Kawasaki Heavy says liquefied hydrogen carrier departs Japan for Australia

A Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. logo is seen at the Paris auto show in Paris, France, October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

TOKYO, Dec 24 (Reuters) - The world's first liquefied hydrogen carrier left Japan on Friday to pick up its first cargo in Australia, with a return to Japan expected around late February, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd (7012.T) said.

The A$500 million ($362 million) pilot project, led by Japan's Kawasaki and backed by the Japanese and Australian governments, was originally scheduled to ship its first cargo of hydrogen extracted from brown coal in Australia in the spring.

But it was delayed to the second half of Kawasaki's financial year, which runs from October to March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It depends on the weather, but the hydrogen carrier 'Suiso Frontier' is due to arrive in Australia in mid-January and is expected to return to Japan in around late February," a spokesperson said.

A one-way trip takes about 16 days.

Kawasaki Heavy aims to replicate its success as a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker producer with hydrogen, a key element that may help decarbonise industries and aid the global energy transition. read more

In March this year, the Japanese-Australian venture started producing hydrogen from brown coal in the test project that aims to show liquefied hydrogen can be produced and exported safely to Japan.

Partners on the Australian side of the project include Japan's Electric Power Development Co (J-Power) (9513.T), Iwatani Corp , Marubeni Corp (8002.T), Sumitomo Corp (8053.T) and Australia's AGL Energy Ltd , whose mine is supplying the brown coal.

($1 = 1.3816 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.