Japan Launches Hydropower Demonstration Project

Spotlight Activity: Japan Launches Hydropower Demonstration Project

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation (Toshiba ESS) started a demonstration project in partnership with Iwatani Corporation (Iwatani) in Kushiro city, Hokkaido Prefecture. The project established a hydrogen production facility using hydrogen produced from a small hydropower plant and established a hydrogen utilization model suitable for the local characteristics of Hokkaido.

This project is proceeding as a result of a proposal submitted to the Ministry of the Environment (MoE), Japan under the Ministry’s “Low-Carbon Hydrogen Supply Chain Demonstration Project.” This proposal was made under the government’s vast strategy of ‘hydrogen society’, which is the one of key components to achieve Japanese NDC of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by fiscal year (FY) 2030 compared to FY 2013.

The small hydropower plant is located at the Shoro Dam in Shiranuka town on Hokkaido’s Pacific coast. Electricity from the dam will be used to electrolyze water and separate hydrogen at the hydrogen production facility made by Toshiba ESS, which produces about 35Nm3 of hydrogen every hour.

The hydrogen will be transported by Iwatani and used to generate electricity with Toshiba ESS’s pure hydrogen fuel cell systems installed at dairy farms and indoor swimming pools in Shiranuka’ It also will be used as fuel for fuel cell-powered vehicles at Toyota Motor Corporation’s Shibetsu proving ground.

Hydrogen is seen as an important energy resource for mitigating global warming, as it doesn’t emit carbon dioxide when burned, and can be used to transport & store energy made from renewables.


Status: Moving Forward

Japan has been criticized by the international community for its unwillingness to foster actions to mitigate climate change (e.g. unambitious energy plan, construction plans of new coal-fired plants both in Japan and foreign countries).

This demonstration project, if successful, could mean progress for Japan’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and comply with the Paris Agreement. It reflects the government’s strategy to build a “Hydrogen country,” as put forward by PM Shizo Abe and METI. However, this project is still at ‘the beginning of the beginning’ for realizing hydrogen society, and there will be several obstacles (e.g. cost effectiveness, safety) in the future. For these reasons, we rated this with 3 stars.

Take Action

Please send the following message to the policymaker below:

Dear Mr. Nakagawa, MInister of Environment of Japan,

It is a huge progress that Toshiba ESS started a demonstration project of hydrogen power generation and its usage at local utilities in Hokkaido. Further efforts to realize hydrogen society are crucial because they can lead to expansion of the usage of renewable energy and thus decarbonization of the economy.

We strongly suggest the involvement of multi sectoral actors; municipalities, ministries and companies in helping to achieve the goal of a hydrogen society.

Minister of Environment Japan, Masaharu Nakagawa


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