Business

Ministers and delegates pledge to introduce 10 million fuel cell vehicles globally over 10 years at Japan conference

by Osamu Tsukimori

Staff Writer

Ministers and delegates from more than 30 nations, regions and organizations pledged Wednesday in Tokyo to introduce 10 million fuel cell vehicles, trucks, buses and other hydrogen-powered systems, as well as 10,000 hydrogen refueling stations, globally over the next 10 years.

That means around a 250-fold increase over the next decade, as the current number of fuel cell vehicles, forklifts, trains and ships is estimated to be around 40,000 globally, said Yoshinori Furukawa, director general of New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization’s advanced battery and hydrogen technology department.

That comprises about 10,800 FCVs across Japan, the United States and Germany, 3,000 fuel cell buses and trucks in China, and about 25,100 forklifts in Japan and the U.S., he added.

Economy minister Isshu Sugawara acknowledged the goal is challenging. He added that, given that the International Energy Agency says the next 10 years will be critical to weaning the global economy off fossil fuels, Japan is taking the initiative to spur hydrogen usage and is working on the world’s first demonstration project to liquefy hydrogen from brown coal, which will be mined in Australia and transported to Japan for domestic use. Carbon capture and storage technology will be used for the project.

“The fact that Japan could host this conference in the country for two years in a row is one indication that Japan is taking a leadership role in this sector,” Sugawara told reporters after the ministerial meeting. “Cost reduction is a common challenge for nations. By working together on research and development and technical standardization, the scale-up will hopefully lead to lower costs.”

He added that the Netherlands, which has indicated its willingness to host the Hydrogen Energy Ministerial meeting in the future, pledged to work hard to accomplish the goal.

There was no breakdown of goals by country for those who participated in the event, but the figures were set based on each country’s projections, said Toshiyuki Shirai, director of the hydrogen and fuel cell strategy office at the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.

Only a select group of automakers currently manufacture FCVs, including Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. Toyota has sold 10,000 units of its Mirai FCV since its launch in 2014 and plans to raise annual production capacity by 10 times to 30,000 units, Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada told the conference.

Japan has a domestic goal of introducing 800,000 FCVs and 900 hydrogen refueling stations by 2030, under a strategic road map revised in March. Under that plan, it will also seek to reduce the price difference between FCVs and hybrid vehicles to ¥700,000 from ¥3 million now.

Sugawara also signed a memorandum of cooperation with Australia’s Minister for Resources Matt Canavan on carbon recycling on Wednesday.

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