Japan will open eight hydrogen filling stations this spring for use with fuel cell vehicles, taking the total across the country to 100, the industry ministry said Friday.

It will become the first country in the world to set up 100 such stations, while Germany had around 40 and the United States about 30 as of January, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

From March to April, the eight stations will open in five prefectures -- Hokkaido, Fukushima, Kanagawa, Gifu, and Okayama -- as the country aims to make hydrogen an energy source that is more widely available, the ministry said.

Fuel cell vehicles, or FCVs, combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity which powers an electric motor. Unlike conventional vehicles running on gasoline or diesel, FCVs emit only water and heat. Toyota and Honda are among automakers to offer models using fuel cell technology.

While the government aims to put around 40,000 FCVs on public roads by 2020, the high cost of establishing hydrogen filling stations, estimated at 400 million to 500 million yen ($3.8 million to 4.8 million) each, has been considered a barrier to the take up of FCVs.

The government plans to have some 160 hydrogen filling stations available for commercial use by fiscal 2020.