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Japan to offer ~$20K in subsidies per fuel cell vehicle

The Nikkei reports that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revealed plans to provide at least ¥2 million (US$19,722) in subsidies for every purchase of a fuel cell vehicle.

In a 2013 speech at Japan Akademeia on his “Abenomics”, shortly after his inauguration, the Prime Minster had emphasized the importance of regulatory and institutional reform to lead to commercial viability of new technologies, and specifically referenced hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

There is no alternative but to continue time and time again to put forth innovations that are a step ahead of your competitors. I will support companies that resolutely take on the challenge of innovating new ideas. What will open the door to this is regulatory reform.

For example, fuel cell-powered vehicles are revolutionary vehicles that are environmentally friendly, emitting no carbon dioxide. However, their hydrogen tanks are subject to both METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) and MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) regulations. The hydrogen filling stations used for refueling are bound up in a mountain of regulations, being subject to not only METI regulations but also Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications regulations governing firefighting and MLIT regulations dealing with town planning.

Even if you tackle each of these in turn as they appear one after the other, commercial viability always stays out of reach. We will soon conduct a review to tackle this situation all at once.

—Prime Minister Abe

Toyota will launch its production fuel cell vehicle in Japan before April 2015, and in the US and European markets in the summer of 2015. In Japan, the fuel cell sedan will go on sale at Toyota and Toyopet dealerships, priced at approximately ¥7 million (US$69,000) MSRP, excluding consumption tax. (Earlier post.)

The Prime Minster also plans to set up more than 100 hydrogen stations in the country, so that owners can refuel the cars easily.



These are two proactive ways to promote the switch from ICEVs to FCEVs and to reduce GHGs and Oil imports.

Since we have an abundance of Oil and our governments are not interested in GHGs reduction, that common sense FCEVs promotion will not be imported.

Roger Pham

This is like priming the pump in order to get mass production and competition going to permit eventual competitive pricing for FCV's. This will have world-wide effect.


Clearly, the world has got to start electing scientists, because this nonsense can not go on without serious consequences.



You then have more qualifications than the scientists at Toyota, Daimler, Hyundai and the DOE who think fuel cells a reasonable option?
If so, exactly what are they, and which universities conferred the honours?
You are correct this nonsense can't go on.
People with limited or zero actual expertise can't carry on dismissing expert opinion.

Your opinion is not as good as theirs.
Deal with it.


Here in Australia, I'd be happy to elect anyone with a working prefrontal cortex.


I thought only Austalians were allowed to stand? :-)


S/be Australians, which proves my own pre-frontal cortex has seen better days!


lol, no worries Dave! Many a Down Under prefrontal cortex has been neutered after excess alcohol bathing but there you go. On a more serious note, the malaise in Western democracies seems rooted, at least in part, in our politicians being drawn from an increasingly limited pool (genetic?) that precludes science literacy and is more concerned with the acquisition and retention of power and control. I guess Max Weber was right. Many of the issues confronting us now including AGW are global rather than national and seem to have exceeded the intelligence capabilities of those running the show.


Davemart, the scientists are told what to work on by the managers, and the managers take cues from government.  When the government says "Thou Shalt Investigate Fuel Cells, And Oh By The Way, Here Is A Nice Pile Of Money For Your Trouble", management hires scientists to work on fuel cells.  It has nothing to do with technical feasibility—look at what Japan is going to have to do to get hydrogen (reformed natural gas or gasified coal).


Japan could use off shore wind power to make hydrogen to use in fuel cell cars. Some would say that is inefficient, but Japan could do it and make it work. There are more considerations than efficiency. Japan has no coal, oil nor natural gas, they do have wind, sun, hydro and geothermal.


Not long now before the oil/auto companies have their FC plan in it's final phase; a FCV that runs on fossil fuels by reforming H2 on-board to replace the ICE and generate power for the EV drive line on Hybrids. I never thought the idea of hydrogen under high pressure and a completely new distribution system made much sense anyway...a bit of an intermediate red herring me thinks. It's not hard to figure; all it takes is half a pre-frontal cortex and watching politicians jump on the FC bandwagon, including the Japanese.

When the lobbyists at the American Petroleum Institute and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers support the same thing, i.e., FCVs, they have the juice in Washington to smother the other visions and plans. Tesla is out there all alone on EVs and Nissan is half in and nalf out.

With the FCV, nothing really changes; now you can still fill up at the pump with fossil fuel and the oil companies can go right on controlling fuel pricing and mucking up the World...status quo, don't ya know!


I have no objection at all to folk holding a different opinion to me.
I object to people who try to claim that theirs it the only valid opinion based on a half-arsed grasp of the science involved, and declare contrary opinions illegitimate.

You and I agree that in a logical, science based world most power would be provided by nuclear energy, and if that were the case then clearly battery electric solutions would be at a great advantage, as there would be less conversion of energy to different forms.

We don't happen to rule the world though, and the infatuation with renewables means that there has to be storage to cope in some way with their intermittency.

