Hydrogen highway (Japan)

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Japan's hydrogen highway is a network of hydrogen filling stations placed along roadsides that provide fuel for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCV). An HFCV is a vehicle that uses a fuel cell to convert hydrogen energy into electrical energy. The hydrogen that is used in fuel cell vehicles can be made using fossil or renewable resources. The hydrogen highway is necessary for HFCVs to be used. HFCV reduce tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases.[1] By May 2016, there were approximately 80 hydrogen fueling stations in Japan.[2]

Japanese hydrogen powered cars[edit]

Since 2014, Toyota and Honda have begun to introduce Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV) that convert hydrogen into electricity while only emitting water vapor at the tailpipe. FCV sales are limited by the need for a Hydrogen supply infrastructure network. This network's purpose would be to make the purchase of hydrogen powered vehicles more appealing to the public.


The first two hydrogen fueling stations were built for the JHFC's Expo, to promote the usage of hydrogen fuel, in March 2005. The fuel stations were displayed in two different sides in the city of Seto (Seto-North and Seto-South). This Expo for introducing hydrogen fuel cell technology proved effective as over 1,300 kg of fuel was dispensed from the stations.[3] At the end of 2012 there where 17 hydrogen stations.[4]

The Japanese government planned to add up to 100 public hydrogen stations under a budget of 460 million dollars covering 50% of the installation costs with the last ones hoped to be operational in 2015.[5][6] JX Energy expected to install 40 stations by 2015.[7] Toho Gas and Iwatani Corp[8] expected to install an additional 20 stations.[9] Toyota Tsusho and Air Liquide made a JV to build 2 hydrogen stations hoped to be ready by 2015.[10] A "task force" led by Yuriko Koike, Japan's former environment minister, and supported by the country's Liberal Democratic Party was set up to guide the process.[11]

By May 2016, there were approximately 80 hydrogen fueling stations in Japan.[12]

Creators of the JHFC[edit]

The members from the government branch are

  • Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
  • Agency of Natural Resources and Energy
  • Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT)

Member from a semi-governmental organization

  • New Energy and Industrial Technology Development

Member of Public Research

  • National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology

Member of Private Firm

  • Fuel Cell Commercialization Conference of Japan

Reasons for Japan's investment in fuel cells[edit]

The two motivations for the research and development of fuel cells were because of the energy policy and the industrial policy.

  • Energy policy
    • Create/Find a new source of renewable energy
    • Stay technologically competitive with other companies
      • Many countries are seeing how efficient Fuel Cells are which is why Japan seeks to expand their investments in the Fuel Cell industry
  • Environmental Issues
    • Slow the “climate change”
      • Japan, like the rest of the world, seeks to reduce green house gas emissions by using "safer" forms of energy
  • Industrial policy
    • Maintain a competitive economy through advanced technology
      • Fuel cells are profitable, being well invested in such and industry will give Japan an advantage economically speaking[1]


The cost of these Hydrogen gas stations is not cheap so there are many car and oil companies that are supporting this transition. There are 13 main companies that are paying for the new source of fuel.[13]

  • Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC)
  • Nissan Motor Company
  • Honda Motor Company
  • JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation
  • Idemitsu Kosan Company
  • Iwatani Corporation
  • Osaka Gas Company
  • Cosmo Oil Company
  • Saibu Gas Company
  • Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K.
  • Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation
  • Tokyo Gas Company
  • Toho Gas Company