A project team working to promote the development of fuel cell technology on Monday proposed that the deadline for easing and abolishing regulations related to the cells be moved forward to 2005 from 2020.

The team — made up of senior vice ministers of the Environment Ministry, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, and the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry — has concluded a report aimed at boosting the use of fuel cell products and will submit it to the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy in the near future.

The team hopes to push forward the government’s target of introducing 5 million fuel-cell cars and fuel-cell stations with a capacity totaling 10 million kilowatts by 2020.

Fuel cells utilize a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity.

The cells are expected to enter a commercial stage in 2005, and a market for fuel cell products is expected to start expanding in 2010.

In its report, the team called for a feasibility study into the setting up of a fuel-supply system along public roads, such as hydrogen-refueling stations, and the implementation of buses with fuel cells.

At present, the government only plans to carry out a study on fuel-cell cars.

The team also proposed that fuel-cell car races be held in a bid to boost public interest toward the vehicles and the progress of fuel-cell technology.

To increase on-site fuel-cell power generation for home and commercial uses, the team proposed that various fuel cell-related projects be set up in Hokkaido as a model region.

Fuel cells, which emit no carbon-dioxide, are expected to become a key energy source in the future.

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