• Home fuel cells being promoted in push for hydrogen society
  • Ministry says home fuel cell costs must be cut dramatically

Japan is aiming to have 40,000 hydrogen-powered cars on its roads by 2020, with plans for a 20-fold expansion to 800,000 by 2030, according to a report released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Wednesday outlining the future use of hydrogen and fuel cells.

The country, whose prime minister has vowed to turn it into a “hydrogen society” as a way to diversify energy sources and cut carbon dioxide emissions, currently has about 400 fuel-cell vehicles and about 80 hydrogen stations either operating or soon to operate, according to the report, which was revised from an earlier version released in June 2014.

Japan also plans to double the number of hydrogen stations to about 160 by the time the fiscal year ends in March 2021, boosting that to 320 in the following five years. Japan’s fiscal year begins in April.

Honda Motor Co. announced last week that it’s beginning sales of its Clarity Fuel Cell sedan in Japan. Honda, Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. are championing fuel cell vehicles to eliminate tailpipe emissions, while offering range and refueling times similar to internal-combustion engines.

As part of the hydrogen push, Japan has also been promoting home fuel cells that are capable of producing electricity and hot water, with a goal of 5.3 million units by 2030. Currently, the number of installations stands at about 150,000, according to the ministry.

The price of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell should be reduced to 800,000 yen ($7,000) by 2019, from a current subsidized 1.42 million yen, according to the document. For a solid oxide fuel cell, the price needs to be cut to 1 million yen by 2021, from 1.77 million yen now.