New hydrogen fuel cell set for launch in Japan

October 24, 2013 0 By Bret Williams

Joint development venture aims to produce new hydrogen fuel cell system

The Tokyo Gas Company and Panasonic Corporation have announced a joint development project concerning the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell designed to power an entire apartment block. This fuel cell will be deployed under the ENE-FARM brand, which is currently one of the largest fuel cell networks in the world. The ENE-FARM uses hydrogen fuel cells to provide electrical power to cities, but it also manufactures and deploys fuel cells throughout Japan for various purposes. The new fuel cell developed through the joint initiative is expected to be sold throughout Japan beginning in April of 2014.

Hydrogen continues to gain momentum in Japan

Japan has become a strong advocate of renewable energy, especially when it comes to hydrogen fuel and solar power. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster of 2011, much of the country’s nuclear power facilities were shut down due to safety concerns. The ENE-FARM helped keep large cities supplied with power through its fuel cell network and Japan has adopted an aggressive feed-in tariff that helps support the growth of its domestic solar energy industry.

Japan Hydrogen Fuel InfrastructureFuel cell modified to comply with apartment building standards

The new fuel cell features a modified design when compared to its more conventional counterparts. The fuel cell unit has been made smaller so as to comply with the building regulations concerning apartment blocks. The model has been made more stable so as to be resistant to earthquakes and a new exhaust structure has been developed to make the fuel cell resistant to strong winds. The fuel cell is expected to reduce energy consumption in apartment blocks by approximately 37%.

Fuel cells are not yet considered mainstream

The Tokyo Gas Company aims to sell some 500 of these hydrogen fuel cells in the fiscal year of 2015. The company suggests that these hydrogen fuel cells are a more efficient way to power apartments and can produce enough heat to meet consumer needs adequately. Whether thesehydrogen fuel cells manage to find success has yet to be seen, of course. While Japan has become quite supportive of fuel cells in recent years, the energy systems are still far from being considered mainstream.