Toyota, Fukushima to test trucks fueled by locally produced hydrogen

Toyota Motor Corp. and the Fukushima prefectural government announced on June 4 that public demonstration tests will be launched in the two prefectural cities of Koriyama and Iwaki next year to verify the use of hydrogen-based fuel cell trucks in local logistics services. The first domestic project of its kind calls for goods delivery to local supermarkets and convenience stores on trucks fueled by hydrogen produced in Fukushima, establishing a new logistics model. Promoters of the project hope to spread the outcome of the Fukushima experiment throughout the country, eventually helping to realize a hydrogen-based society. Toyota will cooperate with Isuzu Motors Ltd. and Hino Motors Ltd. in producing dozens of small fuel cell trucks for use in goods transportation by two Fukushima-based supermarket operators, York-Benimaru Co. in Koriyama and Maruto Co. in Iwaki. Stores covered by the trucking service are expected to be those in the two cities plus neighboring municipalities. Major convenience store operators will also participate in the project. To be verified in the experiment are the volume of hydrogen required and economic efficiency, among other things. It is also planned to establish an efficient hydrogen-refueling system to forestall congestion at stations supplying the gas. The project is intended to boost prefectural people's interest in hydrogen energy by continuous use of the gas at places familiar to them such as supermarkets and convenience stores. Part of the hydrogen supply will include renewable energy-derived "green hydrogen" produced at "Fukushima Hydrogen Research Field," one of the world's largest facilities for demonstrating hydrogen production, in the town of Namie. One hydrogen station with a fixed type of refueling equipment is already in operation in Iwaki while another is scheduled to be set up in Koriyama within fiscal 2021 ending next March. Toyota believes that it will be easy to apply the Fukushima formula to municipalities elsewhere in Japan as there are many cities with the same size of population of some 300,000 as Koriyama and Iwaki. The use of food trucks and doctors' cars based on fuel cells is targeted for the future. The Fukushima government is also seeking to introduce fixed-type fuel cells to shops and factories in the prefecture, among other measures, to reduce the use of carbon in local supply chains as a whole. The local government will act as a mediator or coordinator for companies partnering with Toyota while negotiating for funding from the central government for initiatives to achieve carbon neutrality (zero greenhouse gas emission), greater use of renewable energy, and the like. Hydrogen is drawing attention as a source of next-generation energy that does not emit any carbon dioxide. But hydrogen-using infrastructure has yet to be established, leaving the cost of introducing the gas expensive. Cultivation of demand for the gas is another challenging issue. Companies and relevant entities participating in the project are listed below (as of June 4). Project organizers hope to broaden the network of partnerships and enlarge the initiative. According to the joint announcement by Toyota and Fukushima, they "intend to steadily promote the realization of one of the world's first hydrogen societies, and of carbon neutrality, by...taking advantage of the diverse regional characteristics of Fukushima Prefecture." Partners in the hydrogen-using project led by Toyota Motor and Fukushima Prefecture (as of June 4; in parentheses are head office locations): • Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. (Tokyo) • Aeon Co. (Chiba) • Isuzu Motors Ltd. (Tokyo) • Satonenryo Co. (Koriyama) • Seven-Eleven Japan Co. (Tokyo) • Denso Fukushima Corp. (Tamura) • Nemoto Corp. (Iwaki) • Hino Motors Ltd. (Tokyo) • FamilyMart Co. (Tokyo) • Maruto Co. (Iwaki) • York-Benimaru Co. (Koriyama) • Lawson Inc. (Tokyo) • Fukushima Renewable Energy Institute, AIST • New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (Translated by Kyodo News)