The Nikkei reports that the Japanese government will ease regulations on hydrogen refueling stations, with the goal of making the refueling points less costly to set up and to operate in the hope of spurring the adoption of fuel cell vehicles.
Setting up a hydrogen station costs 400 million yen to 500 million yen ($3.5 million to $4.4 million), and operating one costs 40 million yen to 50 million yen per year, according to METI. The body aims to have both setup and operating costs slashed in half by 2020 through development of lower-cost facilities and loosened regulations.
According to the report, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will revise about 20 points in rules governing the facilities by 2018.
As of the end of August, Japan had 91 hydrogen stations in operation. The government aims to have 160 up and running by fiscal 2020 and to have 320 by fiscal 2025.
One step in the regulatory easing will be lowering operating costs by loosening the requirements for station supervisors. Those supervisors currently must have experience at a facility that handles hydrogen, but in the future, experience with natural gas and other high-pressure gases will suffice, according to the report.
Stations will also no longer be required to have an employee who takes down cars’ license plates and keeps track of who buys hydrogen, a change that should cut labor costs.
METI will also reevaluate safety standards by fiscal 2019, incorporating the latest technology and knowledge to avoid overly strict rules.