In the context of energy transition, the development of hydrogen energy has become the consensus of developed economies. Japan, the United States, the European Union, and South Korea, and other major developed economies in the world have taken the development of hydrogen energy industry as a national energy strategy.
Among them, Japan has performed most prominently in the development of the global hydrogen energy industry. In addition to the country's continuous promulgation and revision of policies to promote the development of the hydrogen energy industry, the cooperation and common development of related companies in the hydrogen energy industry chain in Japan have played an important role.
This article explores how Japanese energy companies play a role in the early stages of industrial development, and what are the development experiences and lessons? These have important reference value for Chinese energy companies to develop hydrogen energy business.
Japan's Hydrogen Industry Policy and Development Status
Hydrogen policy is clearly oriented
Japan started research on hydrogen production, storage, transportation and utilization in 1973, and provided financial support for it.
In May 2013, the "Japan Rejuvenation Strategy" promoted the development of hydrogen energy as a national policy.
In 2014, Japan ’s fourth “Energy Basic Plan” positioned hydrogen energy as a core secondary energy source alongside electric power and thermal energy, and proposed to build a “hydrogen society”.
The "Hydrogen Energy and Fuel Cell Development Strategy Roadmap" released in June 2014 formulated a "three-step" development plan and revised it twice in 2016 and 2019 to clarify specific development routes and quantify The development goals have further refined and reduced the cost targets.
The "Basic Strategy for Hydrogen Energy" formulated in December 2017 proposes specific development goals and implementation paths for the establishment of a carbon-free "hydrogen society".
For more than 40 years, Japan has continuously improved its strategic plans, roadmaps, policies and regulations, and guided government departments, enterprises and research institutions to vigorously promote the development and utilization of hydrogen energy.
In order to promote the development of the hydrogen energy industry, the Japanese government has formulated corresponding support policies to continuously subsidize the construction of hydrogen refueling stations, domestic fuel cell systems, fuel cells, and consumers who purchase fuel cell vehicles.
Judging from the trends of these policy revisions, the focus of Japan's hydrogen energy development strategy and industrial policy in recent years has been on reducing the cost of each link of the industrial chain.
The hydrogen industry has become a system
At present, Japan has initially formed a relatively complete hydrogen energy industry chain system.
In the field of hydrogen production, mainly rely on fossil energy to produce hydrogen (natural gas, LPG) and industrial by-product hydrogen. Since domestic hydrogen supply cannot be self-sufficient, the focus of resource supply strategy is to establish overseas hydrogen supply, renewable energy production and regional hydrogen supply. Three major supply systems.
In the field of hydrogen storage and transportation, in addition to conventional high-pressure storage and transportation, the development and utilization of hydrogen energy carriers is one of the ten strategic innovation projects of the Japanese government, focusing on the three directions of liquefied hydrogen, liquid organic compound storage and transportation, and ammonia storage and transportation.
In the field of hydrogen energy utilization, the focus is on the development of fuel cell passenger cars and fuel cell cogeneration systems. The most representative are Toyota's Mirai and Honda's Clarity fuel cell passenger cars (3,000 domestic vehicles), and Ene-farm fuel cell combined heat and power system (340,000 units in China).
Japan's hydrogen refueling station construction equipment costs about 400 million-500 million yen, hydrogen price of 1,000-1100 yen / kg.
In the field of standards and technology, Japan has actively participated in the development of international standards, and has formed a complete domestic standard system of laws and regulations around participating in the formulation of the Global Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Specifications and the United Nations Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Vehicle Specifications. It has formed unique core technologies in the fields of fuel cell research and development, passenger vehicle development, hydrogen storage and transportation, and miniaturized hydrogen energy applications.
Experience of Japanese energy companies developing hydrogen energy business
Pay attention to the development of hydrogen energy business and actively carry out industrial synergy
Since Japan identified the development of the hydrogen energy industry as a national strategy, Japanese energy companies have realized the importance of national energy strategies to corporate development strategies.
