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The establishment of hydrogen stations in Japan in urgent need of breakthroughs

Green hydrogen is regarded as a truly zero-carbon green energy source. The hydrogen refueling station will be a highly concerning issue while launching hydrogen vehicles.

Although major national governments and private enterprises have gradually reached a consensus on the development of hydrogen energy, it does not mean that the promotion of hydrogen refueling stations will lead to a smooth road. In Japan, which was the first to mass-produce hydrogen vehicles, the sales volume of domestic hydrogen vehicles was much lower than expected, which was related to the slow increase in the number of hydrogen refueling stations. According to statistics, the sales volume of hydrogen vehicles in Japan in 2021 is 2,464 units, an increase of 67% over the previous year, but the cumulative sales volume has not exceeded 10,000 units, which is far lower than the Japanese government's plan to reach 40,000 units in 2020. vehicle level.

The biggest challenge for a hydrogen refueling station depends to a large extent on the properties of the hydrogen fuel, the lightest and smallest element, thus potentially flowing from a storage tank made of elements larger than hydrogen. To ensure safety against accidental leaks, hydrogen refueling stations cannot have ceilings. In Japan, where land is expensive, gas stations are generally set up on the first floor of buildings, but they cannot be used for hydrogen refueling stations. The land area required for the hydrogen station is about 500 square meters, and unless it is set up on the first floor of the building or in the suburbs, there is almost no possibility of profit.  Construction cost of hydrogen refueling stations in Japan is five times that of gas stations, which is about 500 million yen, which is a very heavy burden on operators. There are only about 157 hydrogen stations available on the Toyota MIRAI website, of which 17 are mobile or temporary facilities, not permanent hydrogen refueling stations; only about 60% are open at noon on weekdays. Furthermore, Japan's long and narrow and mountainous terrain makes expressways less developed, and the promotion of hydrogen refueling stations is limited to metropolitan areas, which is another problem. Since Japan launched the first generation of MIRAI in 2014, it has entered the eighth year, and there is still a lot of room for efforts in the promotion of hydrogen refueling stations. This phenomenon, which is difficult to develop due to factors such as the innate environment, will force the Japanese industry to develop more actively in overseas markets.

Unlike Japan, in order to drive the hydrogen vehicle market, the Ministry of Transport of South Korea has paid special attention to the cooperation with the Korean Expressway Corporation to significantly expand the infrastructure of solar cells and hydrogen vehicles. The company plans to gradually increase the amount of electricity generated by new and renewable sources of electricity along the expressway, reaching the goal of so-called energy-independent expressways. Only 12 hydrogen refueling stations will be operating on highways by the end of 2021, which will increase to 43 and 52 in 2022 and 2023, respectively. South Korea has 104 MW of road solar power facilities in operation, with an additional 76 MW by 2023. However, the South Korean government believes that fuel cell power generation is more efficient than solar power generation, mainly because it is not intermittent and takes up less space. As a result, hydrogen production facilities equivalent to 48 MW are planned to be built in three spare areas of the highway in 2025.

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  • Electrive.com, 2021-12-06, Carrie Hampel, S.Korea builds charging and H2 stations
  • Electrive.com, 2022-03-29, Carrie Hampel, H2 Mobility to increase hydrogen refuelling network
  • PetrolPlaza, Pablo Plaza, 2021-01-21, HysetCo to run 20 hydrogen stations in Paris by 2024
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  • glpautogas.info, Hydrogen Stations in France in May 2022



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