Asahi Kasei takes fight to Germany's Siemens with 'green hydrogen'
Japanese chemical group to power production with renewables
TOKYO -- Asahi Kasei will begin selling "green hydrogen" produced using renewable energy sources such as wind, as the Japanese chemical company plays catch-up with German leader Siemens.
The company aims to take its first order for industrial hydrogen in Germany this fiscal year following successful mass production at its Yokohama testing plant, where operations have topped 9,500 hours since the facility came online in 2015.
The production process splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity generated without emitting carbon dioxide, hence the "green" in the name.
Asahi Kasei applied its technology for separators, a main component in lithium-ion batteries, to the hydrogen plant, which the company says has a world-class 90% efficiency. The equipment can produce 2,000 cu. meters of hydrogen per hour with 10 megawatts of electricity, excluding factors such as temperature and pressure changes. A day's operation would generate 48 years' worth of power for a fuel-cell car.
Germany plans to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022, replacing them with renewable energy sources such as wind. But in some cases, electricity generated from renewables goes to waste due to an oversupply in the grid. Asahi Kasei eyes using this excess power to make hydrogen, which the company plans to supply to oil refineries and other plants. Hydrogen is used to remove sulfur when refining gasoline from crude oil. Using "green hydrogen" would help reduce refineries' carbon footprint.
Asahi Kasei plans to capitalize on Germany's plan to install 1,000MW of power-to-gas capacity by 2022. Though Siemens leads Asahi Kasei in commercializing hydrogen production systems, the Japanese company plans 10MW worth of capacity, one of the world's biggest amounts. Asahi Kasei will be the first Japanese supplier to enter this field in Europe.