Japan is not planning on scrimping the details when it comes to the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020. Maximizing the event as a venue to exhibit Japan’s high-tech wizardry, the organizers are considering shuttling the athletes from their apartments to their games venue using newly developed hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs).
With Japanese carmakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Corp. seeking to be the first companies to roll out FCVs by 2015, the Tokyo Metropolitan government will be meeting up with them, along with other carmakers, to study the feasibility of using FCVs during the Olympics. Apart from the actual capability of the vehicle to transport the athletes, one major consideration for the metropolitan government is the cost in using and sustaining the vehicle after the event. FCVs are estimated to cost around ¥10 million yen (approx. US$98,000), but the power they run on, which is a chemical reaction of hydrogen mixed with oxygen, will have limited re-fueling stations. The central government is looking at putting up around 100 hydrogen fuel stations in large cities in prefectures such as Tokyo, Aichi, Fukuoka and Osaka by the last quarter of 2015, but with the amount of space required for a hydrogen gas station, it may prove to be challenging for Tokyo’s cramped space, which is also the venue of the event.
The proposal to use FCVs in the Olympics and Paralympics by 2020 is aimed at advertising the product for future export overseas. It’s efficiency and use of hydrogen also makes it environment-friendly. According to a metropolitan government official, “Hydrogen could become a self-sufficient energy in the future, which would lead to solving energy problems.”