Hydrogen-powered trucks to hit road in January in Fukushima-Toyota tie-up

The Fukushima prefectural government and Toyota Motor Corp., based in Toyota city, Aichi Prefecture, will put into use about 60 trucks powered by hydrogen-based fuel cells starting next January for merchandise deliveries to supermarkets, convenience stores and other retailers in the cities of Koriyama and Iwaki. It will be the first time in Japan that fuel cell trucks are used for commercial purposes. The prefectural government and Toyota have been collaborating in pursuit of consumer goods distribution by vehicles running on locally produced hydrogen. Their joint efforts have reached a point where a major step is set to be taken in Fukushima toward building a hydrogen-utilizing society. The project was adopted on July 19 as a subsidized initiative to build a hydrogen society model by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). Large trucks are also planned to be added in the future to the project, which currently involves seven companies based in Fukushima Prefecture. The prefectural government will subsidize the relevant expenses for the businesses operating the trucks. The hydrogen to be used for the trucks includes renewable energy-derived "green hydrogen" produced at the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field in the town of Namie, one of the world's largest hydrogen production facilities. A fixed-type hydrogen station is in operation in each of the two cities involved. Once the trucks hit the road, various types of data will be collected in order to help establish a newer logistics system around hydrogen use. Specifically, studies are to be conducted on how to optimize locations for hydrogen stations, avoid traffic congestion, and shorten parking time required on the way to refueling, among other things. The truck operations in Koriyama and Iwaki are expected to prove applicable to many other cities in Japan, especially those with a population of around 300,000 -- roughly the same size as the two. In another NEDO-linked project, Denso Fukushima Corp. in Tamura city will produce hydrogen for consumption within its plant in the current fiscal year ending next March. The company will develop new water electrolysis equipment to produce 28 tons of hydrogen a year and then consume the output as fuel for a material-processing gas furnace. (Translated by Kyodo News)