Japan draws support for global hydrogen proposals, including refueling stations

FILE PHOTO: A passerby walks past in front of a hydrogen station in Tokyo, Japan April 24, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan, which is seeking to promote the development of hydrogen energy worldwide, said on Wednesday that it had received support from 30 countries for a plan to set up 10,000 hydrogen refueling stations worldwide within 10 years.

Japan announced the plan at the Hydrogen Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo, an annual event set up last year by the Japanese government and attended by energy ministers or delegates from 30 countries.

“We have put together a global action agenda as a common guideline for development of hydrogen energy,” Isshu Sugawara, Japanese minister of economy, trade and industry, told a news conference after the meeting.

The countries also supported other non-mandatory and collective goals proposed by Japan at the meeting, he said. They include producing 10 million hydrogen-powered mobility systems such as fuel cell vehicles, trucks, buses, trains and ships worldwide in 10 years and promoting the development of international standards for hydrogen in maritime transport.

“Japan wants to stay as a front runner by accelerating the development of hydrogen, a key future technology, and taking an initiative to promote global energy transition,” Sugawara said.

Japan’s cabinet in June adopted a long-term emissions reduction strategy under the Paris Agreement, including the goal for the country to be carbon-neutral soon after 2050. The strategy includes cutting the cost of producing carbon dioxide-free hydrogen to less than a tenth of current levels by 2050.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), in its first major report on the fuel in June, said the world should take up the challenge to boost the use of hydrogen as a potentially emissions-free source of energy.

The cost of producing hydrogen from renewable energy could fall by 30% by 2030 and the fuel could reduce emissions in industries such as transport, chemicals and steel, the IEA said, although it warned there were still major challenges such as slow development of infrastructure and regulatory hurdles.

Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) and JXTG Holdings announced plans in March to build one of the world’s biggest hydrogen stations in Tokyo by mid-2020.

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Susan Fenton