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Japan updates hydrogen fuel cell targets; 320 stations by 2025, 800,000 vehicles by 2030

Japan’s Council for a Strategy for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, which includes experts from industry, academia, and government, recently issued a revised version of the Strategic Roadmap for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) established the Council in December 2013; the Strategic Road Map was first published in June 2014. With the increased dissemination of fuel cells for households, the launch of fuel cell vehicles onto the market, and steady progress in the construction of hydrogen stations, the Council has revised the plan, setting new targets. For vehicles, these targets are:

  • About 40,000 fuel cell vehicles by 2020; 200,000 by 2025; and about 800,000 by 2030, in total. Currently there are some 500 fuel cell vehicles on the roads.

  • The number of hydrogen stations is to increase to about 160 stations by 2020 and about 320 stations by 2025. There are about 80 currently.

The council also discussed the technical and economic challenges concerning the utilization of hydrogen generated using renewable energy.

The new plan published by METI also calls for research and development to reduce the cost of fuel cells to one-fourth the current level.

The Asahi Shimbun reported that the Japanese government projects that the cost of fuel cells can be halved from the current level by 2020 and lowered to around one-fourth by 2025 by reducing the use of expensive cell materials and the standardization and sharing of cell components.

Reduction in stack cost will enable the auto industry to introduce popular-market FCV models priced less than ¥3,000,000 (US$27,500), according to the plan.

Toyota Motor has said it plans to achieve annual global sales of more than 30,000 Mirai fuel cell vehicles by 2020.

Comments

Roger Pham

@E-P,

Hydrogen can replace ALL fossil fuels, like Coal, Petroleum, and Natural Gas, for all manner of usages, so Hydrogen is not restricted to transportation.

However, since petroleum has been costing a lot higher per thermal unit than coal or natural gas, then Hydrogen from Renewable Energy (H2-RE) would be cost competitive with petroleum first, in order to bring back revenue for Solar and Wind investors, before H2-RE will be cost competitive with coal and natural gas. That is one of the reason why H2-RE is advocated for FCEV as a petroleum substitute, beside being a Zero-Emission fuel for the ZEV mandate.

The involvement of energy companies with vast cash reserves in the commercialization of H2-RE will be very important to accelerate the phasing-out of fossil fuel just in time to keep warming to below 2 degrees C to avoid disaster. The governments world-wide will need to work with energy companies and instituting mandates to gradually phasing in H2-RE while phasing out all fossil fuels.

The phasing process has to be gradual enough so that the energy companies will be able to recoup existing investments in fossil fuel projects and infrastructures. This is not hard to do. All the energy companies have to is to halt future investments in fossil fuels while put all future energy investments in RE, batteries, and H2 projects and infrastructures.

Halting future investments in fossil fuels will make those scarce, hence maintain decent fossil fuel prices and will allow recoupment of investments expediently.

electric-car-insider.com

Meanwhile, in other news, Samsung SDI exists the fuel cell business entirely.

A spokesperson commented:

“Samsung SDI decided to drop fuel cell-related business projects, as the outlook of the market isn’t good"

Sheldon Harrison

Kudos to Japan for moving forward with this. Between Japan, Germany, California etc., enough critical mass should be achieved to bring the price of fuel cell and related systems down significantly and initiate a recursive feedback loop of increasing availability. It has already started. The cost reduction curve for fuel cells appears to have the potential to be much steeper than batteries because of some fundamental facts that many care to ignore like the much more modest materials resource requirements for example.

Many folks understand that current and on the horizon chemical batteries CANNOT operate and provide the flexibility that a fluid fuel (any that you care to mention, including H2) offers. Particularly devastating is the quick refill capability. For a mobile vehicle that is all about autonomy, this is critical. It allows the use of the vehicle in any combination of usage patterns that is desired without constraint. No need to plan the usage of the vehicle around the recharge limitations. It is one of two reasons the BEV lost out in the first place.

I will repeat for the umpteenth time, for a BEV to be a full scale replacement of current fluid fuel technology, either of these needs to occur:

1. The vehicle needs to have a range large enough that recharging time becomes a moot point because the vehicle can typically be used without the constraint of the need for recharging during a typical operating session. For automobiles, I will argue that this number is necessarily about the distance that can be covered in a reasonable day of interstate type driving or about 500 - 600 miles.

2. If such a range is not met, the other possibility is that the charging time is low enough (10 minutes or less) that recharging is not a major "required" time investment. Talking about eating / doing other tasks while recharging does not cut it because not all folks want to be constrained as such. They like the freedom to do as they please and plan their trips without such concerns.

