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Energy

Japan's first commercial hydrogen power plant to open near Mount Fuji

Independent utility eRex plans to generate electricity for around 100 households

Hydrogen is expected to be the next-generation power source globally. The Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain coal-to-hydrogen plant in Australia, pictured here in March.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Independent power supplier eRex will build Japan's first commercial hydrogen power plant next year to initially supply zero-emission electricity to around 100 households, Nikkei has learned.

The eRex hydrogen plant that will be built in the Yamanashi Prefecture town of Fujiyoshida in the shadow of Mount Fuji will produce about 360 kilowatts of electricity. The Tokyo-based company has already applied for a power transmission and distribution connection to Tepco Power Grid, the transmission unit of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings.

Corporate users of clean energy are also a target market for eRex, which will use a gas engine that can generate electricity from synthesis gas that has hydrogen as the main component.

According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the plant will be Japan's first commercial power plant to run on hydrogen. It is slated to begin operation by March 2022.

It will buy hydrogen from Tokyo-based startup Hydrogen Technology, which produces the gas without any carbon emissions. 

Although Hydrogen Technology's production cost is about 784 yen ($7.25) per kilogram, it plans to sell the gas to eRex at a loss that it believes would be mostly offset by volume sales.

In the future, eRex aims to build a large-scale power plant that can produce about 50,000 to 100,000 kilowatts of electricity, which will bring down power generation costs from about 58 yen per kilowatt-hour to 17 yen or lower. Hitoshi Honna, eRex's president, told Nikkei: "We want to reduce costs by 2024."

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