## 13 Japanese automakers and energy companies join forces to support rollout of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in 2015

##### 14 January 2011
 Planned hydrogen infrastructure, with four major metro areas linked. Click to enlarge.

A coalition of 13 major Japanese automakers and energy companies—including Toyota, Honda and Nissan—are joining together to expand the introduction of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) in 2015 and develop the hydrogen supply network throughout Japan. The two groups are looking to the government to join them in forming various strategies to support their joint efforts and to gain greater public acceptance of the technology.

As a specific initiative in the immediate future, the companies plan to approach local governments and other concerned parties to discuss strategies for creating initial consumer demand for FCVs and for the optimal placement of hydrogen fueling stations, targeting Japan's four major metropolitan areas (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka).

Companies in the coalition include: Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC); Nissan Motor Company, Ltd.; Honda Motor Company, Ltd.; JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation; Idemitsu Kosan Company, Ltd.; Iwatani Corporation; Osaka Gas Company, Ltd.; Cosmo Oil Company, Ltd.; Saibu Gas Company, Ltd.; Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K.; Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation; Tokyo Gas Company, Ltd.; and Toho Gas, Company, Ltd.

As development of fuel-cell systems progresses, Japanese automakers are continuing drastically to reduce the cost of manufacturing such systems and are aiming to launch FCVs in the Japanese market—mainly in the country’s four largest cities—in 2015. The automobile industry hopes to popularize the use of FCVs after their initial introduction as a way of tackling energy and environmental issues.

Hydrogen fuel suppliers are aiming to construct approximately 100 hydrogen fueling stations by 2015, based on the number of FCVs expected to initially enter the market, to ensure a smooth launch and to create initial market.

I'm sure your intention in the forelast para. was to state
".....are continuing to drastically reduce the...".

Battery only folk should note that Nissan is as keen on fuel cells as batteries.
Much of the development work is common.

Er, aren't there still some large unsolved problems, like having H to put in the pipeline? and leaking, etc.
Have I been asleep?
God bless them if they can make this work!

I still don't understand why educated people are trying to drum up support for hydrogen road vehicles?

It is so well established now that FCVs use 4x the primary energy of BEVs, even in the best case scenarios.

Why would a government looking to reduce energy consumption invest in hydrogen?

It just means they'll end up having to build 4 times as many windmills / power stations / hydro dams as compared to an economy using BEVs. This is sooo the Panasonic laserdisc of the car world....

With the current grid and using present methods of producing hydrogen, ie by reforming natural gas, the efficiencies of batteries and hydrogen fuel cell cars are in the same ball park.
Perhaps some have not noted that the purely hypothetical future efficiency problems posited at some future date for the production of hydrogen, at a stage when electrolysis is the main method of production, are balanced by current problems of energy density for batteries.
Fuel cells and batteries go together like ham and eggs, with the fuel cell providing the energy density that batteries can't.
Don't people think that there is some chance that the likes of Nissan may know what they are doing when they go for fuel cells as well as batteries?

When you factor in power line losses and charger losses as well as losses involved in storing power... as any wind/wave/solar powered grid needs to do.. Your not talking 100% your not taking 80% your not even talking 70% ...

Now with h2.. as the electrolyzer gets better and as the tank and fuel cell get better...

Currently we are talking about 44% Now 4x the energy.. instead its just 1.5x-1.6x

But with tech we already have we can boost that to 50-60% and then its only about.. 1.2x

And in anouther 20-30 years with better equipment we can likely reach 70%....

But that isnt the main reason they go for it.

Its alot easier to reach the goal with 2 methods of powering things then with just 1 specialy if those methods are wildly different stongpoints...

We need it all.

Those of us who have been coming here for several years know why Hydrogen will never become a practical transportation fuel.

This coalition will learn that also.

FC technology is advancing rapidly and can be made much lighter while using less expensive materials. Future mass produced FC will be a lot cheaper. Hydrogen is an excellent energy storage medium. Surplus daytime solar energy and surplus night time wind energy can be used to produce hydrogen for a large FC vehicle fleet. FC vehicles can have equivalent range to ICE vehicles. A small lower cost FC, as an on-board battery charger, can give PHEVs more range with a lot less batteries.

