BBC 6 DECEMBER 2021 - Climate change: Is ‘blue hydrogen’ Japan’s answer to coal?
It's a glorious autumn afternoon and I'm standing on a hillside looking out over Tokyo Bay. Beside me is Takao Saiki, a usually mild-mannered gentleman in his 70s.
But today Saiki-San is angry.
"It's a total joke," he says, in perfect English. "Just ridiculous!"
The cause of his distress is a giant construction site blocking our view across the bay - a 1.3-gigawatt coal-fired power station in the making.
"I don't understand why we still have to burn coal to generate electricity," says Saiki-San's friend, Rikuro Suzuki. "This plant alone will emit more than seven million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year!"
Suzuki-San's point is a good one. Shouldn't Japan be cutting its coal consumption, not increasing it, at a time of great concern about coal's impact on the climate?
So why the coal? The answer is the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
In 2010 about one third of Japan's electricity came from nuclear
power, and there were plans to build a lot more. But then the 2011 disaster hit, and all Japan's nuclear power plants were shut down. Ten years later most remain closed - and there is a lot of resistance to restarting them.
In their place Japan's gas-fired power stations have been doing a lot of overtime. But, as Britain has found out recently, natural gas is expensive.
So, the Japanese government decided to build 22 new coal-fired power stations, to run on cheap coal imported from Australia. Economically it made sense. Environmentally, not so much. Japan is now under intense pressure to stop using coal.
Instead of closing the old coal plants and switching to renewables, Japan's answer is to switch to burning hydrogen or
"The investment made by electric power companies in coal-fired power plants would suddenly be useless without value in their balance sheet," says Prof Tomas Kaberger, an expert on energy policy at Chalmers University in Sweden.
"And it would create financial difficulties for electric power companies and then for banks and pension funds. And that is the challenge for Japan."
The plants can be quite easily converted to burning hydrogen or ammonia, neither of which produce any carbon dioxide. So this seems like a good solution.
But Japan's government has much bigger ambitions than that. It wants to be the world's first "hydrogen economy".
This is where the carmaker Toyota comes in.
It's another lovely sunny day and I'm in downtown Tokyo, at a shiny new hydrogen filling station. Standing on the forecourt is a sleek new Toyota Mirai. This is a big luxury car, about the size of a large Lexus.
I slip into the leather-clad cabin, press the "start" button and glide out on to the street. The car is extremely smooth, completely silent, and the only thing dribbling on to the road behind me is a bit of water.
The Mirai (which means future in Japanese) is Toyota's first zero-emissions electric car. Unlike other electric cars, the Mirai doesn't have a huge battery under the floor. Instead, it has a fuel cell under the bonnet, and hydrogen tanks under the back seat. The hydrogen is passed through the
cell, where it's converted to electricity, which runs the electric motors. It's the same technology that was used to power the Apollo spacecraft on the Moon missions.
[Hydrogen (LH2) and Oxygen (LOX) for
rocket motors, so not quite the same, but we get what he means]
To many people this technology is an odd choice. It's more expensive and complicated than
Elon Musk has called hydrogen cars "stupid".
Not true, says Hisashi Nakai, the head of Toyota's public affairs division. He says the company's vision for
fuel cells goes much further than just cars.
"I know people have different opinions," he tells me, "but the important thing is realising carbon neutrality. We need to think about how we can make the most out of fuel cell technology. We strongly believe in hydrogen as a powerful and important energy."
What Nakai-san says shows
Toyota is thinking of a future where hydrogen fuel cells are everywhere, in homes and offices and factories, as well as cars. And it wants to be at the forefront of this new hydrogen society.
This brings us to the final, and most important question. Where is the hydrogen to power Japan
zero carbon society going to come from?
The answer is "blue
Make hydrogen from water using
renewable energy and you get
hydrogen". The problem is green hydrogen is really expensive.
Instead, today most hydrogen is made from natural gas, or even coal. That is cheap but it produces lots of greenhouse gases. However, if you capture those greenhouse gases and bury them in the ground, you are allowed to call it "blue hydrogen".
This is exactly what Japan says it is going to do.
Earlier this year, Japan and Australia opened a joint project in the state of Victoria to turn a type of coal called lignite, or brown coal, into hydrogen. The hydrogen is then
liquified to minus 253C, then piped into a specially built
ship which carries it to Japan.
rules for such ships, only guidelines
What happens to the greenhouse gases produced at the site? Right now, they go straight up into the atmosphere. But Japan and Australia are
promising that, at some point in the future, they will begin capturing the greenhouse gas produced at the Latrobe Valley site and inject it into the
sea floor off the coast.
Climate change campaigners are horrified by this plan. They say the technology to capture and store greenhouse gases is unproven and it will lock Japan into digging up vast quantities of
brown coal for decades to come.
According to Prof Kaberger, the biggest hole in the plan is economic.
"Technically it's possible, but it will always be expensive," he says. "Using fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage will always be more expensive than using fossil fuels alone, and now in many parts of the world renewable
electricity is already cheaper than fossil fuels without carbon capture."
Prof Kaberger thinks the Japanese government chose blue hydrogen a decade ago when renewables were expensive, and they are now locked into a plan that no longer makes sense.
