this expensive endeavor. The TPO for Hydrogen energy isn't feasible as the US continues punishing countries with super high deficits with the US, and Japan still refuses to cut down the deficits through buying American goods or allowing any major American M&A in Japan. Hydrogen energy isn't feasible at the moment but Japan should pursue it when they have the power and the right TPO.

Winning at Battery technology leading the way. Ahead of Toyota by 15 years.

Commercial Battery tech, yes. The high-end battery tech is probably 100 years or more because Tesla has only a small access to the US government's technological databases which are top secret. It is astonishing that Tesla achieves so much in a small time after getting a measly small piece of battery technology from the US govt. Tesla doesn't even take Panasonic seriously after Musk outrightly rejects the Japanese company's offer to supply solar energy batteries because Tesla already got the core tech way above anyone in the world.

Tesla's sudden rise is largely due to the American taxpayer subsidies and Elon Musk's ingenuity. I don't like the man but his guts are admirable.

Winning at self driving technology, has the most data on cars already driving unlike the competition. Toyota, Honda doesn't even know where to start.

The Americans and Europeans are already far surpassing most of the world in this matter. What's humiliating for Japan is China getting thousands of miles ahead of Japan in this field. South Korea also made huge strides as well.

We should invest more in advance Batteries. Miniature Rockets, Nuclear, Fussion technology.

The US, EU and Russia may already invent them but they simply can't make any of them profitable, cheap and safe. This is why the people like Elon Musk came into the room.

Meanwhile, Japan wasted all the 20th century on the pointless party bubbles. Japan never established the core fundamentals of R&D and advance science. Japan's major stick today is the special status of being the "great friend of the US" (client-state) who has accesses to the Western supply chains of high-end technology as well as Western elite financial institutions. For decades, China treats Japan as nothing more than a transition point for the Chinese to get advanced technologies and acquire favorable financial loans/deals - All of these activities are prominent around 1990s to 2000s. When China surpassed Japan, it was also the time that China doesn't need Japan anymore as all Western companies and institutions want a piece of China markets. Singapore rises to the prominence, and India, Vietnam gradually gain their entry to the West without needing Japan as an intermediary.

If Japan doesn't find something great and innovative to change the fate of the nation, it will swiftly become irrelevant in the next decade. Hydrogen energy doesn't seem to be the answer.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Because it's everywhere. Once an efficient method of extracting it from water for example, it's far better than using batteries for cars.

After double reading the article, still can't get it.

Why hydrogen?

1 ( +1 / -0 )


You mention Tesla "massive storage in Australia", Tesla has installed what is called in the industry a "switching battery" used to provide voltage and frequency stabilisation when adjusting power sources. it is a relatively small installation of 100Mw that would supply a regional town for about 30 minutes. Switching batteries are common when a mix of power sources eg; solar, wind and coal are employed in the grid. In this case the base load is provided by brown coal.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hydrogen is produced is from fossil fuels. It's done by taking methane and other hydrocarbons and pulling the hydrogen off and expelling the CO2 (ideally capturing it). This process is called steam reforming. 


This is the sweet lie people aren't told when hydrogen is brought up. Japan happens to have extensive offshore methane clathrate deposits on the sea floor and if they can make a hydrogen economy happen then those clathrates may become economical to mine.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Hydroelectric or Hydrogen as Solar and wind will only get 30% and very expensive due to lifespan, cost of equipment and maintenance.

Cheapest and cleanest is hydroelectric but you need rivers and possible tides.

China has cheapest electricity in world at less than .10 kwhr and the wind and solar countries highest with near .40 kwhr

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

My PV system powers our household and two electric cars, having paid back in three years in gasoline savings alone. Now we get free house power and horsepower.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What makes this project going are two simple facts that benefit both countries:

This so-called brown coal currently effectively lacks a market, making it a potentially attractive, cheaper alternative to domestic hydrogen production for Japan...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Another burden on Australia's emission reduction targets.

But it will help them thru the present economic downturn

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We cannot allow that carbon into the air.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not sure why so many people brought up Tesla in this chat, but Nissan’s EV seems to be doing pretty good in some markets. I wouldn’t call of Japan so easily.


0 ( +0 / -0 )

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