To get to option 1, a typical vehicle will need well north of 100KWH storage capacity, 150 - 200 is probably more in the ballpark. For option 2, the required capacity may be relaxed to the 80 - 140 KWH range but the recharge time to full restored range needs to be no more than 10 minutes. Talking about renting a vehicle or using a second, suitable vehicle implies conceding that the BEV is not a full scale replacement. These options, especially renting come with their own costs(transaction time plus upfront cost in the case of rentals) or the extra expense of a second, suitable vehicle if the desire was a single vehicle for all typical needs.

A FCEV can technically do all that a gasoline vehicle does with the added benefit of a much shorter supply chain and the potential of being very clean in comparison. The main stumbling block is the current high cost/lack of infrastructure which Germany et. al are attempting to address. It is definitely worth investing in!! Note, by no means am I saying BEVs are not worth investing in as well. It's just that they can't currently and will not likely in the future meet all needs if we desire 100% clean transport, barring some breakthrough not on the horizon.

electric-car-insider.com

Sheldon, I'll accept that you may feel the need for 500-600 miles range from your vehicle. And if you're personally willing to pay the obscene price it will take to purchase the vehicle, infrastructure and fuel to do it with true zero tailpipe emissions (including long tailpipe), bully for you. Go ahead and pay $2x for the car and $6x to $8x for the fuel. Bravo.

But 400,000 people have said otherwise, and paid a premium for the privilege of driving that low-range BEV you say is so impractical. Voted with their wallets. And another 400,000 just paid $1,000 deposits to reserve a place in line for a 200 mile BEV with 45 minute charging.

Less than 100 have put their money on your bet and drive hydrogen vehicles. Most of those who did have a work-related tie to the FCV or H2 industry.

No matter how many times you make your case, the scoreboard will only get more lopsided as more people vote with their wallet for BEVs and PHEVs. Within 3 years the ratio will be at least 10,000 to 1, PEVs vs FCV.

Even the FCV manufacturers concede that we won't see volumes past 1,000 for several years, and only then if they can actually find that many people who share your unusual set of requirements and are similarly price insensitive.

Samsung SDI just exited the fuel cell business citing bleak prospects. Daimler has gone on record as seeing better opportunities for electric vs hydrogen, and they were a prime proponent.

I admire your conviction if not your pragmatism. When you're down 10,000 to 1, you gotta really believe to keep cheering.

DaveD

Thanks Sheldon, I'm sure that every human on planet earth will be thrilled to know that you've set the requirements for all of us. Nobody can be happy with anything less than 500-600 miles because YOU have some kind of psychological issues. Nobody can be happy with more than 10 minutes because YOU are the new "decider".

Did you also mention that all women must be perfect 10's and all men must look like Chris Hemsworth and fight like Conan the Barbarian with the IQ of Einstein.

Please let us know what other requirements you have. And we'll tell the 400,000 people who are trying to buy the new Tesla and the hundreds of thousands that have already bought EVs that YOU said to return them. Thank you for your input.

#assclown #sheldon

Engineer-Poet

I wonder if Sheldon would be happy with infinite range?  Sliding contacts are a time-tested way of transferring power to a vehicle in motion.  Self-driving capabilities are already here.  Combine these two and you have a way to charge an EV while it is on the road.  You just have a special "charging lane", with the contacts either on the ground or perhaps within a slot in the guardrail.  For ten miles or so the driver takes a breather while the car takes care of business.

One of those lanes every 100 miles would let a car with a 200-mile battery cruise all day and all night.  Add charging when the human element stops for refreshment, and the problem pretty much disappears.

HarveyD

The most plentiful REs (Solar, Wind and Hydro and many others) exist in huge quantities, are basically free (except for harvesting cost) and will be around as long as we need electricity.

Unfortunately, Solar and Wind e-sources are intermittent and need effective long term storage to maintain 24/7 use.

H2 could become one of the most effective way to store surplus/excess REs while supplying clean energy for FCEVs and other FCs, large and small.

Future batteries may be able to eventually do it too, but unless we get long life 10-10-10 batteries soon, the H2 venue may have taken the market. Batteries will/are not necessarily cheap to buy or to operate.

NB: Our effective wireless vacuum cleaner worked like a charm for almost 12 months until it needed a new $75 battery ($64 from China). The e-energy required to recharge this battery 250+ times was negligible, but the new batteries cost is too high.