Japan, with high population concentrated in a few large cities, may be a good place to introduce hydrogen FC vehicles.

Wow Lucas! You know so much!- which perhaps accounts for your patronising attitude.
You have so much to teach those dumb-asses at Toyota,Nissan et al, and people in laboratories all over the world.

In reality of course, you have an opinion, which you have in no way substantiated.

While there are three car companies, this coalition is made up of oil/gas companies.

JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation; Idemitsu Kosan Company, Ltd.; Iwatani Corporation; Osaka Gas Company, Ltd.; Cosmo Oil Company, Ltd.; Saibu Gas Company, Ltd.; Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K.; Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation; Tokyo Gas Company, Ltd.; and Toho Gas, Company, Ltd.

Obviously they need to sell a product that competes with electricity. They have little choice outside FCs unless they get into the lucrative Combined Heat and Power industry. These guys are hoping to establish enough infrastructure for their reformed NG-H2 process to demonstrate feasibility.

Expect to see FC range extenders on PHEVs as the first implementation. They will happily eat the enormous startup costs in order to build a market. Is this enviro suicide? Nope.

As TT indicates we DO need all players in the transition away from fossil fuels. So inefficient reformed H2 is the entry process. What makes anyone here think there will not be a highly efficient electrolysis-type H2 process introduced? Not a matter of IF, but of WHEN.

Meanwhile we should consider this coalition positive in its goal to provide a clean alternative to fossils - the mainstay of oilcos til now. HINT: these guys really should produce a residential SOFC for CHP (aka Residential Power Unit) Hint. Hint.

Hi Reel,
The Japanese utilities in conjunction with the likes of Toshiba and Panasonic are already on the case of fuel cells for homes:
'"Once fuel cells hit the US$5,000 (£3,300) mark, which we imagine will happen in the next 2 years, these units will become as compelling to home owners as energy-saving water-heaters and double-glazing," Tokyo- based entrepreneur and business analyst Terrie Lloyd told the BBC. "It will be hard to ignore a product that might save US$2,500 or more a year on energy bills." '

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8563928.stm

This is a far more efficient use of gas than using it to back up wind power, which has to be turned on and off to make up for wind variability.

There is no guesswork required here, the cars and electrolysis plants already exist and the figures are well established. First, it takes 60 kWh of electricity to produce and compress 1 kg of hydrogen.

Second, the most efficient fuel cell car (Honda's FCX clarity) manages 72 miles on 1 kg of hydrogen, so that's 1.2 miles per kWh of electricity, or about a quarter of what a battery electric vehicle would get, and that's not including any of the energy involved in transporting the hydrogen to the filling station.

So if using the USA electricity mix to make the hydrogen (~700 g CO2 per kWh), an FCX would therefore indirectly emit 368 g CO2 per km, or about 3.5x what a Prius emits.

We all know that USA's energy mix is a bad example because most of the electricity is produced with old, inefficient, coal fired polluting power plants.

Ours is produced with 96% Hydro, 2% Nuclear and 2% Wind. Industries buy local clean electricity below \$0.01/Kwh and could produce very cheap hydrogen, specially during off peak hours when huge e-energy surplus exist.

USA is not the whole world.

clett,
You choose to compare a way hydrogen is not currently generated at some presumed efficiency with electricity for batteries.
If you take the way hydrogen is actually currently made, by reforming natural gas, then a current car, the FCX is in the same ball park for efficiency as the battery car.

If you want instead to peer into the future then you have to make all sorts of assumptions about technology we don't currently have.

For a start, it may prove practical to store electricity from renewables, for instance, via hydrogen, but not directly into batteries.
In that case the efficiency is infinitely greater as it would use energy which would otherwise go to waste.

The point is that you can generate whatever figures you choose by picking your assumptions for the future, so real debate has to centre on what we do now.

The huge disparity in efficiency in favour of batteries does not currently exist.
A huge disparity in energy density certainly does.