Unfortunately the same people who advocate a lot of renewables can't add up well enough to understand the implications, and imagine that they can just wave storage issues away, so that in their fantasy world you simply stick up a solar panel, run your house and BEV car on it summer and winter, and any problems with the sun not shining when it is needed can be addressed by sticking in a few more batteries in the house.

Both you and I can add up and so know that that is complete nonsense.
At considerable expense you might be able to deal with the day night cycle that way, annular variation never, not by a couple of orders of magnitude.

Since the overbuild needed for solar to cope in the winter outside the tropics would be insane, in my view that leaves hydrogen.
Fortunately losses can be reduced by use of process energy, although of course any change of state involves losses.

So I would prefer to use as much nuclear power topped up by solar where it is sunny for peaking power directly.

Since innumerates have intervened with entirely fallacious 'risk assessments' of nuclear, in my view and the view of many of the qualified people who have looked at this, we need hydrogen storage and hence fuel cells, and a lot of them.

Unfortunately the same innumerates who block nuclear power can't understand the implications of a lot of renewables, and so promote entirely fanciful non-solutions to the issue they have caused.

What gravels me is when they then get up and proclaim that alternative, numerate, opinions should be banned or ignored.
They could fairly claim, with Tertullian:
' it is wholly credible, because it is ridiculous'

alternatively they could learn to add up, and grow up so that they can comprehend that because they fancy all solar with no nasty hydrogen in the mix doesn't make that a practical proposition, and they need to get in touch with reality.


That's the first time I've seen anyone cite "Credo quia absurdum est" on an energy blog.



Who said to go with clean intermittent Solar, Wind and Waves etc without adequate storage such as batteries, water reservoirs, H2 +++? Short and long term distributed and centralized energy Storage is essential if the above REs are to be used for a high percentage of the energy mix.

Germany and Japan are not short of well educated scientists and engineers and they are phasing out nuclear in favor of clean REs with storage.

Many other nations will soon do the same to various degree, at least until such time as nuclear energy is better accepted and the radioactive waste issue is solved.

Nick Lyons


* Expensive first-world solutions (e.g. Germany's), assuming they can actually make it work, are not going to be adopted by the developing world, where coal plants are springing up by the hundreds. Germany's CO2 emissions are rising, not falling, BTW. Replacing nuclear with brown coal tends to have that effect.

* Our future is being written in the developing world; whether we make some expensive Rube Goldberg system of renewables and storage work or not is essentially beside the point.

* Nuclear energy's 'waste problem' is political, not technical. In fact, just about all of nuclear energy's problems are political, which is to say that limiting nuclear is all about vested interests.



Both Germany and Japan are going for hydrogen big time, with Japan in addition trying to re-start its reactors as fast as they can.

Here is a run-down of how the numbers work:

Note particularly:

'Let’s start small by considering the 3 W-h of energy stored in a AA battery, as computed above. One kWh of energy is 3.6×106 J of energy, so our AA battery stores 10,800 J of energy. A mass of m kilograms, hoisted h meters high against gravity at g≈10 m/s² corresponds to E = mgh Joules of energy. If we were willing to hoist a mass 3 m high, how much mass would we need to replace the AA battery? Have a guess? The answer is 360 kg, or about 800 lb. A battery the size of your pinky finger beats the proverbial 800 lb gorilla lifted onto your roof!'

None of the methods save hydrogen storage can do it at the required scale.

Tom Murphy does not like the cost of hydrogen either, which is fair although that is dropping rapidly, but it has the required scale which the others haven't.

Harvey, you can't keep posting the same nonsense over and over.
Do the numbers. They have been repeatedly shown to you, and stick to the possible alternatives instead of pushing the same stuff which you have been shown again and again can't work.

Or if you still think they can, show me the numbers which make them work.
If they can Tom is not aware of them, and he is 'reasonably' well qualified to deal with numbers! ;-)



Distributed and centralized Energy Storage media can be a mix of many technologies and will certainly evolve like many other technologies will. It will become a $100+B/year business soon. Hydro, Solar and Wind with adequate storage will gain market share.

For the immediate and near future, improved batteries, H2, water réservoirs seem to be the preferred energy storage means.

Regardless of what the pro Nuclear say, RE facilities are growing faster than nuclear or soon faster than fossil fuel units in many developed countries. Places with the largest proportion of Nuclear energy (France and Ontario, Canada) will soon reduce their nuclear facilities from 80% and 61% to under 50%.

It is unfortunate, but we (the developed nations) will continue to sell our outdated technologies to the developing nations. That's what we have been doing for many decades. It is part of the established (non-technical) game.


I'm not anti-nuclear in any way, but I think to say that "just about all of nuclear energy's problems are political" is to willfully ignore recent history, and an insult to the * 300,000 people who were evacuated* from the area around Fukushima. Their problems, I am certain, are much more than "political".

The same can be said for the 31 people who lost their lives directly as the result of the Chernobyl disaster, and the at least 9,000 that are estimated to have developed fatal cancer due to the radiation leaks. I think the 350,400 people who were evacuated from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine would also say that nuclear energy's problems were more than political.

