Japan reviews hydrogen strategy to spur decarbonisation

Japan has started reviewing its basic hydrogen strategy to further spur decarbonisation, as the global energy landscape has changed since the current strategy was created in 2017 mainly owing to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

A council under the trade and industry ministry Meti on 6 March began discussions to reform the country’s hydrogen basic strategy, to embody what the country should pursue its intermediate goals in 2035 and 2040 to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Any revisions to the strategy could be finalized by the end of March 2024.

The council plans to hold a hearing from private-sector companies during the first three meetings, mainly about individual efforts and their opinions of what the country’s strategy should be, including the necessary budget, regulations and policies. It also aims to identify components in the hydrogen strategy that will encourage more private investment by raising involvement, such as demand forecasts and a numerical target of how many domestic water electrolysis facilities the country aims to introduce.

The updated basic strategy will also reflect some elements of more specific hydrogen roadmaps focused on the industrial sector and fuel security. The council will formulate the hydrogen industry strategy by identifying necessary actions for Japanese firms to compete globally in the mid and long-term, along with the firms’ immediate entry into the market. The hydrogen security strategy is now under discussion in other study groups under Meti.

Japan launched its basic hydrogen strategy in December 2017, ahead of the rest of the world. But the strategy still reflects the country’s previous target to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 26pc by the April 2030-March 2031 fiscal year, based on 2013-14 levels, although Japan has strengthened its emission reduction goal since then.

Japan pledged in October 2020 to realize a carbon-neutral society by 2050, and raised its 2030-31 emissions reduction target to 46pc in October 2021. But Japan has faced disruptions in the global fossil fuel market, following the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February 2022. This has prompted the government to rethink its clean energy policy, pressuring it to ensure stable energy supplies as well as decarbonisation.

Japan is betting on hydrogen and ammonia to pursue its net zero emissions and energy security objectives. The country’s hydrogen demand is now expected to hit 3mn t/yr in 2030 before reaching 20mn t/yr by 2050, while its supply costs are projected to fall to ¥20/Nm³ (14.56¢/Nm³) in 2050 from the current ¥100/Nm³.

Engr. Haseeb Ullah

Haseeb covers the global energy market for both conventional and modern energy resources. His expertise is on the global energy supply chain from generation to distribution and end-users. He has a Master degree in Engineering Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.
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