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Saturday, February 3, 2018

DAY 6: My Final Day in Japan

The final Energy Week session I attended featured speakers on the Honda fuel cell program and the future grid system.  I have long wondered why both Toyota (Mirai) and Honda (Clarity) were so bullish on fuel cells.  A couple of days ago I talked to a Toyota representative, and he seemed confident about what they were doing.

I asked the Honda presenter, Takashi Moriya, the same kinds of questions, and got some further details, although I'm not sure about the accuracy, because of the language barrier:
  • Both Toyota and Honda are losing money on each car sale, plus they are subsidizing the cost of the hydrogen.
  • They hope that a break-even point will be reached by 2025.
  • Expected profits will not reach any kind of optimum until past 2030.
In follow-up discussions with attendees, I left them with the following thoughts:
  • I can now better understand why Japanese car manufacturers are pushing the fuel cell vehicle (FCV--and note that a fuel cell vehicle run on hydrogen is also an electric car).
    • Higher efficiency relative to batteries and the internal combustion engine.
    • Cleaner energy (hydrogen is produced from renewable energy).
    • Taking the very long-term view of FCVs replacing battery-powered transport.
    • As a bridge to the future, a fuel cell could replace the internal combustion engine for hybrid cars.
    • Industrial applications, such as for fork lifts, will also be part of the bridging strategy.
  • I came away impressed that the hydrogen economy appears to be not as far away as I had thought.
  • I did, though, try to interest Japan in beginning R&D now for the longer term:  next generation aviation and the Blue Revolution, for Japan will not be able to attain 100% clean energy self-sufficiency unless they find a solution for air travel and better utilize the ocean.
  • But they must start now, for it was nearly 40 years ago that I drafted the original hydrogen legislation in the U.S. Senate, and we remain many, many decades away to large scale commercialization.
  • As a beginning, they should read my co-authored paper in the Japan Journal of Hydrogen Energy Systems, written 15 years ago:  
  • Also, my Huffington Post article entitled

I noticed walking on the Ito Campus a number of wind lens turbines being developed.  Interesting concept because power increases with the cube of the velocity:


We caught the subway back to our hotel, and I noticed that Jean and I were the only two not using our smart phones:


On the way back to our hotel, Tatyana had something else to do, and I did not want to have fugu again:


Jean selected a traditional izakaya, where they cook foodstuffs on a stick over a barbecue grill:


The person sitting next to us said he comes here once a week, and poured us some sochu from his bottle:


We really had too much to eat and drink, but the ambience and cuisine were just perfect to end our stay in Japan.

My final breakfast at the Washington Hotel was again huge:


I walked around, and below my room at Canal City is a fountain:


Kyushu University gave me a coupon to catch a taxi to the airport, which, actually is only two subway stops away.  The JAL domestic lounge was quiet:


I caught Jet Star to Narita, and the JAL Sakura Lounge was packed, but the food was good:


My next posting will be from Honolulu.
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