Hydrogen is projected to meet one quarter of global energy demand in 2050. But 95% of today’s hydrogen production is fossil-based, as low-carbon hydrogen is not yet cost-competitive. To truly contribute to achieving the goal of carbon neutrality set both by the EU and Japan by 2050, hydrogen will have to be produced from renewable sources.
Renewable hydrogen has the potential to deliver decarbonised energy where renewable electricity has its limits, notably when it comes to storage, heavy-duty transport and energy-intensive industries. Together, renewable electricity and renewable hydrogen can provide the synergies needed to deliver an integrated, flexible, clean energy system.
To realize this vision, a massive increase in supply of products and processes based on renewable hydrogen is needed. This implies substituting fossil-based hydrogen by renewable hydrogen in existing value chains and increasing the maturity of technology to reach market viability and competitiveness.
In this event, experts from Europe and Japan shared the latest developments on public policies and deployment of large-scale green hydrogen production. They also opened a discussion on possible cooperation between Europe and Japan in green hydrogen projects.Video recording & Presentations
Note: the opening presentation by METI has been edited out of the recording, by request of the speaker.
First, representatives from the European Commission and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan introduced the current public policies they are respectively undertaking to reach the common target of carbon neutrality in 2050, with a focus on green hydrogen.
Tudor Constantinescu, Principal Adviser of the Directorate-General Energy of the European Commission, presented the European Green New Deal and its support to further investments in renewable energies. The EU’s Hydrogen Strategy published in 2020 laid out concrete steps for the deployment of hydrogen and the development of a complete value chain. This strategy demonstrates the importance of hydrogen in the EU’s long-term decarbonization strategy. Mr. Constantinescu affirmed however that several challenges still have to be overcome: hydrogen should be further used in transport and residential sectors, and should increasingly replace natural gas. Besides, additional R&I is needed to expand storage capacities. Initiatives such as the launch of the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance and the development of international cooperation with partners such as Japan are keys.
Hydrogen – moving from being the missing link of the energy transition, to becoming the core of the energy system.
Tudor Constantinescu, Directorate General for Energy, European Commission
His counterpart from METI, Toshiyuki Shirai, Director of Hydrogen Strategy Office, highlighted a set of policies adopted by the Japanese government to reach a hydrogen based-economy. Since the Basic Hydrogen Strategy adopted in 2017, several plans to develop Fuel Cells have been released to expand production and use of hydrogen. Mr. Toshiyuki illustrated current and planned projects taking place in Japan in various areas such as mobility, power generation, stationary fuel cells, regional and local hubs, international supply chain, showcasing a large support from the industry also demonstrated by the establishment in December 2020 of Japan’s Hydrogen Association (JH2A). He also introduced the latest developments in hydrogen policy, from the adoption of the Green Growth Strategy establishing the political framework and the Green Innovation Fund bringing the financial support to achieve it. Japan is seeking both to support local and regional initiatives and to organize international high-level discussion to induce collective effort for hydrogen’s deployment.
In this session, companies from both sides presented their solutions for large-scale green hydrogen production.
Joost Sandberg, Manager New Business at Nobian, a European leader in the production of essential base chemicals for industries, introduced the DJEWELS project implemented in the Netherlands. Using Asahi Kasei’s membrane technology in Nobian’s facility to scale up green hydrogen production, the DJEWELS project covers the complete value chain from renewable power to renewable methane at an industrial scale. The project started with 20MW produced per unit, and aims to scale up to more than 1 GW to further lower the cost. DJEWELS is included in Hydrogen Valley, a larger project supported by the EU to implement a whole hydrogen ecosystem in the North of Netherlands.
Following a brief presentation of Asahi Kasei, Japanese manufacturer of fiber products, chemicals, and electronic related materials, Yasuhide Isobe, Director of the Clean Energy Project, introduced the group’s long experience in water electrolysis technology. Asahi Kasei’s solutions based on the chlor-alkali electrolyzer are already employed in projects conducted in Germany and Japan. For the former, Asahi Kasei is involved in the R&D project ALIGN CCUS to co-develop a technology reusing CO2, while for the latter, it is working on the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field, a large facility producing hydrogen from renewable sources.
