Japan gets its first commercial hydrogen station for vehicles

Kyodo

A ceremony was held Monday for completion of the first hydrogen filling station in Japan.

The facility in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, will be used for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs).

Officials at operator Iwatani Corp. said the station will start retail sales of hydrogen after fuel-cell vehicles hit the market. The first ones are expected to debut by March.

The retail price will be set at similar levels to gasoline in terms of automobile running costs, according to Iwatani.

The major provider of industrial gases invested about ¥500 million in the station, which can fill up a regular-size tank in three minutes.

The facility, built adjacent to the company’s research center, will be used for training purposes until commercial operations begin.

The facility “marks the opening of a hydrogen energy society,” Iwatani President Masao Nomura said. “We will make further efforts to realize a safe and stable supply of hydrogen.”

The government aims to set up about 100 commercial hydrogen stations, mainly in major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, by the end of March 2016 to encourage the use of the next-generation green vehicles.

About 40 stations are currently planned in 11 of the 47 prefectures.

FCVs, powered by electricity generated through the chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, emit only water and no carbon dioxide. Toyota Motor Corp. said last month it will launch the first retail FCV model in the world by next March with a sticker price of around ¥7 million.