Toshiba, Tohoku Electric and Iwatani consider developing hydrogen energy system

A joint proposal by Toshiba Corp., Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Iwatani Corp. on the development of technologies for hydrogen energy systems was today selected for funding by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

The project will see the partners investigating the configuration and specifications of a hydrogen energy system with the world’s largest hydrogen production system, and that encompasses all processes from hydrogen storage and liquefaction to transportation and utilization. The partners will examine the feasibility of the business over the next year and produce a report by September 2017.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s outlook ‘Long-term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook’ targets increasing the share of renewable energy in total power generation from 10.7% in 2013 to 22-24% by 2030. Since output from renewable energy sources is intermittent and fluctuates widely with the weather, the grid requires another compensatory power source. The hydrogen energy system is expected to provide a solution for grids with a high penetration of renewables, as it will be designed to convert renewable electricity into a large volume of hydrogen for long-term storage.

The project aims to study essential technologies for a hydrogen energy system that will play a key role in stabilizing grids and flattening output fluctuation. It will have a maximum capacity equivalent to 10,000 kW, and in operation it is expected to largely rely on renewable energy sources—solar photovoltaic and wind power. If it is found to be feasible, the system will be deployed in Fukushima prefecture in Tohoku, the northeastern region of Japan served by Tohoku Electric Power Co.

In addition to using hydrogen to offset grid loads, the system will also liquefy it for delivery to locations in Tohoku and beyond. Towards this, the project also aims to coordinate the overall operations of the hydrogen energy system, electricity grid control system and liquefied hydrogen demand forecast system with a new control system. This will optimize hydrogen production, hydrogen electricity generation and hydrogen gas supply.

Mr. Hiroyuki Ota, General Manager of Toshiba's Energy Systems & Solutions Company, noted: “Through this project, Toshiba will continue to provide comprehensive hydrogen solutions, encompassing all processes from the production to utilization of hydrogen. Our hydrogen solutions will help to improve energy efficiency in various situations and contribute to the realization of a carbon-free society where hydrogen energy is widely used.”

Mr. Mitsuhiro Matsumoto, Manager of Tohoku Electric Power Co., Ltd. said “We will study how to use hydrogen energy systems to stabilize electricity grids with the aim of increasing the use of renewable energy.”

Mr. Jun Miyazaki, General Manager of Iwatani Corporation said, “Iwatani considers that the development and demonstration of a hydrogen energy system through this project will contribute to the early establishment of a hydrogen economy. Drawing on our experience in the transportation, storage and supply of industrial hydrogen, and the construction and operation of hydrogen stations, we will play an active role in expanding the use of hydrogen energy.”

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