All energy sources have risks, so I'm not singling these disasters out to make a case against the use of nuclear energy, only to say that there are some serious issues that need to be addressed. (I believe they are being addressed with new reactor designs).

Criticism of H2 as a transportation fuel source is pretty widespread. The critics extend well beyond blog commenters and include extremely well qualified researchers such as MIT professor and energy researchers Donald Sadoway, Mildred Dresselhaus and Noble Laureate and former US Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Speaking of numeracy, they are critical because the numbers don't add up - too much energy in, for too little out later. H2 is not the only viable storage solution, not even close to being the best one. Just the solution supported by the oil & gas industry, because they're in a position to provide it. No mystery there. They're not evil, they simply want to remain the dominant providers of energy to the world and maintain the most lucrative financial enterprise that humans have ever developed.

The numbers on the ¥2 million (~$20,000) subsidy per ¥7 million FCV also don't add up either, which is the basis of my criticism above. What is the sense, in Japan or in the US, of giving a hydrogen fuel cell car double the subsidy of a battery electric car?

That is truly foolish.


One possible solution:

Countries with clean energy (not USA-most of Canada-China-Russia) could start applying a special progressive 20+% import duty on all goods and services from countries using dirty GHG creating energies.

Revenues from the special import duties could be used to support the installation of more clean RE facilities.


@electric car insider:
Ignoring the changes of subject, what your response boils down to is that you are in no way qualified to judge the merits of fuel cells and batteries, but nevertheless not simply have a cut and dried position yourself, which goes way beyond any consensus, but feel qualified to absolutely dismiss any merit in that technology.

So any technology which does not meet your approval should not be considered, even though you are a strong supporter of subsidies for those that you do.

The quality of your arguments can be judged from:
'Criticism of H2 as a transportation fuel source is pretty widespread. The critics extend well beyond blog commenters and include extremely well qualified researchers such as MIT professor and energy researchers Donald Sadoway, Mildred Dresselhaus and Noble Laureate and former US Energy Secretary Steven Chu.'

In what way does that support your notion that:
' this nonsense can not go on without serious consequences.'

Digging out a couple of names who have reservations is supposed to be proof absolute that there is no merit at all in it, and it should be completely dismissed?
You include Dr Chu, without of course mentioning that he changed his mind.

Those who are on board with hydrogen include the DOE as well as Dr Chu, and of course all the major car companies.

Not only is that rather arrogant, but displays a total want of knowledge of what constitutes a scientic consensus, as well of course as your apparent assumption of your own infallibiity without the tiresome need to find out much about the subject.

So more flannel, but it is obvious that you have zero qualifications in the subbject which you are so absolute about, however much you try to dance around that awkward fact.


Harvey said:

'For the immediate and near future, improved batteries, H2, water réservoirs seem to be the preferred energy storage means.'

They might be the preferred means, but they are utterly inadequate to the task, which is why good old fossil fuels do the job, and why 'Green' Germany's CO2 emissions per person are 30% above the EU average and perhaps 60% more than nuclear France.


@electric car insider:
Did you pull the names out of a hat that you chose to demonstrate anti fuel cell and hydrogen sentiment, if not remotely a scientific consensus which is the only thing which could possibly justify your notion that:
' this nonsense can not go on without serious consequences?'

Of those, Dr Chu, as I have already indicated, changed his mind and his anti hydrogen stance.

One, Donald Sadoway, does indeed seem to be very much against hydrogen's role in the economy

The third, Mildred Dresselhaus, was co-author of this paper:

That doesn't read too much like an anti hydrogen diatribe to me, but is instead concerned with how to make it work.

You really should learn what a scientific consensus is, and how it differs from dredging up a couple of random scientists who don't fancy it.

If you are going to do that, at least try to get ones who actually agree with the thesis.

But of course that is hard work, not so much fun as declaiming absolutes from a soap box.

You happening on the basis of what appears to be zero basic research to be against something does not 'make it nonsense which has to stop.'



We store energy for extended periods in huge water reservoirs with great success. That way we can meet high hydro electricity demands, during low water winter time, at one of the lowest North American cost.

Eventually, large electrolysers, large H2 reservoirs/tanks and large FCs may play a similar role.

Similarly, future lower cost solar panels and batteries may play an equivalent role at the domestic/home level.

Using all above methods (and more) could turn intermittent RE into 24/7 clean energy in may countries or places.

Most fossil fuel power generating facilities (and current nuclear facilities) could eventually be phased out.


For god's sake read the bloody links to the energy you can store by lifting water up, then come back with some FIGURES showing the energy that would need to be stored, and how much could actually be stored, if you want to argue.

I promise to pay the closest possible attention if you actually go the effort of generating actual figures instead of waving your arms about.


I am not seeing a connection between oil companies and fuel cells. If oil companies wanted hydrogen, why aren't they funding fuel cell development instead playing with token algae programs in La Jolla?

Oil companies with refineries use lots of hydrogen in refineries, I don't see them behind a big push to replace gasoline with hydrogen. There does not seem to be a connection that is visible or invisible, real or imagined, direct or indirect.

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