Toyota Mirai and Hydrogen Vehicles

On the 15th January 2015 Toyota presented the world’s first Mirai fuel cell vehicle to the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. The Prime Minister heralded the moment “the dawn of the age of hydrogen”, and, with Mirai meaning “future” in Japanese, Toyota themselves certainly believe their FCV to be ground breaking.  They even predict its success being comparable to that of the Prius (Hybrid electric engine), which is now the top selling car in the US state of California.
The technology of the Mirai is the culmination of over 20 years of research and development. Toyota have succeeded in creating an engine that produces no emission other than water and unlike electric vehicles, which can only run 75 miles and then need significant recharging time, the Mirai can run 300 miles and, with the right infrastructure, can be refilled quickly.
Interest in fuel cell vehicles is spreading through the motor industry. Honda was due to begin sales of their first FCV in 2016, Hyundai have already started leasing a fuel cell version of their Tuscan SUV in California, and Ford, Daimler, Renault and Nissan are working to develop a joint fuel cell project. These high levels of investment demonstrate that the major car manufacturers recognise the potential benefits of FCVs over electric. The potential to expand the engine to power trucks and larger vehicles is another important benefit they recognise over electric vehicles.
However currently there are many obstacles to the widespread use of FCVs, the first being the cost of producing the car. In Japan currently the Mirai is being sold for £44,000 while in the US it is predicted it will be sold for around £66,000. At these prices, which include a certain amount of government subsidy, Toyota is still making a loss. However the cost would reduce should production volumes increase, currently Toyota only plan to release 700 globally.
Furthermore, a major issue to the long term success of FCVs is the cost of infrastructure development that would be needed to support the use of hydrogen cars. While Toyota predict the success of the Mirai to potentially be comparable to that of the Prius, the Prius used existing infrastructure. Predictions state that implementing the infrastructure for FCVs to be viable would cost many billions, or even trillions, of dollars. Raising the finance for this investment would be very difficult without government backing, as the chicken and egg situation surrounding hydrogen development means few will be willing to invest when there are very few FCVs on the roads. Even Toyota acknowledge that the launch of the Mirai will be in baby steps and it will take decades to embed the infrastructure required; Satoshi Osigo, the Managing Officer of Toyota, states that FCVs “are for the coming decades”.
The green credentials of FCVs are dependent on the methods of production of hydrogen. While Hydrogen is the most abundant element on earth, only tiny concentrations are found in the atmosphere. Current methods of extraction of hydrogen are expensive and inefficient, therefore the most important, and often overlooked issue holding back FCVs is finding a way to sustainably produce the hydrogen fuel they require. The most common method currently used is steam reforming of methane, which uses non-renewable resources and produces significant quantities of carbon dioxide. An alternative is the gasification of biomass where the net production of carbon dioxide is very dependent on the source of the biomass. While electrolysis of water, requires electricity, which is largely sourced from non-renewables and produces high levels of carbon dioxide. If hydrogen is produced at times of low levels of electricity demand, existing infrastructure could be used to create the electricity needed. However, while FCVs produce no carbon dioxide emissions themselves, in the current environment significant carbon dioxide will be released in producing the hydrogen fuel.
However, in natural-resource-scarce Japan politicians are pushing for a “hydrogen society”, they are looking to develop the infrastructure to allow hydrogen to power homes and offices, meaning widespread FCVs could be viable. The Japanese government is already investing billions in hydrogen development and is also offering huge financial incentives, they may even give away a few Toyota Mirai’s to get the ball rolling. The Mirai is an exciting development, and while there are many obstacles preventing FCVs from becoming widespread, it will be interesting to see how successful Japan is in leading the way.

Course List

Energy and Resources

The Future of Energy

The 2-day Future of Energy Course examines the disruptive technological changes that are shaping the energy landscape, and tracks the potential impact of these on the outlook for traditional fossil fuels.

Energy Data Analysis

This 3-day course on energy data analysis surveys the key datasets used in energy market analysis, including IEA, UN, EIA, OPEC and others. The course explains how to use the traditional daily, weekly, monthly and annual data, and explores the challenge of Big Data in energy market analysis.

Energy Fundamentals

The 2-day course on Energy Fundamentals provides an overview of the supply-demand balance in the oil, gas and coal market and explores the evolving role of renewables in the global energy mix.

Energy Futures and Derivatives Markets

The 3-day course provides an overview of the main energy futures contracts in Europe, the United States, Asia and elsewhere. The course explains the structure and purpose of futures, options, forward and swap deals, and gives examples of how these can be used in risk management. All the main crude oil, refined products, natural gas, LNG, coal and electricity contracts are covered.

Resource Conflicts and their Impact

The 3-day course focusses on the key conflicts around the world that have the potential to disrupt the flow of natural resource and energy commodities. The course assesses the likelihood that these will worsen, and the likely impact on commodity flows depending on the severity of escalation of these conflicts.
 