As the Hydrogen Coordinator at Spanish gas company Enagas, María Jaén introduced the initiatives of the company’s subsidiary Enagas Renovable to foster renewable gases deployment (mainly biomethane and green hydrogen) by developing intertwined connections across Spanish and other European territories. She presented projects such as the Green Crane to connect regions with high output and high demand for hydrogen – an initiative recognized by the EU as “Important Project of Common European Interest”, and the Green Hysland demonstrator, establishing a hydrogen ecosystem on the island of Mallorca. The latter aims to build up a large scale hydrogen hub replicable to other regions.
Finally, Daisuke Izuhara, Chair Researcher at Toray, a Japanese leader of industrial chemistry-based products, featured the various materials for the whole supply chain Toray has produced to carry out a hydrogen society. Considering green hydrogen production by electrolyzer as a key component for carbon neutrality since it will be used to decarbonize both electric and non-electric sectors, Toray is involved in NEDO’s project to co-develop Japanese first megawatt-class PEM Electrolyzer in Yamanashi. Since 2015, Toray is also developing its presence in Europe in this field, through a german subsidiary developing the world’s most compact megawatt scale PEM electrolyzer stack. Mr. Izuhara also touched upon the topic of production cost of green hydrogen.
In this final session, panelists discussed past and existing international cooperation in green hydrogen projects, to explore the path for further exchanges between Europe and Japan.
Eiji Ohira, General Manager of the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Office of Japan’s public agency NEDO, first highlighted the importance hydrogen has in Japan’s Green Growth Strategy: it is one of the 14 priority sectors identified in the strategy, and it is mentioned in several other sectors. NEDO is currently focusing on promoting fuel cell application and on integrating hydrogen in a larger energy system while developing demand. Reducing the cost of hydrogen refuelling stations, increasing efficiency of turbines to scale up production, and developing a complete energy management system are some of NEDO’s current challenges. Accordingly, enhancing technologies of production, defining international standards as preconditions for large-scale utilization, and sharing experiences through utilization models are some potential fields of cooperation in the future.
On the EU side, the executive director of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH-JU), Bart Biebuyck, explained his organization’s willingness to scale up potential future electrolysis projects beyond 100 MW’s from 2025 and at GW scale in 2030. He illustrated the Joint Undertaking’s action in Europe, such as funding hydrogen application in steel and refining industries. He also quoted some activities in which Japan is involved : Mission Innovation as a platform for Hydrogen Valleys’ stakeholders to share experiences, an EU- wide guarantee of origins scheme for hydrogen, research cooperation on free catalysts and design of the same hydrogen refueling protocols. Further possible cooperation areas were finally formulated with possible implication of NEDO and FCH-JU.
It is very important that we all agree worldwide on every hydrogen production method, that we agree on CO2 footprint, so green hydrogen in Japan is green hydrogen in Europe. This is important to unlock future cross border trading..
Bart Biebuyck, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking
Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, secretary general of industry association Hydrogen Europe, presented complex industrial projects, research projects, hydrogen and fuel cell deployments projects happening in Europe with japanese partners through various industrial alliances. Examples included a pilot in Austria to decarbonize steel production, and the deployment in Paris of the largest fleet of hydrogen taxis. Mr. Chatzimarkakis then mentioned several challenges for Japanese companies in terms of access to the European hydrogen market – smaller footprint, specific requirements, higher barriers than Chinese and American markets – which might be overcome thanks to the benefits reaped from alliances with European companies. The Auctioning System of Hydrogen and the Oceanenergy project using kite technology to produce hydrogen at sea are two subjects on which Hydrogen Europe is currently working and welcomes Japanese partners to join.
To conclude this session, Johanna Schilling, Senior Project Manager at ECOS Consult, a German consulting agency, provided insights on which area, for which criterias, and from which models Japan and the EU might be inspired to conduct further international projects in green hydrogen. First, she highlighted potential cooperation to upscale various electrolysis technologies and to develop a cost-efficient supply chain at domestic and international level. Then, she emphasized on complementarity of interests, technologies and fundings schemes as being fundamentals for international projects to emerge. Japan and Europe have both different areas of expertise which might be combined. Finally, she depicted the northern Kyushu as having the preconditions for a joint green hydrogen project due to the region’s large-scale offshore wind farm project, existing hydrogen production, and proximity of industrial and metropolitan areas.
Concluding the event, representatives of the European Commission and METI once more highlighted the importance of bilateral cooperation between Europe and Japan on green hydrogen. Both sides have been developing hydrogen for different reasons, but can now find new synergies under the common objective of carbon neutrality. This first workshop will be followed by two other ones, to also cover the end-use applications such as transport, and the issues related to international trade of green hydrogen.
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