Sometimes we think that because some big companies invest in something that "they must know something that we don't".

Come on guys. Haven't any of you ever worked at a big company that does R&D? I have and I've run R&D at some big companies. They invest in all kinds of things that never pan out. They do it because they get gov't incentives, they do it because some executive has picked it as their favorite pet project, and sometimes it even makes money...one day!

But please don't assert that somehow a large compnay investing in something has some magical quality that bestows legitimacy on that research. It's just that...research. And much of it goes for naught on dead end paths or pet projects.

Wintermane,
You've completely lost me on your logic. You talk about how inefficient the electricity distribution is and argue that somehow this will make FCVs relatively better in an efficiency argument.
But then you talk about electrolysis...which uses that same electricity to produce the H2.

Did you mean to talk about steam reforming natural gas???

Clett they have already done the math you lost.

Its that simple.

You care terribly if h2 winds up in the mix and so you have already lost.. We dont so we have already won.

There will be fuel cell cars there will be battery cars. And the simple fact is most of the profits will come from fuel cell cars.. because performance and power pays off.

Sorry wintermane, but I don't follow your last assertion. FCV have no better power or perfomance than an EV, because they esentially are EVs, range extended with a Hydrogen Fuel Cell. If anything they will have less performance because a smaller battery provides lower energy density and additional weight of the fuel cell components that do not add to the performance. In EVs, more batteries can weigh more, but they also can deliver more.

David D:
I accept that the large companies are not always correct, but you will forgive me if I remark that we should perhaps accord them more credence than a few fellows on blogs saying it will never work.
In particular opponents of fuel cells have gone so far on occasion as to simply ignore statements by those companies about cost, size and performance progress, even when some of it is substantiated by photographs, verifiable tests etc, and many do not even seem to know that the price of prototypes cannot simply be extrapolated to the price per unit in a production run.

In particular, the focus on efficiency, especially when it relates to future ways of producing hydrogen rather than by reforming, can be as overblown as any emphasis on using a single criteria to evaluate a technology is.
Sure, energy efficiency is important, but the overall efficiency is not too different to out present set up, and is worth paying sometimes for other qualities.

Elektruk,
Yep, you need some batteries to make up for the low power density of fuel cells, but that is far from counteracting the weight savings you can get from using the fuel cells.
That is why they want to use them in electric aeroplanes.
You can also use capacitors to provide for transient power loads.
The bottom line is that is why prototype fuel cell vehicles have much more range than most EV's, even though they are often put in much larger and heavier SUV-type vehicles.

Car companies are doing their best to keep modern society behind the wheel, driving furthest distances with no regard for the impacts of energy/fuel production/consumption nor driving itself. If they took into account the vehicle technology that leads to driving less, they'd manufacture mostly plug-in hybrids. However, car companies build cars that wear out soonest. The car driven less, lasts years longer. It's called Planned Obsolescence.

I would have said that FCVs were inevitable based on allowing the vehicles people really 'want' at the range they 'want' with the possibility of a storage medium that was not as dense, but far, far more convenient - as it is an energy storage medium and a combustible fuel that can be made and used either with or without a grid system both in-car and elsewhere. At the end of the day, it is the lifestyle that FCVs allow that will make or break the car in a long-term carbon and bio-fuel reducing (though bio-fuel is on a temporary uptrend in developed countries) and consumer-driven world -- as if energy density or other engineer 'logic' ever made a marketable product by itself, ever.
However, battery technology has been truly surprising and the take-up of plug-in-tech has been outstanding. But will not dominate the market as much as others may think (i.e. 85% + forever), i think. 10% FCV by 2020 and 35% at 2035, where it will plateau in certain regions of the country where it makes more sense.

WHY?

Davemart - No need to get personal. If you disagree with my conclusions, do your homework and show where I am wrong.

Lucas,
My objection was not to any argument, as you presented none, instead presuming superior knowledge to your opponents.
I dislike being addressed even in the generality de haut en bas, and if you refrain from so doing in futuree will of course treat any arguments you actually take the trouble to make with equal respect.

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