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Japan Aims For a Sustainable ‘Hydrogen Society’. Here’s What It Could Mean.

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This Japanese company just installed 10 hydrogen pumps in order to start making the push towards a hydrogen-powered society.  The pumps are run by a hydrogen tank in the back that only needs to be refilled once per month.

The Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe has announced that hydrogen in the “energy of the future” and has high hopes that Tokyo will meet the targets for emissions set by the UN climate change conference ahead of time.  Their goals are to make the homes and cars in japan hydrogen powered which would also make them emission-free.

By the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the city plans to create a “hydrogen highway” where they have cars, buses and buildings powered by clean energy and back by convenient fueling stations.

Director of the French technology company Air Liquide Pierre-Etienne Franc said that Japan, being the 6th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, has “constructed a vision of society” based on hydrogen.

Many people are interested in hydrogen technology because it is environmentally responsible.  You don’t have the CO2 emissions and the air quality is better.  In many places, the lack of fueling stations and the higher price of vehicles has hindered some from being able to replace their traditional oil based vehicle with a cleaner technology such as hydrogen.

There are some concerns to consider when it comes to our current level of hydrogen technology.  Japan will have to face issues when it comes to the hydrogen explosion risks since the gas is highly flammable and volatile.  The current stations they have installed underwent rigorous testing to “withstand any shocks” but the price of installing pumps may also be a barrier.

“The main problem is the cost — we have just started, it doesn’t happen overnight,” Hisashi Nakai, from the Toyota’s strategy planning department. Who also said that “Building hydrogen stations is two or three times more expensive than in Europe or the US.”

Even though it costs nearly $3.2 million (395-million yen) to build a fueling station the Japanese government has vowed to further Tokyo’s progress by building 76 station by 2016.

Priminister Shinzo Abe envisions that the hydrogen industry will grow to around 1 trillion yen ($8.3 billion) a year by 2030.  He also plans to outfit homes in Japan with green hydrogen technology which was unveiled back in 2009.

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His goal is to set up 1.4 million homes with hydrogen technology by 2020 and then outfit another 5.3 home by 2030.  So far 100,000 homes have made the switch.  Even with government assistance the price of hydrogen technology is only going down a little bit at a time.  Most residents aren’t able to afford it such yet since it costs around $16,500 (2 mil yen) to make the switch.

“The technology is not fully developed, it will likely take several more years before it reaches mass production,” said French energy executive from Total, Hubert de Mestier.

Because there is a high cost associated with the compression and transportation of hydrogen other experts are urging Japan to focus on other more developed green energies before switching to hydrogen.

“Japan should not be mistaken. If it is keen on becoming a sustainable country, the government should invest first in renewable energies” said Greenpeace ecologist Ai Kashiwagi. “After that, hydrogen will come.”

What do you think about this jump to hydrogen technology?  Do you agree with the Priministers bold decision to drastically reduce pollution in his country?  Do you think cost should even be considered when it comes to saving the environment?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Image Credits: australianscience.com

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