FCs versus high performance batteries may be an ongoing commercial war. Basic requirements may dictate the final choice for many applications.

electric-car-insider.com

Harvey, are you really going to trot out a trope about your vacuum cleaner battery only lasting a year in the context of electric cars, as if that had anything to do with anything under discussion?

HarveyD

It was just to point out that lithium batteries don't last that long and are costly to replace.

I could have added that many BEV owners have to change their battery pack after 5 years of cold weather operations or learn to live with shorter e-range.

Our HEVs seem to run less on EV power after 3+ years of cold weather operation? The net result is more (5% to 10%) fuel consumption?

electric-car-insider.com

HD> It was just to point out that lithium batteries don't last that long and are costly to replace.

This is the kind of overly general, unqualified statement that puts your credibility in a very poor light, Harvey. Batteries for consumer electronics and appliances, which have very limited battery managemwnt systems, and generally use cheaper cells, have very little relationship to the sophisticated batteries in cars.

There are Chevy Volt owners with 300,000 miles on their car. Nissan Leaf owners with well over 100,00 miles on the battery pack.

Some specific models made in specific years had well-publicized capacity loss. But all these systems have well defined warranties, generally 8 years 100,000 miles. Nissan added a capacity guarantee after it realized there was a problem with early models.

But hey, why feel the need to be specific or accurate about anything?

DaveD

Harvey,
Hey, the Hindenberg blew up! So I would never trust an HFCV!!!

I remember the diesels of the 1980's. They would blow up after about 20,000 miles and have to be rebuilt and then they'd blow up again. So we shouldn't use diesels for trucks, locomotives, large machinery, or ANYTHING.

Seriously???

Lithium batteries are so VASTLY different that it's silly to generalize about them...EVER. Your vacuum cleaner has nothing to do with anything here so please leave it out of the discussion. It's a cheap scare tactic.

HarveyD

Facts are that EV batteries performance go down faster in cold weather operation and will reach the 80% level much sooner.

Like with Diesel ICEV high pollution levels, most BEV manufacturers are reluctant to publish batteries degradation under adverse weather conditions. Nissan Leaf eventually did it but it affected their sales negatively.

All weather BEVs must have an extra 30+% capacity to meet claimed extended e-range in adverse conditions. Future improvement in accessories (HVAC etc) and battery protection and management may reduce this requirement.

electric-car-insider.com

I agree Harvey. BEV range diminishes in very cold weather. Battery temp management is the solution, not a 2x or 3x as expensive, high capacity battery. A Rex or liquid fuel heater will do just fine.

Sheldon Harrison

Boy, you guys really take things personally. I simply point out that for some folks (10, 20 30%?), the vehicle needs flexible operating characteristics that current and on the horizon batteries cannot provide and you dispute it. I spell out what those vehicles need to meet that criteria and you get upset. A survey came out recently of people's stated requirements indicating exactly as such and we choose to ignore the findings, instead saying folks don't know what they want or need.

I ask you to do a simple observation of some of your fellow humans. You know, the ones speeding at 80+ mph along the interstate risking life and tickets, even in the rain and ask yourself how patient do they seem to be. Some of them refuse to even do something as simple as sit down for 10 minutes at a fast food establishment to eat before continuing their journey. They rather eat in the car while they keep moving. I will state this with absolute certainty. "Until BEVs offer the characteristics I pointed out, their market is large, but will always be a fraction of the total market". Will it happen? Who knows if and when. What we do know is that while expensive currently, FCEVs and H2 can technically offer those characteristics today with the added bonus that H2 is a potential storage mechanism of variable renewables that do not come on our schedules.

electric-car-insider.com

Sheldon, I'm not upset in the least. Quite dispassionate.

It's simple economics. H2 can not be economically competitive. It's a sham.

You want to pretend that this chimera is going to become real in your lifetime? Be my guest.

But if you're going to retain even a shred of credibility, pencil out a plausible scenario for competitively priced H2. Based on real products, available now, or credibly in the pipeline.

Otherwise be prepared to answer some rather sharp questions about how your daydream will become a real product.

Because we can't get to work or fetch the groceries on the smoke rings you and Harvey and Roger blow from fairy dust.

Numbers, sir. Real numbers are the currency here.

Engineer-Poet
I simply point out that for some folks (10, 20 30%?), the vehicle needs flexible operating characteristics that current and on the horizon batteries cannot provide and you dispute it.

And the other 70, 80, 90%... they're going to be driving the market.  No automaker is going to be able to make a profit on a whole different drivetrain technology to serve 10%.  Neither will fuel providers.

