Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More Japan firms linked to Oz hydrogen goal

More Japan firms linked to Oz hydrogen goal

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The Suiso Frontier, the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier, built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd, is docked in Chuo ward, Kobe, Japan on May 24. THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN

More Japan firms linked to Oz hydrogen goal

Large-scale, hydrogen energy-related projects involving Japanese companies are being implemented one after another in Australia.

Exports of coal and other fossil fuels has long supported the Australian economy, but in line with the global trend toward decarbonisation, the nation is pressing ahead to transition into a “hydrogen giant”.

For Japanese companies, this presents opportunities to make use of their technological prowess and other assets.

In the southeastern state of Victoria, a project to generate hydrogen from brown coal, a low-quality coal that contains many impurities, is underway. Among the many Japanese companies involved are Electric Power Development Co (J-Power), Iwatani Corp, Marubeni Corp and Sumitomo Corp. Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation and the Australian government are backing the project.

Brown coal is considered unsuitable for export because of fears of spontaneous combustion. But by converting it into a gaseous state through baking and adding steam, it produces high-purity hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 generated through the process will be stored underground in the future.

“We will be able to provide a stable supply of hydrogen without the external emission of CO2,” a J-Power public relations official emphasised.

The hydrogen produced from coal will be transported on the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier, the Suiso Frontier, built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. The ship is capable of transporting hydrogen that, by being cooled to minus 253 degrees Celsius and turned into a liquid, has a volume 1/800th of the original gas. It is scheduled to transport hydrogen from Australia to a storage facility in Kobe within fiscal 2021.

With Australian brown coal cheap and available in mass quantities, the process will produce hydrogen at a lower cost than can be done in Japan, even factoring in the additional expenditure for shipping.

Idemitsu Kosan Co, a major oil wholesaler, is aiming to develop a “Hydrogen Valley” in the southeastern Australian state of New South Wales, in conjunction with local companies and entities, that will serve as a base for the production and export of hydrogen.

According to the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro), as of this April, more than 10 Japanese companies are involved in hydrogen-related projects in Australia.

Itochu Corp has signed a memorandum of understanding with a local company to explore the commercial potential for generating hydrogen and ammonia from coal. Toyota Motor Corp has established a production and refuelling station for fuel cell-powered vehicles on the outskirts of Melbourne.

For Australia, fossil fuels such as coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) are the leading export goods propping up the country’s economy. But with decarbonisation emerging as the prevalent trend in recent years, concerns are floating about what lies ahead.

Hydrogen, which does not release CO2 at the time of combustion, is regarded as a next-generation fuel. Aiming to become a major hydrogen-supplying nation, Australia mapped out its “National Hydrogen Strategy” in November 2019. In it, the government advocated a policy aiming for A$10 billion (US$7.6 billion) of hydrogen exports in 2040.

“Low-cost clean hydrogen is where we have the potential to be a world leader,” Angus Taylor, Australia’s minister for energy and emissions reduction, told a press conference in April.

Australia has seen relations with China, its largest trading partner, deteriorate in recent years. Last year, China placed limits on imports of Australian coal, which will likely serve to further push Australia to transition from coal to hydrogen.

“Industries getting involved with hydrogen are wide-ranging,” said Hiromi Sumi, an official at Jetro’s office in Sydney. “There will surely be room for even small- and medium-sized companies to gain access as a new business.”

THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN (JAPAN)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Cambodia planning new border checkpoint at Thma Da

    Cambodia is looking into the possibility of opening a new Thma Da Border Checkpoint with Thailand to boost trade and tourism. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said on December 4 that Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol led a technical working group