History of the Hydrogen Energy Systems Society of Japan (HESS)

Established: July 17, 1973 


Back in 1973, the idea of using hydrogen as energy was considered little more than a dream, and was far from the minds of the general public. There were people, though, who could see ahead to the present issues for the earth’s environment and stable energy supply. Deeply aware of the importance of hydrogen energy as a promising means of solving such issues, they enlisted like-minded persons to establish a Hydrogen Energy Research Society for promoting R&D in this area. Later it became the Hydrogen Energy Systems Society of Japan (HESS). The original founders were Dr. Tokio Ohta, now Professor Emeritus of Yokohama National University, Dr. Hideo Akamatsu, now Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo, and Dr. Koji Fushimi, currently Professor Emeritus of Nagoya University.

While initially the members were mainly from academia, later they were joined by corporations from the industrial world. It was also a time when research on hydrogen technology was being carried out in various places throughout the world. In 1974, the International Association for Hydrogen Energy (IAHE) was established through cooperation among those involved in these studies, including Professor T. N. Veziroglu of the University of Miami in the US, Professor C. Winter of Stuttgart University in Germany, and Japan’s Hydrogen Energy Research Society.

Our organization became a general incorporated association on July 28, 2010, as the present Hydrogen Energy Systems Society of Japan.

Reasons for Establishing HESS

Depletion of fossil fuels is said to be only a half-century away, and already the economic impact of such predictions is being felt in various forms. Moreover, as is by now well recognized, pollution resulting from the burning of fossil fuels is threatening the very conditions that make the earth habitable by human beings.

Thus the golden age of the oil economy turned out to be a fleeting dream. Accordingly, taking a systematic and comprehensive approach to clean energy became a matter on which survival as a nation depended, especially for a country like Japan with its high population density and advanced industry.

Given this situation, we see an urgent need for studies and research enabling the establishment of an ideal clean energy system, suited to our society and climate. Such a system might, for example, turn to solar, nuclear or other sources as primary energy and support secondary energy with electric power and hydrogen.

We also wish to promote research for establishing engineering and industrial theory and technologies suited to hydrogen energy systems, while fostering greater awareness among the general public of the importance of these efforts, and making a strong appeal for cooperation from all circles in coming up with solutions.

It is our sincere hope that all those with an interest in energy issues and related fields, and who share the above concerns, will give us your cooperation in this undertaking.

July 17, 1973
The founders

Objectives of HESS Activities
The problem of global warming, caused by increasing consumption of fossil fuels, is a major issue faced by the entire world, leading to demands for reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Introduction of renewable energy, or of techniques for capture and storage of carbon dioxide, are therefore needed. Hydrogen can be produced from various kinds of renewable energy as well as from fossil fuels. It is thus a form of secondary energy along with electric power that can contribute to protection of the global environment, so that its introduction has the potential to realize a sustainable society.

At the same time, however, many issues will need to be solved in order to build a hydrogen energy system making large-scale use of hydrogen. Solving the technology issues that are key to success will require approaching them by assembling science and engineering knowledge. Introducing hydrogen energy onto the market will also require major changes in social systems, making essential the cooperation of industry, government, and academia in solving the issues.

The aims of HESS, besides contributing to research and development of hydrogen energy and fuel cell technologies, extend to a broad range of other activities toward building a hydrogen society. These include informing the public that hydrogen energy technology is moving beyond the R&D stage and has the potential to grow into a major industry; contributing to the introduction and spread of hydrogen energy in a coordinated effort by industry, government, and academia; and building ties with overseas organizations and academic societies for exchange of information and mutual support.


to Page top