The hydrogen economy is evolving in an isolated, Japan-specific way according to a new report from Lux Research. Japan leads all nations with 45 percent of the world’s share of hydrogen infrastructure, with Korean accounting for an additional 25 percent. The lack of global participation raises concerns about the rest of the world adopting hydrogen-based transportation.
“A few automakers led by Toyota are putting their money where their mouth is, but the rest of the value chain lags behind by orders of magnitude,” said Cosmin Laslau, Lux’s research director, who serves as the lead author of the report titled, “Innovating and Networking in Fuel Cells: Analyzing the Key Players in Today’s Hydrogen Infrastructure Value Chain.”
Japan’s “big three” lead in partnerships—with the strongest relationships formed between Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Toyota is not only at the central point of partnerships with other carmakers but also has alliances with heavy vehicles maker Hino, specialists like FirstElement Fuel, and industrial gas incumbents like Air Liquide.
Laslau expressed concern about a lack of support for hydrogen research and investment in the hydrogen value chain. “Fuel-cell firms received only $160 million from VCs and private equity in 2015, while the US Department of Energy awarded $100 million for R&D, and leading hydrogen firms spent a mere $70 million on R&D,” he said.
The Japanese and Korean companies promoting hydrogen fuel-cell cars are making the investment because they see the technology as one of the most viable long-term pathways for producing vehicles with zero emissions. But the technology’s vast potential might not be fully realized unless the rest of the world increases its share of development in a global movement toward cleaner transportation.