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Offshore wind to power Japan’s largest green hydrogen plant

Out-Law News | 30 Jul 2021 | 1:01 am | 1 min. read

Japan plans to build its biggest hydrogen plant which will be powered by offshore wind energy.

The plant will be located in northern island of Hokkaido and is part of Japan’s initiative for decarbonisation. It is expected to be operational in 2024 with a capacity to generate 550 tonnes of hydrogen per year equivalent to fuel need of over 10,000 hydrogen-powered cars, according to a report.

The plan involves selling hydrogen in Hokkaido and exporting it to other parts of the nation via a transportation network that may include ports in Kobe and other locations across Japan. Hydrogen will be converted into energy and stored in batteries to power infrastructure including computer centres, cargo equipment in ports, and refrigerated warehouses.

Hokkaido Electric Power, renewable energy developer Green Power Investment, steel manufacturer Nippon Steel Engineering, and industrial gas provider Air Water are involved in the project.

Japan launched the green growth strategy in December 2020 aiming to lead the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and a positive cycle of economic growth and the environmental protection.

According to the plan, Japan aims to bring in 3 million tonnes of hydrogen production capacity by 2030, with the capacity increasing to about 20 million tonnes by 2050. Hydrogen prices are expected to be reduced to 30 yen per standard cubic metre, or less than a third of the current cost by 2020.

John Yeap of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “Green hydrogen presents an exciting future for the decarbonisation agenda.  Given Japan’s offshore wind potential, this project ticks many boxes for Japan’s net zero agenda. However, the project is not without significant challenges. These will include technical and design issues in relation to Japan’s offshore waters, as well as economic considerations with regards the eventual delivered cost of hydrogen. A robust policy framework for supporting green hydrogen that takes into account the cost and benefit to the nation will therefore be important to encourage the commercialisation of the potential of green hydrogen.”