Fukushima is often mentioned as the place where one of the worst nuclear disasters in recent times happened. In March 2011, on a Friday afternoon, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, a 9.0-magnitude quake was so forceful it shifted the Earth off its axis.
It triggered a tsunami which swept over the main island of Honshu, killing more than 18,000 people and wiping entire towns off the map, according to a report in BBC. At the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the gigantic wave surged over defences and flooded the reactors, sparking a major disaster.
Fast forward 10 years and all that is set to change. Fukushima Prefecture and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) are focusing on hydrogen as a new source of energy.
Since June 2021, they have been discussing specific initiatives of the project with various partners to create an implementation model focusing on hydrogen use in cities with populations of around 300,000 which is typical of Japan, before applying the model to similar-sized cities nationwide.
The two parties have committed to fully implementing the model using hydrogen with the aim of developing new cities of the future that utilize both hydrogen produced in Fukushima and hydrogen-related technologies developed in Fukushima. The project will focus on deliveries to supermarkets and convenience stores which are a part of the essential urban infrastructure, and evacuation areas in times of disaster.
To achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, specific efforts are further required to establish a sustainable society that can be passed on to the next generation. Through the implementation model focused on hydrogen, Fukushima Prefecture, Toyota, and their partners will strengthen shared convictions and expand their circle of cooperation. They will work steadily to realize one of the world’s first hydrogen societies and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
As a part of the social implementation, light-duty fuel cell (FC) electric trucks and establishing energy management systems that are integrated with operational management will be implemented. In collaboration with Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies (CJPT), the consignors and logistics businesses, infrastructure providers, and automakers will work together to introduce light-duty FC electric trucks in Iwaki and Koriyama Cities, and establish energy management systems that integrate fleet operation management.
Specifically, as convenience stores and supermarkets begin to introduce FC light-duty trucks from January 2023, we will build an energy management system that links the fleet management system of each company, vehicle travel information, and hydrogen station information. This system will provide optimal placement and operating conditions for hydrogen stations, avoid traffic congestion at hydrogen stations, and minimize vehicle and cargo downtime due to travel time to and from hydrogen stations.
Promoting Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)
Approximately 60 light-duty FC electric trucks will be introduced in Iwaki City and Koriyama City, and there are plans to introduce heavy-duty FC electric trucks as well. Part of the construction of the energy management system will be carried out by the consortium, of which CJPT is the managing company, in the “Green Innovation Fund Projects / Smart Mobility Society Construction Project” subsidized by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a national research and development corporation.
According to officials, by introducing vehicles capable of generating new value through the use of electricity and having a clean and quiet usage environment, this project will bring a range of benefits, including helping to make cities more convenient―especially those with aging populations or those suffering from depopulation―and will help promote the appeal of Fukushima Prefecture.
Since June 2022, we have been promoting the use of a mobile retail vehicle equipped with electrical appliances such as refrigerators and freezers in the towns of Namie and Futaba, utilizing the power generation capabilities of FCEVs.
Decarbonising through Renewable Energy & Hydrogen
In an effort to decarbonise plants and stores, the project will seek to increase the use of renewable energy and establish models that utilise hydrogen, officials said. More specifically, the project will use Denso Fukushima’s plants to showcase the implementation of hydrogen technologies.
They will begin building a model for the local consumption of locally produced hydrogen by developing new electrolysis equipment to produce clean hydrogen and combust it in the plants’ gas furnaces. In addition to the installation of stationary FC generators in offices to reduce carbon emissions, we will also begin implementation with a view to using them as a power source in times of disaster, and we will also study the possibility of installing the FC generators in stores.
The hydrogen utilization at Denso’s Fukushima Plant will be implemented as a project subsidized by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).
Participating partners, as of July 19, 2022 (in alphabetical order)
– AEON TOHOKU Co., Ltd.
– Air Liquide Japan G.K.
– Asahi Group Japan, Ltd.
– Ban-ei Transportation Co., Ltd.
– enagia. Inc.
– DENSO Corporation
– DENSO FUKUSHIMA CORPORATION
– FamilyMart Co., Ltd.
– Hino Motors, Ltd.
– Hitachi Transport System, Ltd.
– Isuzu Motors Limited
– Iwatani Corporation
– Koriyama Kanko Kotsu Co., Ltd.
– Lawson, Inc.
– MIRAIT ONE Corporation
– NEMOTO Corporation
– Onahama Packaging Materials Co., Ltd.
– Sagawa Express Co., Ltd.
– SATO NENRYO CO., LTD.
– Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd.
– Shioya Sangyo, Ltd.
– Tamura Kenzai Co., Ltd.
– Toyota Central R&D Labs., Inc.
– TOYOTA MOBILITY PARTS Co., Ltd.
– Toyota Tsusho Corporation
– Yamato Densetsu Co., Ltd.
– YORK-BENIMARU CO., Ltd.
– Namie Town, Futaba Town
– National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) Fukushima Renewable Energy Institute
New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)
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