Building hydrogen stations across Japan by Tokyo Olympics Interview with Shozo Kudo, an LDP lower house member  

東京五輪までに全都道府県にステーション配置 ―工藤彰三・自民党衆院議員に聞く―

  Products using hydrogen energy are becoming familiar in Japan. Among them are "Mirai," a fuel cell vehicle (FCV) which Toyota Motor Corp. began selling at the end of last year and “Ene Farm,” a household fuel-cell cogeneration system developed and marketed by Tokyo Gas Co. Hakumon Herald interviewed Shozo Kudo, a Liberal Democratic member of the House of Representatives, to ask about the potentiality of hydrogen as an energy source and problems its utilization may pose. Kudo, a graduate of Chuo University’s Faculty of Commerce, serves as a manager of his party’s “Study Group on Realization of Hydrogen Society Evolving around FCVs”. The group is energetically pushing its campaign, defining 2015 as the first year of what it calls the “hydrogen era.”




-How was your study group launched?




Kudo: When I was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, I participated in a scheme to incept the group at the invitation of my old friend Mineyuki Fukuda, also an LDP lower house member. Our initial activity was only in a small scale. But the number of participants has been increasing recently. Now the group has more than 100 LDP lawmakers as its full members.


工藤 2012年に私が衆議院議員に初当選した際に、以前から親交のあった同じく自民党の衆院議員、福田峰之先生に誘われてこの研究会の立ち上げに参加しました。初めは小規模で活動をしていましたが、最近では研究会の参加者も増え、現在では100人以上の自民党議員が参加しています。


-Why did participants increase so rapidly?





Kudo: After all, the biggest impact was the debut of FCV. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trial run of Mirai triggered the enthusiasm within the party to promote utilization of hydrogen.


工藤 やはり、FCVの影響が大きいです。安倍晋三総理が「MIRAI」に試乗したことをきっかけに、水素利用を促進する流れが党内で生まれました。


-What does your group do specifically?




Kudo: We host symposiums on hydrogen society and utilization of hydrogen, and our members meet once a week. We are joined by other lawmakers, government officials and corporate representatives in our regular meetings. We can get our business running quickly as we talk about relevant matters such as necessary deregulation and latest technologies all at once.


 工藤 水素社会や水素利用に関するシンポジウムを開いたり、週に1回、勉強会を行ったりしています。勉強会では議員、中央官庁の役人、企業の代表がともに学習しています。必要な規制緩和や最新の技術などについて一度に話し合うことができるため、物事を早く進めることができます。


-Isn’t hydrogen risky at all?




Kudo: I think its risks are low. For example, full safety considerations have been given to an FCV. The car has been so designed as its hydrogen tank won’t be damaged even when it collides at a speed of 80 km per hour.


工藤 危険性は低いと思います。FCVは、仮に時速80キロで衝突しても、水素タンクに影響しないように設計されているなど、安全面には細心の配慮がなされています。


-What merits will a hydrogen society bring about?




Kudo: It can contribute to realizing a sustainable society because hydrogen does not generate carbon dioxide when it is used as fuel energy. In addition, a stockpile of electricity generated by hydrogen can be supplied to hospitals and other facilities in need of power at a time of disaster. According to our preliminary calculation, such stockpile can meet a hospital’s emergency power needs for three days.


 工藤 水素はエネルギーとして利用する際、二酸化炭素を排出しないため、持続可能な社会の現に貢献することができます。加えて、災害時に緊急に電力が必要となる病院などの施設に、水素発電で備蓄した電力を供給することができます。試算では、病院が緊急時に必要な電力を3日間、賄うことができます。


-At present, hydrogen stations are concentrated in urban areas. How do you plan to have them set up in provincial towns as well?




Kudo: We see the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 as an opportunity to showcase our hydrogen society to the world. We plan to have hydrogen stations installed in the capitals of all 47 prefectures by that year. At the present stage, the hydrogen infrastructure is most advanced in the areas around Tokyo, particularly Kanagawa Prefecture and vicinity.

工藤 私たちが、水素社会を世界に示す機会と捉えている東京オリンピックが開催される2020年までには、47都道府県全ての県庁所在地に水素ステーションを設置する予定です。現段階では、首都圏、特に神奈川県周辺のインフラが最も整っています。


-Do you see any obstacles in promoting the installation of hydrogen stations?




Kudo: I think the country’s tight regulations pose some problems. Under the current regulations, no one can have such station unless he or she has a large tract of land. With the present rules, there will be little progress in the downtown where land prices are high. I think an efficient way will be easing the regulations and adding the function of a hydrogen station to an existing gas station. In any case, FCVs won’t become popular unless more hydrogen stations are put in place. So, their construction must be promoted both in urban and rural areas.


 工藤 厳しい規制が課題となっていると思います。現在の規制基準では、広い土地を有していないと水素ステーションを設置できません。この基準では、地価の高い都心では設置が進みにくい状況です。私はこの規制を緩和し、既存のガソリンスタンドに水素ステーションの機能を追加するのが効率的ではないかと思います。いずれにしても、水素ステーションの設置が進まないと、FCVも普及しないため、都市部、地方ともに設置促進が必要です。


-Hydrogen fuel is now retailed for about 1,000 yen per kilogram. Is the reduction of the price possible?




Kudo: Yes, I see it as possible. I think the price will go down by 2020. But there a lot of parts that require high technologies, including the metal fabricated into the hose which is used when filling an FCV’s hydrogen tank. They can be dangerous unless they are produced in Japan. So the cost reduction needs to be pushed with due heed to their safety.


 工藤 可能だと思います。2020年までには下がると思います。ただ、FCVに水素を充填するホースに使用される金属など、高度な技術を求められる部品が多く、これらは日本製でないと危険です。こうした安全性を考慮しながらのコストダウンが求められます。


-How much progress has been made in the development of such technologies?




Kudo: Technical innovations are being accelerated. For instance, Chiyoda Corp. has developed what it calls "Spera hydrogen" technology which liquefies hydrogen to allow for its mass transit. Also, I see it desirable for companies to spend their internal reserves for such activity because that will help invigorate the economy.


 工藤 千代田化工建設が水素を液化し、大量運搬を可能にする「SPERA水素」を開発するなど、技術革新は加速しています。また、こうした活動に設備投資として、企業の内部留保金が使用されることは、経済を活性化するためにも好ましいことだと思います。

(Interviewed by: Takaaki Araki)


Mr. Kudo’s profile



Born in Aichi Prefecture in December 1964, he graduated from Chuo University’s Faculty of Commerce. He was elected to the Nagoya Municipal Assembly in April 2003 and to the House of Representatives in December 2012. He is deputy chief of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Land & Transport Subcommittee.


昭和39128日愛知県名古屋市生まれ。中央大学商学部卒。平成154月 名古屋市会議員当選。平成2412月 衆議院議員当選。自由民主党 国土交通副部会長。