Brunei-Japan begins construction for hydrogen demo plant

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Waqiuddin Rajak

A GROUNDBREAKING ceremony was held at the Sungai Liang Industrial Park (SPARK) yesterday, marking the start of the construction of a hydrogenation demonstration plant, a Brunei-Japan joint venture slated to be completed by September next year.

With Japan’s Advanced Hydrogen Energy Chain Association for Technology Development (AHEAD) leading the project, the plant is expected to yield 210 tonnes of liquefied hydrogen gas per year, once it became operational by 2020.

AHEAD is a consortium of major Japanese companies consisting o Chiyoda Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsui & Co Ltd; and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, formed specifically to handle Japan’s project to build the world’s first hydrogen supply chain.

Withholding the exact cost of the project, AHEAD’s President Hideki Endo told the media yesterday that the consortium is only planning to produce hydrogen for a year, starting from January to December 2020.

As it is a demonstration project, he explained that AHEAD would still need to evaluate the market for the liquefied hydrogen gases, before proceeding to supply them to the rest of the world.

He however noted that, with Japan promoting hydrogen gases as a source of energy and fuel, a research has been made and found that about 300,000 tonnes of liquefied hydrogen gases will be needed in 2030, and about 5-10 million tonnes will be needed by Japan in 2050.

He further explained that hydrogen gas, as an alternative source of energy and fuel, produces zero carbon emission compared to fossil fuel; making it environmentally friendly and ecologically safer to use in the long run.

“While hydrogen is a highly explosive chemical component, our (Japanese) technology is strong enough to (process) these gases to become less harmful; at most, it will only be flammable, a similar property to fossil fuels which is currently used by most people around the world,” he said.

“But realistically, since hydrogen gases are more expensive, we are not looking to replace the use of fossil fuels; but we figure that some people in the other parts of the world will use them for their environmentally-friendly properties,” he added.

The president shared that AHEAD has initiated talks with Brunei’s Energy and Industry Department on how Brunei can utilise hydrogen in its transportation and power generation systems.

But such discussion, he added, is only at its early stages, with many more to come as AHEAD continued with its project to build the world’s first hydrogen supply chain.

“There are also some reasons why we have chosen Brunei to build this plant; amongst them is because the country is very close to Japan and there are many natural resources we can utilise,” he said.

“Since this is a very small project for us, we are not really looking at a big number for our manpower; but we have engaged several locals to join us, and we are going to hire more subject to our discussion on this project,” he added.

Attending the event as the guest of honour was the Deputy Minister of Energy and Industry, Dato Paduka Matsatejo Sokiaw.

Major figures of the consortium, Japanese Ambassador to Brunei Motohiko Kato and Japan’s representative from its Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Masayoshi Yamakage were also amongst those who attended the groundbreaking event.

The Bruneian