According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, nearly 25 gigatons of CO2―over half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions―come from the use of fossil fuels in electricity and heat generation, industry, and transportation.
Realizing the importance of taking on this challenge by establishing carbon-neutral supply chains across different sectors (from power generation to vehicle fueling) as soon as possible, major corporate and public sector partners in Japan have decided to work together.
The new initiative aims to trial a full-fledged carbon-neutral hydrogen supply chain powered by renewable wind energy. The trials will take place near the cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki in the Keihin coastal region.
Hydrogen has the potential to permanently change the way we generate and use power. It can be created using renewable energy sources, stored, transported, and used at a later point―all with minimal environmental burden.
While hydrogen is most commonly created through a reaction between methane and steam, it can also be created from water through electrolysis. More often than not, this requires electricity―which is still typically produced using fossil-fuel-burning power plants. Since the overall environmental benefit of hydrogen is only as strong as the method used to produce it, global research initiatives around the world are dedicated to developing large-scale carbon-neutral projects that use renewable energy to power hydrogen production.
Under this trial project, wind power will be used to turn water into oxygen and hydrogen, with the latter stored for use locally. Grid power will only be used for backup when absolutely necessary and excess renewable energy produced may even be sold to utility companies.
As plans currently stand, the project will involve:
– A system to produce hydrogen by electrolyzing water using wind power
– A system to optimize storage and transportation of hydrogen produced
– Use of fuel cell forklifts
– A hydrogen supply chain feasibility study (hydrogen price, CO2 reduction, etc.)
On the public sector side, the project is being implemented by the Kanagawa Prefectural Government, Yokohama City, and Kawasaki City. The four private sector participants are Iwatani Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, Toyota Motor Corporation, and Toyota Turbine and Systems Inc. In addition, the project will be supported by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment.
The total project duration is expected to take place over four years. At this stage, the project partners are still discussing specifics. Implementation is set to begin from April 2016 onward.