Major energy companies make full use of the supporting policies issued by the state, and actively carry out experiments and demonstrations. While serving the national energy strategy, they will open up new business areas for enterprises, win future competitive advantages, and achieve sustainable development.
The hydrogen energy industry chain is long and has many links. Japanese energy companies collaborate with companies of different types and industries, join relevant industry organizations, effectively synergize their development strategies with industry development strategies, and jointly bear development risks and benefits.
For example, Iwatani Industry Co., Ltd. (Iwatani Industry for short), JXTG (New Japan Petroleum), Mitsubishi Corporation and other companies have joined the International Hydrogen Energy Commission (HydrogenCouncil), participated in the development of the international hydrogen energy industry roadmap, and carried out international hydrogen energy industry cooperation.
Chiyoda Chemical Construction Co., Ltd. (referred to as Chiyoda Chemical), Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsui Corporation and Japan Post Shipping Company formed the "Advanced Hydrogen Supply Chain Technology Development Alliance (AHEAD)" to jointly set up a fund to develop technology for the hydrogen energy supply chain.
JXTG, Iwatani Industry and other 11 automotive, energy, and financial companies have established "Japan H2Mobility (JHyM)" to coordinate the development of hydrogen refueling stations.
Formulate a hydrogen energy development strategy based on the characteristics of the company, and carry out experiments and demonstrations based on technological advantages
While clarifying the future development of hydrogen energy business, Japanese energy companies have combined their own business advantages to position their hydrogen energy development strategies.
Relying on its own technological advantages, it will carry out trials and demonstrations with the support of national subsidy policies, and then promote it when conditions are ripe.
Iwatani Industry is a gas supply company with a focus on liquefied petroleum gas, portable gas stoves, and industrial gases. The company is positioned to be the "Japan's number one" hydrogen supplier.
The company has been selling hydrogen since 1941, and has continuously promoted the production, improvement and supply chain development of hydrogen. It currently has the largest market share of compressed hydrogen and liquefied hydrogen in Japan, and is the only supplier of liquefied hydrogen products in Japan.
Iwatani Industries leverages the advantages of liquefied hydrogen technology and mainly promotes liquefied hydrogen storage and transportation technology. Currently, three liquefied hydrogen plants have been deployed in the capital area, Kansai area, and northern Kyushu area.
As a comprehensive energy company, under the premise of keeping the oil business as the main policy, JXTG regards the hydrogen energy business as one of the strategic development directions, and conducts a full chain around the hydrogen supply, storage, and sales in the national hydrogen energy strategy. The recent strategic focus is on the construction of hydrogen production and hydrogenation stations. At present, a hydrogen production plant using LPG as a raw material has been put into operation. Hydrogen storage and transportation are carried out by means of pressure cylinders and long-tube pressure trailers.
Chiyoda Chemical is a large engineering company specializing in the construction of industrial facilities, especially LNG facilities and refineries.
The company focuses on the development and construction of large-scale overseas hydrogen storage and transportation projects and technology development, focusing on the development of overseas hydrogen resource acquisition. Chiyoda Chemical, under the funding of the Japanese government agency, carried out large-scale toluene-based hydrogen storage technology research and development and engineering tests for organic compounds, successfully developed a dehydrogenation catalyst, and achieved a methylcyclohexane dehydrogenation conversion rate of over 95% and toluene selectivity Over 99.9% and catalyst life over 10,000 hours.
Using this technology, hydrogen made from Brunei natural gas at a distance of 5,000 km can be transported to Japan by means of liquid organic compounds, which can be used by power plants after dehydrogenation.
Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. (Osaka Gas for short) is Japan's second largest natural gas supplier. It has rich engineering practice experience in hydrogen production from natural gas. The strategic starting point of its hydrogen energy business is to promote the development of natural gas business. Cogeneration technology, competing with power companies for users.
At the same time, Osaka Gas will use the hydrogen refueling station as a demonstration business to display and promote the skid-mounted natural gas reforming hydrogen production equipment in the sales station.
The management system of hydrogen energy business is different due to different enterprises.
