On a recent post, I mentioned that the Japanese are already installing fuel cells in homes, using natural gas that they reformulate into hydrogen.
Well, I have a little more specific information now that I have seen the Japanese Gas Association (JPA) Newsletter for October. JPA reports that their member gas utilities launched a residential fuel cell program in May 2009 under the brand name ENE-FARM. Gas utilities and other companies are purchasing fuel cells from manufacturers, and then selling the units to residential customers with subsidies to make this energy efficiency upgrade affordable.
As of July 22, 2009, Tokyo Gas bought 200 fuel cells, Osaka Gas took 500, Nippon Oil Corporation (ENEOS) took 500, Toho Gas took 100, and Saibu Gas bought 26 fuel cells. They each reported “good sales for the first year.” Leading Japanese housing manufacturers consider fuel cells as strategic products that can help distinguish their homes as environmentally sound and sophisticated.