Tokyo announced plans to build hydrogen fueling stations, add fuel cell vehicles to its fleets and offer more incentives to electric vehicle buyers as part of its $325 million initiative to move away from nuclear power.
“It’s time to introduce a hydrogen era,” said Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week.
The project includes 35 new hydrogen stations within the capital, said Makoto Fujimoto, who leads the planning team at Tokyo’s energy department. Fujimoto added that the city is also working with Toyota and Honda in hopes of adding 6,000 FCVs to the city in the next five years.
Tokyo’s announcement comes a few days after Prime Minister Abe took possession of Toyota’s first Mirai, a fuel cell vehicle (FCV) that will be available in the U.S. later this year.
“Under Prime Minister Abe’s tremendous leadership, natural-resource-scare Japan will usher in a hydrogen society before anywhere else,” said Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda during the press conference. “This will be a long journey, and to make this first step truly historic we will all need to work together.”
Four years ago, a tsunami destroyed much of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, located 160 miles northeast of Tokyo. The disaster led to a shutdown of most of Japan’s nuclear reactors, which previously had supplied almost a third of the country’s electricity. In 2012, the Japanese government, backed by the majority of the population, said steps would be taken to eliminate the country’s nuclear power by the 2030s.
Japan wants to show its progression towards that goal when it hosts the summer games of the 2020 Olympics.
“The Olympics are a good opportunity to showcase new technologies,” said Hiroshi Takahashi, a research fellow at Fujitsu Research Institute. “It’s also a significant chance to attract new investment and update the city’s transportation system to make it fuel cell friendly.”