The Japanese government on Tuesday decided on a plan to generate 15 trillion yen ($107 billion) of investment in the supply of hydrogen over the next 15 years from the public and private sectors in a push to increase its use and speed up decarbonization.

Under the revised Basic Hydrogen Strategy, approved at a meeting between relevant ministers, the country also plans to increase its hydrogen supply sixfold from the current level of 2 million tons to around 12 million tons by 2040.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno (2nd from R) speaks at a ministerial meeting on the government's hydrogen policy in Tokyo on June 6, 2023. (Kyodo)

Since hydrogen does not emit carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases when combusted, the utility sector can significantly cut emissions by mixing hydrogen with natural gas at thermal power plants, or by burning hydrogen as a fuel.

While it is hoped hydrogen will be used for various purposes, including as fuel for cars, challenges remain over its widespread adoption and use due to high production and transportation costs compared with conventional fuels such as coal.

"We would like to steadily build a supply chain for hydrogen in Asia and the Indo-Pacific region by further expanding Japan's (hydrogen) technology, which has been world-leading," Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told a press conference.

Through rolling out the strategy by 2040, the government hopes companies will be encouraged to get more actively involved in hydrogen initiatives, with the aim of realizing the commercialization of hydrogen power generation by 2030.

The government has already decided to grow the country's hydrogen supply to up to 3 million tons in 2030, increasing to around 20 million tons by 2050.

With Japan aiming for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, hydrogen will be a key driver in its plan to bring about a green transition, also known as "GX," an initiative to transform the current fossil fuel-based economy into one centered on cleaner energy.

Hydrogen can also power fuel cell vehicles, while the government also plans to support expanding the introduction of synthetic fuels and ammonia using hydrogen.

Separately, in Japan's latest energy white paper which was also released Tuesday, hydrogen was designated as a key material for pushing decarbonization in multiple sectors.

Hydrogen can also be used in carbon recycling -- one method being by producing renewable methanol from CO2 and hydrogen, which can be used as a more sustainable fuel and chemical than other alternatives.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said the government is eager to accelerate establishing international supply chains for providing more hydrogen by collaborating with Australia, as well as Middle Eastern and other Asian countries.

Japan established the hydrogen strategy in 2017 ahead of many other countries and is revising it following the development of hydrogen policy strategies by European nations and the United States.

File photo taken in April 2015 shows a hydrogen station for fuel-cell vehicles in Nisshin in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo