Japan Japan, METI releases interim report on regulations for fuel cell vehicles

Aiming to create a safe platform for a new hydrogen society and to resolve issues that have emerged as the introduction of fuel cell vehicles has expanded

On June 28, 2021, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) released an interim report on the state of regulations for fuel cell vehicles (FCV). In the report, current legal frameworks are reviewed from both legal and technical perspectives, and the rationality of the regulations is examined by considering not only the convenience of businesses but also the interests of consumers and society as a whole. Through these efforts, the goals are to improve user convenience and industrial competitiveness of companies, to further expand the use of fuel cell vehicles, and to create a future-oriented platform for the safety of a new hydrogen society.

Issues to be considered for the widespread use of fuel cell vehicles

Currently, FCV is regulated under the Road Transport Vehicle Act (under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism) and the High Pressure Gas Safety Act (under the jurisdiction of the METI), but as the spread of FCV and other vehicles continues, issues related to acts and regulations that were not anticipated have become apparent. In order to achieve 2050 carbon neutrality, it is very important to promote the use of hydrogen, including FCV, and it is necessary to solve the problems that have emerged and to study the issues of regulations for the use of hydrogen.

Future direction of regulations for fuel cell vehicles

  1. In principle, the safety of “vehicles” must be regulated by the Road Transport Vehicle Act, and the handling of “high pressure gas” shall be regulated by the High Pressure Gas Safety Act. However, the application of the High Pressure Gas Safety Act shall be exempted for items for which safety can be ensured as an integral part of the vehicle.
  2. The high pressure gas to be exempted from the High Pressure Gas Safety Act is assumed to be compressed hydrogen, compressed natural gas, and liquefied natural gas used as fuel to drive the power transmission system of ordinary motor vehicles, small-sized motor vehicles, and light-sized motor vehicles on public roads.
  3. As for the contents equivalent to the re-inspection of containers stipulated in the High Pressure Gas Safety Act, METI will proceed with the detailed system design in the direction of making it possible to confirm the contents at the time of continuous inspection based on the Road Transport Vehicle Act.
  4. In the direction of ensuring safety under the Road Transport Vehicle Act and exempting the application of the High Pressure Gas Safety Act, the final decision on the regulation of movement and consumption under the High Pressure Gas Safety Act for vehicles with a large capacity (300 m3 or more) of gas as fuel will be made based on the results of the safety verification.