There is no common paradigm for different companies' hydrogen energy business management systems.
For example, the hydrogen business of Iwatani Industry Co., Ltd. is under the management of the Industrial Gas Division. The related management system is relatively mature, so there is no separate establishment.
Companies such as Osaka Gas rely on existing business units and business classifications for management.
Among them, the domestic fuel cell combined heat and power supply business is under the management of the LNG and Electricity Production Division; the hydrogen station demonstration and skid-mounted natural gas hydrogen equipment business is under the management of the New Business Promotion Division.
Companies such as JXTG and Chiyoda Chemical have set up hydrogen energy business promotion departments.
Among them, JXTG's hydrogen energy business promotion department and oil and gas, electric power, new energy and other departments are managed on a level basis. The oil / hydrogen construction station business is managed and operated by two different departments.
Chiyoda Chemicals established the Hydrogen Business Promotion Department to make it an important business equivalent to the LNG business.
As the hydrogen energy business is still in a loss state in Japan, companies' assessment of the hydrogen energy business is one of highlighting the reduction of costs in various links, and the other is the coordination of various departments to promote the improvement of overall performance.
Urgent need for resources and markets, looking forward to working with Chinese companies
At present, the technical route for the development of the Japanese hydrogen energy industry has been opened, and the focus of future development is to reduce the cost of each link.
However, due to the slow promotion of hydrogen energy application in Japan and the bottleneck of foreign hydrogen resource acquisition, related Japanese companies hope to explore China's resources and markets, on the one hand, export mature technologies and equipment, and on the other hand, acquire low-cost hydrogen energy resources in China. Transported back to Japan to promote the development of the country's hydrogen energy industry, bring into play the scale effect of existing technologies, and quickly reduce costs.
Enlightenment of Japanese experience to Chinese energy companies
Prospects for the development and utilization of hydrogen energy
In the context of the global energy transition and the rapid development of renewable energy, hydrogen as a clean secondary energy and energy storage medium will play an important role in the process of opening up fossil energy, renewable energy and power grids, and promoting renewable energy. Large-scale use of energy, peak storage of energy storage, and upgrading of renewable energy will play a key role.
From a global perspective, there are no technical obstacles to the hydrogen energy utilization industry chain. The industrial development has entered the introduction period, and the focus of development is to reduce costs.
Compared with Japan, in terms of development potential, China has abundant hydrogen resources and a huge market. Hydrogen energy will play an important role in advancing the energy transition and building a clean, low-carbon, safe and efficient energy system.
In the industrial development stage, benefiting from the development of the international hydrogen energy industry, China has passed the high-input technology pioneering stage and entered the commercial introduction period, and the enterprise has paid relatively little to develop the hydrogen energy business.
In terms of policy support, in addition to the traditional financial subsidies for the industrial chain, China ’s key areas of public transport and freight transportation are more likely to quickly form large-scale markets.
"Promote the construction of hydrogenation facilities" has been written in the "Government Work Report" in 2019, "Hydrogen Energy and Fuel Cells" has been included in the "Industrial Catalog of Green Industry (2019 Edition)" of the Development and Reform Commission, and more than 20 local governments have successively introduced the development of hydrogen energy The industrial policy of China has initially formed six hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cell vehicle industry groups in East China, Central China, South China, North China, Northeast China, and Southwest China.
The development of hydrogen energy should take the lead in strategy, and create distinctive advantages due to corporate regulations
From the experience of Japanese companies developing hydrogen energy, only with the support of national development strategies can companies develop rapidly.
Japanese energy companies have relied on technological advantages or market advantages to formulate hydrogen energy development strategies in line with their own characteristics, and create unique advantages through industrial synergy to improve market competitiveness.
It can be seen that serving the national energy strategy and formulating a hydrogen energy development route in line with the characteristics of the enterprise is a successful development experience.
Chinese energy companies can learn from the practices of Japanese companies, position hydrogen energy as one of the future energy replacement businesses, and formulate development strategies.