I spell out what those vehicles need to meet that criteria and you get upset.

You're projecting.  I pointed out to you that charging-in-motion is a solved problem (which eliminates the range issue) and you (a) made an unspecific accusation of others being upset and (b) tried to change the subject.  I'd say that's the indication of a direct hit.

This suggests that you are invested in hydrogen somehow.  Emotionally, likely.  Professionally?  Are you paid to promote it?  It's known that most big interests have astroturf efforts to promote their agendas.  Big Oil, with its massive reserves of natural gas that are just a reforming step away from [dirty, CO2-emitting] hydrogen, knows which side its bread is buttered on.  If they were going to pay people to promote their continued well-being at the cost of the planet, those people would sound just like you.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

DaveD

Sheldon,
You point out what a survey is saying from "average people" today. That is the equivalent of asking the "average person" in 1900 if they'd give up their horse this year because those new "automobile things" are going to be hot.

You have to look at the people who actually keep up with these things and know the realities of the new tech. Of *those* people, 80% of them believe BEVs already have a strong lead and are moving up slowly but surely with cars that will suffice. 20% or less believe the H2 panacea and they seem to be mostly extreme cases where their personal needs (like Harvey) don't match up with with current battery tech.

But Harvey, and people like him, are not being realistic. The chance of volume H2 cars AND H2 infrastructure being available all over Canada before an EV can add a liquid fuel heater plus battery mgt to make the batteries better...is simply not realistic economically. Money and practicality dictate in these situations and H2 has a VERY uphill battle on so many fronts.

How could they possibly compete with the PHEVs that will exist in the next 2 years that already take advantage of the current petrol infrastructure? The average person simply does NOT care enough to live with the impractical realities of H2 when a PHEV does the job. In addition, people in Northern Europe are doing just fine with EVs today.

There will literally be millions of EVs on the road in a couple of years with a fairly advanced infrastructure. If you want to argue that H2 will win, you have to make a compelling case based on reality...not what you wish/hope will exist in 5 years.

Robin

@ECI:

Japan will produce electricity from nuclear and renewable and then produce hydrogen by electrolysis. You may like it or not, it is their plan and they are going very fast in this direction. That is the only way for them to be independent.

@DaveD:

I am not trolling for H2, I also think batteries will have an important place in the future. Both technology can and will exist together. I am sorry if I hurt your feeling with my comments on Tesla.
What you say about US may be true however there is a world around it. In EU and JP, the problematic in term of natural ressources gives an advantages to H2. The higher density of population will make easier to create an H2 station network than can serve everyone. In the same time, the major part of the population live in appartement and park their car in the street. Many of them use public transport and use their car only for long trip. Again an advantage to hydrogen. The market of pure EV is growing fast in EU, but mainly for short range and (very) compact car.

Robin

I forgot to mention: hydrogen is indeed an energy carrier (and a very good one) and that is the reason why you can create an hydrogen economy that lead to be independent in term of energy.

electric-car-insider.com

Robin, I think maybe you are not paying attention to what is actually going on in Japan.

How many nuclear plants are actually running today?

What renewables are the busy building out?

No matter how much you may wish for a hydrogen society, it's not going to happen unless the price for H2 is competitive. It isn't now, and there are some very sound reasons why it will probably not be for decades, if ever.

Go ahead and pencil out some numbers for ROI on a H2 fuel station. We'd love to hear exactly how you see this working.

David Freeman

The only way FCEV's can compete in the light vehicle sector is by dropping hydrogen as a fuel and using existing liquid fuels.

HarveyD

Coal, Oil, NG, water (falls), Wind, Solar light, wawes, geothermal, nuclear radiation and many others are mainly energy carriers and/or energy storage.

Once transformed into electricity, most of those energies have to be used, otherwise it will be lost.

Large water reservoirs coupled with (variable production) Hydro plants are very good for electricity storage for short, medium and long terms.

Other electricity producing plants are not that easy to adjust to match demand.

Matching production to demand is not always easy or possible without huge energy lost.

To avoid huge e-energy lost, e-storage becomes essential. Future 5-5-5 or 10-10-10 batteries will be useful for short term storage.

Another energy carrier (H2) could be used today if we use excess e-energy to make H2, store it and latter use it to produce e-energy on an as required basis. Simultaneously, we could use some of this H2 made with excess e-energy from REs, NPPs etc to feed a large fleet of FCEVs.

To make H2 with (very low cost) excess e-energy does not have to be very costly.

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