Green Car Reports says the Japanese government is planning to spend $385,000,000 on hydrogen fuel infrastructure ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The money will be used to construct 35 hydrogen fueling stations in and around Tokyo. The government also wants Toyota and Honda to have at least 6,000 hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles on the road in Japan by then.
The Tokyo city government is paying 80% of the cost. Businesses that build hydrogen refueling station will pay a maximum of $850,000 per location. Anything over that will be paid by the government. The government may pay the entire cost for individuals. In addition, the City of Tokyo will give buyers of hydrogen cars an $8,500 tax credit. That’s on top of the $17,000 credit already available from the national government.
Every city likes to say the Olympics are an opportunity to invest in infrastructure improvements and show the best possible face to the world. But the incentives being offered to FCEV buyers are triple those given to buyers of Mitstubishi’s i-MiEV electric car. If you divided the $385,000,000 governments say they are going to spend on hydrogen infrastructure by 35 hydrogen stations, that comes to more than $10,000,000 per station. And if you assume that Toyota and Honda will actually have 6000 FCEV’s running around the streets of Tokyo by then, the government subsidies total more than $64,000 per car. Yikes!
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for more aggressive promotion of fuel cells and the construction of a national fueling station network. He envisions a “hydrogen society” where fuel cells power homes and office buildings, as well as cars. What’s really going on here is the hangover from the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in 2011, a debacle that is still causing ripples in Japanese society and the country’s economy today. Like Chernobyl, it’s the nightmare scenario that won’t go away.
Today, Japan is desperate to shut down its remaining nuclear plants and is spending $85,000,000 a day to buy natural gas to power its electric generating system. That means all the hydrogen subsidies it plans to spend before 2020 amount to only 4.5 days worth of natural gas purchases. By that analysis, the subsidies are just a drop in the proverbial bucket.