ITOCHU Announces the Building of a Local Hydrogen Production for Local Consumption Model Business in Northern Kyushu

February 24, 2021

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Yoshihisa Suzuki, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it has agreed to implement joint operationalization research on a hydrogen business based on the local production for local consumption model in northern Kyushu with Nippon Coke & Engineering Company, Limited (headquartered in Koto-ku, Tokyo; Kazuya Kage, President & Chief Executive Officer; hereinafter "Nippon Coke") and Compagnie Maritime Belge B.V. (headquartered in: Belgium Antwerp; Alexander Saverys, CEO; hereinafter, "CMB"), the largest maritime group in Belgium.
Featuring both the hydrogen byproduct of Nippon Coke and CMB’s hydrogen engine, this project creates both supply of and demand for hydrogen in northern Kyushu, with the goal of quickly building a supply chain based on the local production for local consumption model to aid in the realization of a carbon-free society.

In Japan's green growth strategies, hydrogen is seen as a key technology for achieving carbon neutrality. In the shipping industry in particular, the practical application of engines capable of directly burning hydrogen and ammonia is positioned as a pressing matter. Compared with other hydrogen power sources, hydrogen engines can generate high power and require extremely economical lifecycle cost. As such, it is expected to be adopted in society in the near future.

ITOCHU has handled primary energy for many years and has strong business relationships with steel mills and power utilities, which will be hydrogen consumers in the future.
Nippon Coke has an office in the Kitakyushu region, one of the biggest industrial areas in Japan. Although it is currently not separating hydrogen from the other byproduct gases generated in their cokes business, it has the ability to achieve a stable supply of hydrogen to meet demand in that area. In addition, CMB marks the 40th anniversary since the establishment of its Tokyo Branch this year and has built a deep business relationship with shipyards, merchants, and ship owners in Japan. The company has developed the world's first hydrogen mixed combustion engine for ships. Since 2017, it has performed trial ship operations in Europe. In April this year, it plans to start the commercial operation of passenger ships with the engine in the Setouchi area.

Going forward, the three companies will determine the demand for hydrogen in the northern Kyushu region through this operationalization research and obtain the necessary government approvals and licenses, and then work toward the launch of a hydrogen supply chain in FY2023.

By harnessing its networks in Japan and other countries, ITOCHU will move to quickly complete the project and deploy it in other regions. Additionally, based on the demand created in the local hydrogen production for local consumption model that is rooted in each region, the company will also aim to participate in large-scale hydrogen production projects in other countries. Through these activities, ITOCHU will steadily work to strengthen contributions and initiatives to achieve the SDGs — a basic policy in the next medium-term management plan.

  • *Source: The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s 2050 Carbon-Neutral Green Growth Policy

Position of This Project in the Realization of a Hydrogen Society

Map of Kitakyushu Coking Works, Nippon Coke & Engineering Company