A critical review of Japan’s potential to demand hydrogen: Anticipation of regional markets in a changing economy

Hydrogen energy: Developing a better understanding and anticipation of Japan’s demand for an emerging Australian export

Project Duration: July 2020 – March 2022

CSIRO Researchers working on the hydrogen membrane at the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies (QCAT) (Credit: CSIRO/John Nguyen)

Anticipating demand for an emerging hydrogen energy system

The Challenge

Science-based innovation is key for responding to global challenges such as a changing climate. At the same time, there needs to be a market and demand for the outcomes of innovation to have a sustainable and responsible presence in society.

This project is concerned with how we understand and anticipate potential demand for innovative processes or technology.

CSIRO’s research will consider the growing demand for hydrogen energy systems, as these systems are being developed in a global energy transition process that is moving toward low carbon systems. In particular, this research will focus on developing social science to better understand and anticipate, the markets within Japan. These markets could drive demand for Australia’s emerging hydrogen energy exports, in what is a changing energy economy both within Japan and globally.

Responding to the Challenge

Early in the development of a new technology, high-level estimates are made of the potential for the technology’s demand. This has been the case for Japan’s demand for hydrogen energy. As demonstration of the technology increases, CSIRO seeks to extend its existing understanding of Japan’s energy market by identifying and analysing geographic and societal factors that have an impact on Japan’s growing hydrogen demand. Understanding the difference between these factors, will help Australia better anticipate Japan’s demand on its hydrogen exports.  These differences may include: regional variation in existing energy sources, prices, capacity and implications for energy transitioning; leading energy consuming industries; and socio-economic and acceptance characteristics of private consumers.

The project will review different materials, which would include existing estimates of Japanese hydrogen demand and Australia’s capacity to supply it, and growth scenarios for Japan’s regions. It will also include analysis of publicly available data from diverse sources to better understand the energy needs and socio-economic characteristics of consumers across Japan.

The resulting research paper will characterise the potential regional markets – and consumers – of the hydrogen demand being proposed by Japan’s national energy policy. Demand that is, at least in part, driving investment in Australia’s emerging hydrogen export industry.

Project Impacts

Characterising Japan’s nuanced energy market and consumers, to better understand the influence they may have on hydrogen demand in Japan, may assist Australia better anticipate and plan for future export demands on its hydrogen energy.

This knowledge has potential to assist governments, businesses and communicators to be more attuned to the different markets for hydrogen within Japan. It can also support Australia’s hydrogen industries to identify and manage their social responsibility when developing trade relationships with Japan – informed by insights that extend beyond ‘petajoule’ demand. Finally, the research can increase interest in the profiling of potential markets and consumers of innovation, which may help inform responsible governance of future innovation and technology change.


CSIRO: Simone Felton, Lavinia Poruschi and David Fleming (Project Leader)

Additional information on CSIRO’s hydrogen energy research is available as follows:

CSIRO Hydrogen Future Science Platform: https://research.csiro.au/hydrogenfsp/

CSIRO ECOS Article, Hydrogen’s role in decarbonisation: ensuring a responsible transition: https://ecos.csiro.au/hydrogens-role-in-decarbonisation-ensuring-a-responsible-transition/

CSIRO Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform News Release Partnering to maximise co-benefits of new hydrogen energy projects https://research.csiro.au/ri/partnering-to-maximise-co-benefits-of-new-hydrogen-energy-projects/

Related Projects

CSIRO research project Social science for a Hydrogen energy future: https://research.csiro.au/hydrogenfsp/social-science-for-a-hydrogen-energy-future/