Japan is the world-wide leading country in developing and deploying Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration. As a highly industrialised country consuming large amounts of energy and possessing few natural resources, Japan is diversifying its energy system and increasing its efficiency. These efforts were intensified following the Fukushima disaster. The development of hydrogen as an energy resource is high on the country’s agenda. The use of hydrogen in Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration is a logical choice to maximise efficiencies. The PACE project had the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Tomohide Satomi, Deputy Director-General at the Fuel Cell Commercialization Conference of Japan. In Europe, there are many lessons to be taken from the ENE-FARM project, the Japanese government funded initiative to develop and install Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration:

  • Q: How many fuel cell micro-cogeneration units have already been installed in Japan?

Japan has installed around 270,000 active units as of 2018. Over 235,000 of these active unites have been installed under the ENE-FARM programme.

  • Q: Why did the Japanese government decide to support the commercialisation of the fuel cell micro-cogeneration technology?

A demonstration project which took place between 2005 and 2008, had installed 3,000 Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration units in Japan. One of the main conclusions of the project was that an average Japanese household could prevent 1.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year with a Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration unit. The government understood that large scale implementation of this technology could help the country achieve CO2 reduction goals.

  • Q: Which factor made Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration such a success in Japan?

There was extensive cooperation between the Japanese government and the Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration industry. The project has had 9 years of steady financial support by our government. The impressive technological development of high-quality units has also helped in this process.

  • Q: What does this mean in terms of CO2 emission reductions for Japan?

It means that Japan is currently saving 324,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. With every Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration unit installed, the amount of prevented CO2 emissions grows.

  • Q: What are the latest trends in the Japanese Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration sector?

Annual sales volumes amount currently to 40,000 units. As the technology has reached maturity, government subsidies under the ENE-FARM project will stop by the end of March 2019.

  • Q: How is Japan moving towards a hydrogen-based economy?

Our first priority is to support the roll-out of fuel cell vehicles (FCV). The target is to have 800,000 FCV’s on the road by 2030, fuelled by 720 hydrogen refuelling stations across the country. The next step should be to supply stationary applications directly with hydrogen.

  • Q: How do you see the future of fuel cell micro-cogeneration in Japan?

Cost reduction of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration units is still our priority for further implementation. Our aim is to have 5.3 million installations by 2025.