Japan Inc wants to become a hydrogen superpower
IN 2016 TOKYO’S then governor, Masuzoe Yoichi, predicted that the Olympics the Japanese capital was to host in 2020 would “leave a hydrogen society as its legacy”, just as the 1964 Tokyo games left the Shinkansen bullet trains. Later that year Mr Masuzoe resigned over an expenses scandal. But as Tokyo prepares for the pandemic-delayed opening ceremony on July 23rd his dream lives on.
For the first time, the Olympic torch burned hydrogen (never mind that the flame is colourless). Officials will be ferried around in some 500 cars and 100 buses made by Toyota and running on fuel cells, portable power plants that consume hydrogen and emit only water vapour. The Kawasaki King Skyfront Tokyu Rei hotel gets energy from hydrogen sourced from waste plastics.
All nifty, to be sure. But also as immaterial as the lightest gas. Fuel-cell cars are miles from the mass market, despite 20 years of efforts by Toyota and other Japanese firms. The lack of refuelling infrastructure, difficulty of storing the stuff in small vehicles and fuel cells’ persistently high cost all argue against …
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