An amalgamation of Japanese industry leaders has announced the beginning of a public-private partnership to test an end-to-end low-carbon hydrogen (H2) supply chain, aiming to use H2 produced from renewable energy to power forklifts.

The partnership, which was announced in September, consists of the Kanagawa Prefectural Government, the municipal governments of the cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki, along with three additional private sector companies who have not been named.

The experiment will use electricity generated at the Yokohama City Wind Power Plant to electrolyse H2 which will be compressed, stored and transported to four separate sites, such as warehouses, where the H2 will then be used in fuel cells to power forklifts.

Twelve forklifts will operate in the experiment, which emit zero CO2 during operation. They can fully refuel in just three minutes and can operate consistently for up to eight hours.

First of their kind

H2 fuelling trucks, supplied by industrial gas company Iwatani, will transport the gas and are the first of their kind for the North Pacific rim country. They each have a capacity of 270 Nm3.

This low-carbon H2 supply chain is expected to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by at least 80%, compared to a supply chain using forklifts which are typically powered by gasoline or grid electricity.

The project’s aim is to establish a H2 supply chain, investigate costs and estimate potential CO2 reductions that can be achieved with a fully fledged supply chain in the future. 

Trial operations of this project are scheduled to being later this year, with a full-scale roll-out being implemented in fiscal year 2017.

The project will be carried out at facilities in Tokyo Bay in Yokohama and Kawasaki, with support from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment.