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11 companies take on ‘all-Japan’ approach to hydrogen infrastructure

Toyota Hydrogen Station concept Source: Toyota

Toyota, Nissan, and Honda are among the 11 companies which have agreed to work together to construct large-scale hydrogen stations in Japan.

According to Toyota, the move is intended to boost the commercialisation of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles through the development of infrastructure and vehicle production.

The companies involved also include JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy, Idemitsu Kosan, Iwatani Corportation, Tokyo Gas , Toho Gas, Air Liquide Japan, Toyota’s Tshusho Corporation, and the Development Bank of Japan.

The group has signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ to move the collaboration forward – dubbed an ‘all-Japan’ approach in relation to the Japanese government’s 2014 Strategic Roadmap for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells. The strategy was put in place to enable the building of 160 operational hydrogen stations by 2020. It is hoped that this will swell the numbers of in-use FCVs to 40,000.

The Tshusho Corporation handles vehicle electronics, while the rest are involved in energy production and provision for homes and businesses. Accordingly, this partnership may result in the emergence of a new company. Potentially forming during 2017, it would aim to make construction of hydrogen stations consistent and frequent, to achieve a wider uptake of FCVs. From this, the alliance hopes to produce independence within the hydrogen station business, reduce costs, inform governmental policies on operations, and make the business more efficient.

Earlier this year, ElecTrans reported on a similar European collaboration of 13 companies. The Hydrogen Council will include vehicle companies, Toyota and Honda, as well as Daimler, BMW, Hyundai, and fuel companies, Royal Dutch Shell and Total.

Again, the formation of the group comes after legislation. In the case of the Hydrogen Council, the collaboration was inspired by the UN Paris Agreement and driven by the necessity to decarbonise transport systems.

However, Japan’s tactic seems to be more commercially and socially driven, with the idea that the alliance will contribute to the realisation of a “hydrogen society in Japan.”

Furthermore, the guiding legislation was compiled by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry rather than an agency with a specifically environmental focus or reason. All together, with the strong presence of big energy suppliers, it will be interesting to see how all the different expertise will be able to focus on the specifics of FCVs.

Notably, Toyota and Honda are involved in both projects so it seems unlikely that the move is intended to totally shut out non-Japanese markets. However, success would certainly place Japanese automotive companies well ahead of European and American rivals in terms of both product demand and technology.


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