Australia/Japan: Teaming up for a Hydrogen-Fueled Future

Australia/Japan: Teaming up for a Hydrogen-Fueled Future

Japan is looking to Australia for help in becoming a nation powered mainly by hydrogen by 2050.

Australia, which hopes to move away from its dependency on coal exports, will also benefit from the clean-energy collaboration that aims to transform low-grade coal from Australian mines into hydrogen and then ship it in liquefied form to Japan, according to Forbes magazine.

Japan aims to have 200,000 hydrogen vehicles on the road by 2025 and 800,000 by 2030, according to the online magazine The Diplomat. (Pictured: Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled its hydrogen fuel cell truck in Tokyo in June 2018).

Japan launched the first carrier ship designed to transport liquid hydrogen in December 2019, the Nikkei Asian Review website reported. The ship will make its first commercial trip in 2021 to Hastings port in Victoria, Australia, where a consortium of Japanese companies are building Australia’s first hydrogen liquefaction factory, according to the website of the Victoria government.

Hydrogen exports could supply about U.S. $2.7 billion in economic benefits to Australia by 2040, according to the government’s National Hydrogen Energy Strategy, released in November 2019.

Other hydrogen production projects are also in development worldwide. South Korea is interested in pursuing hydrogen fuel as well, the Australian report said.

Yet many barriers remain. “The big bottleneck is carbon capture and storage,” Dr. Takeo Kikkawa, professor of management at the Tokyo University of Science, told Bloomberg news in June 2019. “It’s not that it can’t be done. It’s the economics.”

Technology is still in development to enable large-scale capture and storage of hydrogen. Moreover, cost remains one of the largest obstacles, given the abundance of alternative energy sources that are less expensive.

The infrastructure worldwide for the hydrogen supply chain is also in its early stages, although many experimental hydrogen-refilling stations are emerging worldwide, Forbes reported.

Despite the challenges, hydrogen’s time has come, Daniel Roberts of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, told the E&E News website in October 2018, due to a “real strong global pull here for importing low-carbon hydrogen” to Japan and South Korea, where the governments have made hydrogen-based transportation “central to their energy strategy.”  FORUM Staff