Transition Analysis of Budgetary Allocation for Projects on Hydrogen-Related Technologies in Japan


Hydrogen technologies are promising candidates of new energy technologies for electric power load smoothing. However, regardless of long-term public investment, hydrogen economy has not been realized. In Japan, the National Research and Development Institute of New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a public research-funding agency, has invested more than 200 billion yen in the technical development of hydrogen-related technologies. However, hydrogen technologies such as fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) have not been disseminated yet. Continuous and strategic research and development (R&D) are needed, but there is a lack of expertise in this field. In this study, the transition of the budgetary allocations by NEDO were analyzed by classifying NEDO projects along the hydrogen supply chain and research stage. We found a different R&D focus in different periods. From 2004 to 2007, empirical research on fuel cells increased with the majority of research focusing on standardization. From 2008 to 2011, investment in basic research of fuel cells increased again, the research for verification of fuel cells continued, and no allocation for research on hydrogen production was confirmed. Thereafter, the investment trend did not change until around 2013, when practical application of household fuel cells (ENE-FARM) started selling in 2009, in terms of hydrogen supply chain. Hydrogen economy requires a different hydrogen supply infrastructure, that is, an existing infrastructure of city gas for ENE-FARM and a dedicated infrastructure for FCVs (e.g., hydrogen stations). We discussed the possibility that structural inertia could prevent the transition to investing more in hydrogen infrastructure from hydrogen utilization technology. This work has significant implications for designing national research projects to realize hydrogen economy.

Funding source: This research was financially supported by the following project: “Research on description and interpretation of evidence in policy process” (FY2016–FY2019) in the program of Science for Re-designing Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (SciREX), Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX) of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), and “Comprehensive scenario analysis for prospects and bottleneck of hydrogen energy in future energy system” (FY2016–FY2017) in the program of Advancement of Hydrogen Technologies and Utilization Project, New Energy, and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: Japan

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