Olympic village to be 1st 'hydrogen town'

Olympic village to be 1st 'hydrogen town'

The Tokyo metropolitan government has decided that the Athletes' Village for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be made into a "hydrogen town" where electricity and hot water are supplied through hydrogen energy, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

After the Tokyo Olympics are over, the electricity and hot water generated with hydrogen energy are expected to be furnished to a school, and commercial and other facilities to be constructed on the village site.

The plan is set to be the largest experiment employing the new energy source. The Tokyo government hopes to take advantage of the 2020 Olympics as an opportunity to advance the realisation of a society based on hydrogen energy.

Hydrogen filling stations will be constructed by 2020 in the Harumi district of Chuo Ward, Tokyo, where the Athletes' Village will also be located, according to a conceptual plan by the metropolitan government and others.

Pipes will be laid around the village to distribute hydrogen to housing facilities, training centers, cafeterias and others. Fuel cells installed at each station will generate electricity and heat through the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen in the air.

The pipes will be also used to charge the fuel cells of buses used to transport athletes and others during the event.

About 17,000 athletes and other guests will stay in the Athletes' Village, which will be the site of 22 accommodation buildings with 14 to 17 floors each. The housing facilities will be converted into condominiums or rental apartments for the general public after the Olympics. Two 50-story residential high-rises, a commercial complex and a school will be constructed in the area to establish a town with a population of about 10,000.

This month, the metropolitan government is set to begin accepting applications from private firms that want to submit business development plans for the Athletes' Village. The proposals will be required to incorporate the use of hydrogen energy.

However, there are still technical challenges to overcome before the plan can be realised. For instance, as huge volumes of hydrogen will be necessary, a new system must be developed to supply hydrogen to each facility in a stable but economical manner.

Hydrogen, which does not emit greenhouse gases when used to generate power, is considered a major next-generation energy source in the government's Basic Energy Plan.

Japan is regarded as a global leader in hydrogen energy technology. For example, a Japanese manufacturer was the first in the world to put a fuel-cell vehicle on the consumer market.

"The realisation of a hydrogen energy-based society is an important goal for the nation as we are poor in natural resources, and it also contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions," said Prof. Takeo Kikkawa of Hitotsubashi University, an expert in energy industries. "Though we still have quite a few technological challenges to resolve, the Tokyo Olympics is a great opportunity to promote the commercialization [of hydrogen energy]. And the Athletes' Village, which will be constructed from scratch, is ideal for conducting a large-scale experiment."

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