The typhoon sweeping over Kyushu did not bother the over a 130 interested businesses and government officials attending a Conference on Commercial Ready Hydrogen Refueling Stations, co organized by Fukuoka prefecture on Novmeber 19.   Although Ikorou Hirozane, director general of the Kyushu Bureau of Economy Trade and Industry of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, who opened the conference,  indicated that Japanese excessive cost resulting from even more excessive regulation still hampered a faster pace,  he referred to the ministry’s 50% co financing of the 19 stations that are currently being built and confirmed future support for the 100 stations foreseen by  2015.

Hideya Sakyu, deputy director Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Promotion office Technology of the Agency for Natural Resources Office indicated  the announcement on January 12, 2011 of 13 Japanese companies to introduce FCEV on Japanese market in 2015 and to build 100 stations as a response to Germany’s steps in the same direction the year before.

On June 14 of this year the Japan Revitalisation strategy included a  reference to the 100 stations; A total budget of of 4.9 bln yen is in place for the first 19 stations that have been built  around Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Osaka. 20 -30 % cost reduction is expected as HRS stations will be rolling out in the coming two years.

On the stationary level, 1 kW fuel cells’ cost have been reduced from 3,5 mln yen in 2009 to 2 mln yen today, thanks to the “enefarm” project, mimicked by the enefield project in Europe . Forklift trucks have been demonstrated mainly in Kyushu, but no units have been sold so far. Kawasaki Industries has been working on hydorgen enrichment of natural gas through coal gasification, an H2 production pathways that is proposed for the near term H2 demand.

Sunita Satyapal, director of the US Fuel Cell Technology program referred to the US Patent developments of over 1000 FC and H2 patents per year over the last 3 years. Fuel cell markets are showing continued growth as well; she mentioed the over 20.000 units that were shipped from Japan.  $ 100 bln. cost reduction of 80% . The US program of 25 stations and 180 FCEV was just finalized. The US Recovery Act included further support. US will also focus on H2 production from gas in the near term to reduce costs to $2-4 / gge (gallon gasoline equivalent).  She also referred to the US  developments in tri-generation of hydrogen through links with waste treatment. she confirmed that also in the US challenges remain indeed with regards to the time that is needed for the approval of stations. A database ( is tracking safety related issues: for example operator protocol instructions. A mobile app for code officials was developed with hydrogen information.

Marisa Atienza and Johan Blondelle of the EU Commission’s Research and Innovation directorate presented the EC efforts to include H2 and FC  policy support measures and the progress in H2 consumption reduction in FCH JU FC bus demostrations. They also referrreed to the

A full session was dedicated to learning experiences and social acceptance:

– The Californian Fuel Cell partnership presented its activities in engaging authorisation officials through mobile apps and regular webinars referring to the special position of authorization officials in their communities; they usually also live in the area themselves and are confronted directly with citizens concerns.

– Tetsufumi Ikeda of the of the Japanese Research association of hydrogen supply /utilization, HySUT explained the awareness activities in Japan: a video to complement the FCEV market introduction was shown that implied in almost tomorrw reality of hydrogen transport in Japan.

A session with presentations on commercial hydrogen stations development included efforts of JX Nippon Oil and Energy Corporation to reduce the size of the stations and Air Liquide’s VP of Advanced Technologies Pierre Etienne Franc emphasized agian the regulatory and cost issues that makes it hard even for one the oldest foreign companies in Japan (AL is in Japna since the first year ofthe last century) to build a HRS business case.

The conference demostrated the eagerness of suppliers to serve the first commercial models that national car OEM flagships, Toyota and Honda will be presenting at the Tokyo Motor Show that takes off on November 22. The commitment of stakeholders in Fukuoka demonstrated that even cost and regulatory barriers do not seem to be show-stoppers yet in further market deployment in Japan. The EHA is attending the IPHE 20th meeting in Fukuoka, as vice chair of the IPHE Educational Working Group.