"Japanese companies need cheap electricity to be competitive and they need clean electricity to be internationally acceptable," he says. "That means they need renewable
electricity. Delaying this development will harm the Japanese
In the meantime, on the edge of Tokyo Bay, construction continues apace. The giant new coal-fired power station will go online in 2023. It is expected to run for at least 40 years.
"I am ashamed of Japan," says Hikari Matsumoto, a 21-year-old activist who has joined us to look out from the hillside.
"I'm so frustrated," she says. "In other countries young people are out on the street protesting, but Japanese people are so quiet. Our generation needs to voice its opinion."
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
that thumb their noses at climate
change, such as to increase
harmful pollution, might have to face criminal prosecution via
the International Criminal Court, and the tenets of the Rome
Statute of 1998. Whereby it is a criminal offence to cause hurt
to another human, from your actions or failure to act to prevent
harm, including Geographical Genocide (Island
flooding and desert
displacement), by action or inaction.
physical size and geographical location cannot supply sufficient
renewable energy for their industrial objectives, meaning they
have to import fuel. In a world where neighbours help each other
to achieve equilibrium, there are countries more than willing to
supply green hydrogen, such as Norway.
for Japan is that a number of their manufacturers, including
Honda and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, are championing hydrogen
vehicles and vessels, under their Basic Hydrogen Strategy from
2017 and long before. Why then would they undo all that hard
work with coal generating stations is amazing, presumably to
counter Chinese and Indian ambitions on the coal front, that
effectively makes Japan less competitive on the world stage. In
our view this is less than honourable and simply Japan reacting
to COP-OUT climate criminals. Where it is the whole world that
should be pulling in their belts, as one, united against the
common enemy of global
Japan is a highly industrialized country with a severe lack of hydrocarbon resources that sees multiple values in using hydrogen, including energy security, industrial competitiveness, and carbon emissions reduction. In 2017, Japan issued the Basic Hydrogen Strategy, becoming the first country to adopt a national hydrogen framework.
prime minister Fumio Kishida is charged with failing to
protect life on
earth, as crimes against humanity and our ecology. On a more
positive note, many of Japan's car makers have invested in fuel
cell and hydrogen technology. The country has been looking at
importing bulk hydrogen via tankers.
given a bit more support from other world leaders, we might reasonably
expect advances. But they cannot do it alone.
2nd November 2021 — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is heading to the U.N. climate summit saying his country will push strongly for emissions reductions.
Talking to reporters before leaving for Glasgow on Tuesday, he said: “I hope to show to the international community Japan’s strong determination to achieve carbon neutrality (at home) by 2050 and realize zero emissions across Asia.”
The overseas trip is Kishida’s first since he took office a month ago.
Kishida is expected to outline Japan’s emissions reduction effort in his speech at the summit. Tokyo announced in April a target of 46% reduction by 2030 from fiscal 2013 levels to achieve
zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Kishida is also expected to hold talks with British Prime Minister
Boris Johnson and a few other leaders during his several-hour visit.
His trip comes just after a key parliamentary election in which his governing party and its coalition partner secured leadership.
wishes of the people are clear, clean up your countries, to save
von der Leyen
Mohammed bin Salman
abusers will say they had no choice. They needed to keep
burning coal, gas
and oil for their economies - just like the camp guards at the
many concentration camps, they were forced into business as
usual. In the case of the camp guards, they argued they were
just following orders. But that is not true. We all have
choices. There are clean alternatives, such as solar
power. There is no need to keep building coal
generating stations, and no need to drive carcinogenic petrol
or diesel vehicles that contribute
cancer. We have hydrogen
you are going to increase electricity capacity, it makes sense
to invest in renewable
energy, unless it is that the fossil
fuel giants are lubricating the works with party donations.
If that is the case, we say that such contributions should be
transparently declared, that the public is informed as to what
is guiding policy decisions.
Hitler and chum Heinrich Himmler [Allegedly,
Adolf Hitler did not die in that bunker incident C.1949.
Apparently, he was fired into England, strapped to a V1 rocket, leaving
behind his false teeth. He parachuted into Wealden that night
hoping to meet some deviants, who'd arranged a new identity for their
fallen comrade. Apparently, he landed in Crowborough,
in East Sussex, England, shaved off
his moustache and was mistaken for a council official, whereupon he
infiltrated the ranks of the local authority and trained them how to use his
terror tactics to control the peasant civilians. "Ve ist der master
race, unt ve vill enslave the council tax payers."
the dirtiest, but in the top five ... but pretty stinky in the
short term, hoping for good things in the long run ... as soon
as they crunch the numbers - and then take into account the
morals, let alone the potential for criminal charges.
Reich Minister Propaganda
Nazi war criminal
is a person who kills an unarmed human being or
gives the order to kill another human being outside the normal
rules of engagement in times of war.
In peacetime, a
Climate Change Criminal, is a politician,
industrialist or other entity that conducts
themselves and/or their policies such as to (in effect) murder
another human being from starvation or poisoning resulting from
action or inaction on their part, and including dumping plastic in
the sea to make fish
philosophy extends to causing hardship and mental stress
(torture), contrary to
Articles 2 and 3 of the EU's Human Rights Convention and Articles
3 and 5
of the Universal Declaration of Human
concentration 'death camp' executions