Report: Japan considering relaxing regulations hampering smaller filling stations from adding EV charging
The Nikkei reports that the Japanese government will relax restrictions that hamper many smaller filling stations from adding electric vehicle charging terminals.
Japan’s fire safety law strictly regulates where fueling stations can install plug-in points on their premises, the report said. Currently, charging and refueling stations for electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles must be about 10 meters away from a fuel pump. This restriction limist how many of these vehicles small stations could accommodate.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is considering allowing filling stations to install charging terminals alongside pumps, regardless of space. The code would be relaxed on a trial basis while monitoring safety, with pilot programs likely to be conducted in special deregulation zones.
METI will set up a study group that includes representatives from the oil and gas industries, and field opinions from the Fire and Disaster Management Agency and retailers. The ministry will publish a course of action by May, with the aim of loosening restrictions as soon as fiscal 2019.
METI is also considering changes that allow filling stations to add convenience stores, supermarkets and package delivery depots near their pumps.
Gas stations are also legally obligated to have at least one employee present at all times, even at self-fueling stations. METI will also consider completely unmanned gas stations, where pumps are remotely monitored with information technology tools.
Fuel supply tanks at filling stations currently must be installed underground, but modified rules would also allow tanks to be placed above ground.
There are about 23,000 electric vehicle charging terminals in operation in Japan, along with approximately 100 hydrogen stations. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is aiming for 320 hydrogen stations by fiscal 2025.