Crude oil and Refined Products

Oil Market Fundamentals

This course is available as a 1-day Introductory course and also as a more detailed 3-day course. The course covers the regional suppliers of crude oil, the global refining sector, and refined product trends including demand for road transportation fuels, petrochemical feedstocks, heating and power fuels, bunkers and avaition fuel.
 
Crude Oil Pricing and Forecasting
This 2-day course provides an overview of the benchmark pricing system and interprets how forward curves for crude oil futures can be integrated with supply-demand analysis to create consistent and rigorous forecasts for individual crude oils.
 
Refined Products Pricing and Forecasting
This 2-day course provides an overview of refined products pricing mechanisms and interprets how forward swaps curves can be integrated with supply-demand analysis and freight information to create forecasts for refined products in specific locations.
 
Forecasting Crude Oil and Refined Product Prices
This course is available as a 3-day and a 5-day course, depending on the requirements of delegates. The 3-day course provides the key information from Crude Oil pricing and Forecasting and Refined Products Pricing and Forecasting (above). This can be done as a 5-day course through taking a hands-on 2-day workshop designed to test and consolidate the key learnings from the 3-day course.

Introduction to Petroleum Refining

This 1-day course introduces the basics of how oil refineries process crude oil to make finished petroleum products. As well as the basics of what the various refinery units do, the course provides an overview of crude selection, refinery economics, distillation and conversion processes, and the refinery management cycle.
 
Natural Gas and LNG

Gas Market Fundamentals

This course is available as a 1-day Introductory course and also as a more detailed 3-day course. The course covers the regional suppliers of natural gas, including associated/non-associated gas, shale gas and Natural gas Liquids; gas demand from the power, industrial, commercial, residential, and transport sector; gas networks and transportation, including the LNG and regasification sector.
 
LNG Economics and Markets
This 3-day course provides a comprehensive overview of the LNG sector, including liquefaction process, the economics of LNG versus pipe gas, regasification and storage technologies, and the pricing of LNG.

Gas and LNG Pricing and Forecasting

This 1-day course provides an overview of the pricing of natural gas and Liquefied Natural Gas and reviews how pricing trends have evolved in recent years. The course covers the main trading hubs in Europe and the US, and explains the links between oil prices and gas prices in both long-term contracts and spot transactions.
 
The Gas Value Chain
This 1-day course explains the gas value chain from exploration and production to transportation and downstream storage and distribution to the end-users in the power, industry, transport and commercial and residential sectors.
 

Power Sector Fuels

 
Introduction to Gas, Coal and Electricity Markets
This 2-day course provides an introduction to the key markets in Europe, the United States and Asia in which fuels for the power sector are traded. The pricing mechanisms and derivative instruments used are clearly explained. The instruments such as spark and dark spreads that are used to examine the inter-relationship between these markets is also covered.

The Outlook for Gas, Coal, Oil and Renewables in Power Generation

This 2-day course examines historical trends in the use of fossil and renewable fuels in power generation. Based on fundamental analysis of supply-demand trends in each of the fuels, the course builds an outlook for what the future balance of the power mix will be in the near-, medium- and long-term (2020, 2030 and 2050).

Renewables in the Energy Mix

 
Timeline to Low Carbon: The Role of Renewables in the Evolving Energy Mix
The 2-day course reviews the climate commitments of the nearly 200 countries that have signed the Paris Agreement, and examines the strategies to develop renewable energy to which many of the signatories have committed. The course explains the economics of renewable energies including wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels and more.
 
Skills Development

Presentation skills

This 2-day course provides the opportunity for delegates to prepare and make presentations before an audience and then review how the presentation could have been improved in the light of tutor and audience feedback. The course is highly interactive, covering the whole presentation skills cycle including the research phase; slide and visuals preparation; fine-tuning the key points for maximum effect; and the delivery of the presentation. Delegates’ presentations are recorded on video to allow for a full review.

Developing your energy analytical skills

This 2-day course aims to hone the wide range of skills required of an energy analyst. It covers the key data analytics tools used in energy market analysis, but also provides hands on tips for how to communicate the results of your analysis effectively.

Team-Building and Motivation

This 1-day course involves role-playing exercises and team games designed to help you understand the individual roles within teams, and how to harness the divergent energies of those in a group to best effect. The course uses personality and psychometric tests to identify who you are and how you operate, and provides practical tips on how you can use your unique style to get the best results.

Dealing with Conflict

This 1-day course explains the origins of conflicts and explores ways that coaching and mediation can help in their resolution– or in many cases, their successful management. The course focusses on workplace disputes but is intended to provide a range of practical techniques that can be used to defuse conflicts before they have escalated.

Clear and effective business writing

The 2-day course works through a series of real life exercises that require delegates to communicate clearly and effectively in a range of business situations. From basic email skills to writing published reports, this course provides practical tips for writing better English, keeping the interest of readers, and achieving a professional look and tone in corporate reports.
 
 

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