Apartment blocks at the former Olympic village in Tokyo will begin receiving hydrogen via pipeline from tomorrow (Friday), to generate electricity for lighting and elevators in communal areas — as part of a joint venture involving Panasonic, Toshiba, Eneos and Tokyo Gas.

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Some of the waste heat from the buildings’ five fuel cells will be used to produce hot water for outdoor pet-paw washing stations.

A new hydrogen refuelling station for buses and private vehicles — run by Eneos, Japan’s largest oil company — was opened yesterday (Wednesday) as part of the five-year project.

The 24 buildings at the Harumi Flag development, containing 5,632 homes, are connected to the electricity grid, so the project is purely an exercise in trialling a new technique that would only really be useful in the event of a power cut.

Delivery of the hydrogen — the source of which is not specified, so it is likely to be derived from fossil fuels or as a by-product from chemical processes — will be via a 1km underground pipeline from the filling station.

The joint venture was formed back in February 2018 between the Tokyo city administration, Panasonic, Toshiba, Toshiba Energy Systems, Tokyo Gas, Harumi Eco Energy and Eneos.

“The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is promoting initiatives aimed at creating a city that will become a model of an environmentally advanced city, such as taking the lead in introducing hydrogen as energy source for the city at the site of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village,” explains a press release from the municipality.