Ever tried walking up the stairs two steps at a time? How about down? What about climbing up three steps at once? Which makes you more exhausted, and what is better? Well, it will depend on the length of your legs but in general, taking smaller steps allows you to clock progress more gradually and allows you to advance towards your goal in a more orderly manner.
It is also more sustainable to take small steps towards goals. The problem is that most of the time, the small steps may not always be moving forward. As I mentioned before, sometimes progress involves some degree of backtracking in order to advance. And it might be the same for the case of Hydrogen economy in Japan. The country have been vesting itself into hydrogen technologies and all kinds of end-use applications for this new energy vector but continues to utilize grey hydrogen, without introducing any necessary certification to differentiate grey from green hydrogen.
That can seem problematic as there’s still a lot of Scope 3 emissions from that perspective. In fact, they introduced these decentralised fuel cell based combined heat and power plants for residential homes which also supply hot water (because the hydrogen fuel produces water when it reacts with oxygen in the fuel cell thus releasing energy in the process in the form of electricity). The strange thing is that these decentralised plants are actually fueled by Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) or Natural Gas (NG) which goes into a fuel reformer to produce hydrogen, releasing Carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
I wonder if all of these are small steps sometimes but in the grand order of things, having the ability to shift end-use towards hydrogen is a first step so that we don’t have to rewire the decentralised applications when green hydrogen starts being widely available.