A recent Ammonia Energy post mentioned that in December 2017 “the Japanese government . . . approved an updated hydrogen strategy which appears to give ammonia the inside track in the race against liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid organic hydride (LOH) energy carrier systems.” While this news is positive, the hydrogen strategy remains the essential context for economic implementation of ammonia energy technologies in Japan; ammonia’s prospects are only as bright as those of hydrogen. This is why Ammonia Energy asks from time to time, how is hydrogen faring in Japan?
On August 1, 2017 the Japan Government’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) announced that it will proceed with funding for the construction of a hydrogen production plant in Namie Township, about ten kilometers from the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The project’s budget is not mentioned, but the installation is projected to be “the largest scale in the world” -- in other words, a real bridge to the future and not a demonstration project.
The project no doubt has a variety of motivations, not least the symbolic value of a renewable hydrogen plant rising in the shadow of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station. In economic terms, though, it appears to be a dead end. This is unfortunate because a similarly conceived project based on ammonia could be a true bridge-building step that aligns with leading-edge developments elsewhere in the world.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KWI) is moving ahead with plans for a “liquefied hydrogen carrier ship,” as reported by at least two Japanese news outlets since July. This means that the groups backing each of the energy carriers included within Japan’s Cross-Ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP) have all made significant moves ahead of the program’s termination at the end of 2018. On July 25, 2017 the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) announced that a collection of companies and research institutions had come together to form the Green Ammonia Consortium. On July 27, 2017, Chiyoda Corporation announced that work was starting on a demonstration project that will transport hydrogen from Brunei to Japan using liquid organic hydride carrier technology.