Tuesday, April 12, 2005
"Hydrogen + Fuel Cells on their way to commercialisation"
Company Information: Technova
Technova Inc. is an independent energy consultant in Japan.
Since its establishment in 1987, Technova has been working
for the government (METI, NEDO) and local municipalities.
The major clients include automakers, utilities, gas companies,
construction companies, and national agencies.
Technova conducts many research in renewable area, including
biomass, hydrogen, fuel cells and other energy technologies.
The company is also promoting micro wind power (license from
Tokai University), and CO2 separation (funds from NEDO).
Technova's Activities on Hydrogen and FC
Hydrogen becomes one of main research topics for the last
a few years. Technova has been working for NEDO (New Energy
Development Organization), JARI (Japan Automobile Research
Institute), and NEF (New Energy Foundation).
For the last 7 years, I have been a member of JARI FC Working
Group, and I am one of organizer for the Working Group's oversea
research mission (every year, METI / JARI arrange missionary
to the EU and the US with 10 industry members).
Because Technova is an independent consultants in energy technologies,
its role in the Conference is to provide the latest information
on Japan, as well as objective view on Japan's programs (neutral
from government and industry sector).
Project Manager Research & Development Department Technova
Biography Akiteru Maruta
Mr. Maruta, Project Manager at Technova, is in charge of many
energy projects both in Japan and the World. He has been working
for JARI, METI, utilities and many other national agencies.
Since 1999, he has been a member of JARI/METI Fuel Cell Working
He has been an energy consultant since 1991. Before joined
Technova in 2003, he had been a partner at a private energy
consultancy, Interlink Corporation, in Tokyo.
M. Public Administration, Harvard University
M.A. (International Relations), Waseda University
M.Sc (Engineering), Keio University
Japan’s hydrogen and fuel cells
Project Manager Research & Development Department
Technova Inc., Japan
In 2002, Japanese government launched PEFC System Demonstration
Project, which consists of (1) JHFC project (47 FCVs), and
(2) Stationary FC Demonstration project (31 field test sites).
METI has already request 35.5 billion Yen (=$340 mil) to continue
hydrogen RD&D projects.
We already have many encouraging results from the projects,
but there may be more fundamental questions for Japan’s
hydrogen and fuel cells projects. Why and how does Japan promote
the hydrogen projects? This presentation may answer some of
[Why Japan Goes Hydrogen]
Q. There are still many unclear factors
for hydrogen. We need more time to evaluate all aspects of
hydrogen and other renewable energies. Why does Japanese government
rush into hydrogen technologies?
A. For Japan, hydrogen is an energy, not
the energy. It is one of options of future energies. The main
policy target of Japan is to reduce energy consumption of
the nation, and reduce the GHG emissions. Because we need
to know more about hydrogen as fuel, learning by doing approach
is the best solution.
[Japan’s Targets, Too High?]
Q. Japanese government has very ambitious
fuel cell targets; for FCVs, 50,000 by 2010 and 5 millon by
2020; and for stationary PEFC, 2.1 GW by 2010 and 10 GW by
2020. Can Japan achieve the targets? What is the status today?
A. The history gives us some lessons; in
1991, METI (MITI) announced an ambitions target for electric
vehicles; 200,000 EVs by 2000. But, because of disappointed
progress of battery technology, there were only 1300 EVs by
2000. For the target achievement, technology development really
matters. Today, many people believe Japan’s targets
are very high (or too high). But it is still early to judge.
We expect technology innovation through the demonstration
projects. According to Japanese government, we are in the
introduction stage of fuel cell technology (from 2005 to 2010).
So the next five years are the most critical period for the
[Or, Too Low?]
Q. Human beings are moving toward less
carbon-content energy; from coal to natural gas. So, it is
clear that hydrogen is the energy of future. Therefore, industrial
countries, including Japan, have to invest more money and
human resources into hydrogen R&D. True?
A. Unlike other carbon-content energies,
hydrogen is not available as a natural resource. We have to
produce it. So, we need to identify the most energy-efficient
path for the production. This is why Japan’s JHFC project
has 10 hydrogen supply stations from different sources to
evaluate the net energy-efficiency of paths.
[Automobile or Stationary…Which Comes First?]
Q. Traditionally, fuel cell / hydrogen community
believe that potable and stationary markets are the starters.
But, because of slow growth of stationary market, more and
more people believe the opposite; Auto-market comes first.
So, which comes (or should come) first?
A. Doesn’t matter. Markets always
need commodities prior to customers. No Prius, no hybrid car
market. Any R&D efforts contribute the cost reduction
of the fuel cell technology (especially FC components). This
is why Japanese government took double track approach; JHFC
Project and stationary demonstration project in parallel.
[Prius Kills Fuel Cell Vehicles?]
Q. According to Toyota, the new Prius achieved
net energy efficiency of 32%, which exceeds current fuel cell
vehicles’ energy performance. Does this means hybrid
cars win? No future for fuel cell Vehicles?
A. No. Basically, hybrid technology can
be applied to all types of vehicles, including fuel cell vehicles.
The technology can optimize the energy outputs from the stack
and battery. Fuel cell hybrid vehicles are the ultimate targets
[Commitment, Competition, and Cooperation]
Q. There are so many failed stories of government-funded
mega-projects. Are Japan’s hydrogen/fuel cell projects
going to the same stories?
A. Maybe no. Basically governmental funds
lower the risks of technology innovations. But, the innovations
need the commitments from both government and industry. Photovoltaic
is the typical example. Japanese government’s firm commitments
on PV technology helped industries to invest money into PV
No company follows the national policy, if they see any lip
service (or politics) in the government’s comments.
Also, international competition works as the holding environment
for the commitment. The US PNGV really stimulated Japanese
automakers (Maybe PNGV is the real mother for Prius). Today,
Japan-EU-USA hydrogen projects are stimulating each other’s
policies, creating synergy for hydrogen R&D --- cooperative
We see “Commitment, Competition, and Cooperation”
Download the presentation (pdf)