Give full play to the advantages of hydrogen production, storage and transportation, gas stations and natural gas terminal utilization, etc., formulate development plans, play a strategic and leading role, and better serve the national energy transition.
The hydrogen industry's profitable road is arduous and long. Don't swarm and attack across the board.
Despite years of development in Japan, the costs of manufacturing, storage, transportation, and hydrogen use are still high, the industrial chain is not economical, and industrial development depends on policy support.
The technological level of China's hydrogen energy industry chain is not far behind that of Japan, and the cost is higher.
Moreover, China's energy prices are quite different from Japan's. The prices of civilian electricity, natural gas and refined oil are lower than Japan's. The sales price of hydrogen is basically the same as Japan's. It is more difficult to replace other energy sources with hydrogen than Japan's. Commercial operations that do not rely on subsidies require greater effort.
In general, Japanese energy companies do not make large-scale investment in the entire hydrogen industry chain, but rely on their own characteristics to selectively develop hydrogen energy business.
For example, the Iwatani industry relies on domestic leading liquefied hydrogen technology to develop the construction of a liquefied hydrogen storage and transportation system. Relying on the advantages of gas stations, JXTG focused on the construction of hydrogen station networks under government subsidies.
Under the circumstances that the industry is not economical and the prospects are not clear, the relevant companies have maintained a sound development strategy, carried out experiments and demonstrations, and experienced the development of the industry and technology. At the same time, they used economics as the evaluation standard and appropriately advanced the relevant industries. , Investment related fields.
In our country, due to a large influx of social capital, the hydrogen energy industry is showing an overheating trend. It is suggested that China's energy companies should maintain their strategic strength and deploy their businesses appropriately in accordance with the technological development stage and the degree of market cultivation.
Tactical pilots are used first to take advantage of the characteristics of China's key development of hydrogen fuel cell buses and logistics vehicles. Among the six major industrial clusters and representative cities, the pilot demonstration of hydrogen refueling stations in policy highlands is preferred.
At the same time, it will use venture capital and equity investment methods to deploy related fields and key enterprises, master key core technology and equipment, cultivate business models and talents, and prepare for the next large-scale development.
Developing hydrogen energy must establish a global perspective and strengthen international exchanges and cooperation
The development of the hydrogen energy industry is inseparable from the global industrial chain collaboration. Energy companies at home and abroad have joined industrial alliances and international organizations one after another to cooperate with car manufacturers and fuel cell companies to promote the development of the hydrogen energy industry.
It is suggested that China's energy companies actively join the international hydrogen energy committee and other domestic and foreign organizations to participate in the formulation of hydrogen energy industry standards and development roadmaps.
Strengthen communication with Japanese companies, combine Japanese companies' technologies and experience with the infrastructure and potential markets of Chinese oil companies, and achieve complementary advantages and promote a win-win situation.
The management mechanism of hydrogen energy business should be considered in advance and implemented in succession
It can be seen from the management system and mechanism of the hydrogen energy business of Japanese related companies that there is no fixed management method for the development of hydrogen energy business. Japanese companies adopt a corresponding management system according to the importance of hydrogen energy business and different stages of development.
It is suggested that China's energy companies combine their own characteristics, development strategies and management systems and mechanisms to establish a new business development model suitable for the company.
At present, the hydrogen energy industry in China already has the basic conditions for entering the initial stage of industrialization. The national and local governments have issued various policies and plans to encourage industrial development.
Thanks to the development of the international hydrogen energy industry, China has passed the high-input technology pioneering stage and entered the commercial introduction period. Enterprises will pay relatively little for the development of hydrogen energy business. It is easier for China's key areas of public transport and freight to quickly develop large-scale markets.
At the same time, we should also clearly realize that there is a mismatch in the development of China's hydrogen energy industry in terms of policies, technologies, and industrial cooperation.
Chinese energy companies and Japanese energy companies face different development environments. From the perspective of Japanese energy companies' experience in developing hydrogen energy, energy companies must follow the path of developing hydrogen energy businesses with Chinese characteristics.