June 28, 2021
Expectations regarding wider use of fuel cell and other vehicles fueled by high-pressure gas (hereinafter fuel cell vehicles) are rising, with a view toward achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. However, fuel cell vehicles are regulated by two laws: the Road Transport Vehicle Act (under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism [MLIT]) and the High Pressure Gas Safety Act (under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry [METI]). There have been calls to revise the regulations into a streamlined system. METI has been considering an appropriate form for the regulations on fuel cell vehicles examining matters in terms of the Road Transport Vehicle Act as well as the High Pressure Gas Safety Act. It has now compiled an interim report. Through these efforts, it aims to create a future-oriented platform for the safety of a new hydrogen society.
- Fuel cell and other vehicles fueled by high-pressure gas (fuel cell vehicles) are currently regulated by two laws: the Road Transport Vehicle Act and High Pressure Gas Safety Act. There have been calls to streamline the regulations, and deliberations have been progressing accordingly.
- The government has announced that Japan aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and the use of hydrogen including fuel cell vehicles is of vital importance.
- In light of these circumstances, METI started convening a study group of experts this year to progressively examine matters with a view to excluding fuel cell vehicles from the scope of the High Pressure Gas Safety Act, and unifying the regulations under the Road Transport Vehicle Act.
- This review is expected to enhance convenience for users and the industrial competitiveness of companies, and to make the use of fuel cell vehicles widespread.
- METI has now compiled and hereby releases an interim report on the deliberations.
Key points in the interim report
- METI established a study group mainly comprised of academics and representatives from the automotive industry. Representatives from related industries (such as maintenance and container inspection industries) and related ministries and agencies (such as MLIT) also participated as observers. From a broad perspective, the members discussed appropriate forms for the regulations on fuel cell vehicles with a view toward unifying them under the Road Transport Vehicle Act.
- First, they defined the scope of the discussion to be standard-sized cars, small cars, and light vehicles with three wheels or more for which safety together with the vehicle as a whole can be ensured, and that are fueled by hydrogen, compressed natural gas (CNG), and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The members then decided on a policy whereby, in principle, all vehicles that fall under this scope will be regulated by the Road Transport Vehicle Act and excluded from the scope of the High Pressure Gas Safety Act.
- On this basis, they discussed points that required more detailed examination through safety verifications and other processes, and decided on the current policy for each point.
- For example, with regard to unifying vehicle inspections and container reinspections, METI is working on detailed system design in cooperation with MLIT with a view to enabling inspectors conducting a renewal inspection (vehicle inspection) based on the Road Transport Vehicle Act to also check details equivalent to those covered by a container reinspection specified in the High Pressure Gas Safety Act.
- Through these efforts, METI aims to create a future-oriented platform for the safety of a new hydrogen-based society.