Toyota Motor Corp. is assisting the Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency (FRA) with its plans to develop a fishing boat powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

The first vessel will be a small boat to be used for tuna farming and is expected to go into commercialisation in 2022.

Speaking exclusively to gasworld, FRA President Masanori Miyahara explained the reasons behind the project, “A small, rural island called Goto has a lot of problems including diminishing population, high living and energy costs, and limited income sources.”

“The island built a wind farm power plant at sea, but cannot use the produced electricity by itself. Then it also built a facility to produce hydrogen by use of the electricity, but no significant users exist in the island.”

“If the local businesses, such as fishing and fish farming, can use this locally produced energy, the island doesn’t have to buy high-priced oil, but can benefit from its own energy source.”

“The hydrogen-powered fishing vessel will be used every morning and evening for commuting between fishing ports and farming grounds for feeding, maintenance, selection of fish, harvesting and other farming activities.”

Toyota told gasworld it is giving the FRA technical advice upon request, but there are no specific agreements such as providing fuel cell systems at this point.