Kawasaki Heavy joins ‘hydrogen economy’ project


Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. will join with partners to set up a hub for imported liquefied hydrogen in western Japan in a government pilot project to develop offloading and storage systems in anticipation of wider hydrogen use.

Kawasaki Heavy, Iwatani Corp. and the Kobe Municipal Government are working together, targeting 2020 as the date to open the hub on a man-made island near Kobe Airport, Kawasaki Heavy spokesman Sou Suzuki said Tuesday.

The move comes as the government is promoting creation of a “hydrogen-based society” in which fuel cells will power cars, homes and office buildings.

The partners plan to import hydrogen from Australia where Electric Power Development Co., a Japanese power company, is looking to develop technologies to produce hydrogen from lignite, according to Suzuki.

The Nikkei financial newspaper reported that the total project cost for the hub will exceed ¥10 billion. Suzuki declined to comment on the cost, saying the project is supported by the government.

Whether the hub will become a commercial terminal after the pilot project hasn’t been decided, he added.

The project is part of a study conducted by Kawasaki Heavy, Iwatani and Electric Power Development. The three companies were picked last year by the trade ministry-affiliated New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization to study how to set up a supply chain for sea transport of hydrogen produced from lignite.

Kawasaki Heavy is also developing technologies for ships that can carry as much as 2,500 cubic meters of liquefied hydrogen, Suzuki said.