Japan Inc wants to become a hydrogen superpower
To succeed, it must focus on unglamorous industrial uses of the gas
In 2016 tokyo’s then governor, Masuzoe Yoichi, predicted that the Olympics the Japanese capital was to host in 2020 would “leave a hydrogen society as its legacy”, just as the 1964 Tokyo games left the Shinkansen bullet trains. Later that year Mr Masuzoe resigned over an expenses scandal. But as Tokyo prepares for the pandemic-delayed opening ceremony on July 23rd his dream lives on.
For the first time, the Olympic torch burned hydrogen (never mind that the flame is colourless). Officials will be ferried around in some 500 cars and 100 buses made by Toyota and running on fuel cells, portable power plants that consume hydrogen and emit only water vapour. The Kawasaki King Skyfront Tokyu Rei hotel gets energy from hydrogen sourced from waste plastics.
So why are our government's advertising electric cars?
There are different kinds of hydrogen. The different methods of producing the gas emit different amounts of CO2. Depending on the production methods, hydrogen can be green, turquoise, blue or grey.
For hydrogen to support climate targets, it is essential that it be generated in a climate-neutral manner, without causing additional CO2 emissions. This can only be achieved by green hydrogen.
Green hydrogen is produced by the electrolysis of water, meaning the breakdown of water molecules into the two individual elements hydrogen and oxygen. Only electricity from renewable energies is used. This way no CO2 is produced, making the generated hydrogen climate neutral. This is how hydrogen should ideally be produced.
In order to produce large amounts of green hydrogen, we need considerably larger electricity generation capacities from renewable energies. In addition, electricity prices must be affordable so that green hydrogen is also economically competitive. An important lever for achieving this would be the reform of the charges and levies on electricity.
Turquoise hydrogen is created when natural gas is broken down with the help of methane pyrolysis into hydrogen and solid carbon.
CO2 is not directly generated; instead, natural gas, which is difficult to obtain, is used as a raw material.
The other two don't meet my environmental expected target
Hydrogen is the fuel of the future.
modern hydrogen-related technologies such as electrolysers, hydrogen fuel cells or filling facilities are still largely unknown to the public, as are the benefits that can be derived from this energy, especially for the environment
The fight against climate change will require the production of green hydrogen…
This is a message we must send to the public, business leaders and politicians