Carbon neutral Hydrogen to star in Tokyo 2020 Olympics


Photo by Bryan Turner on Unsplash

The Olympic cauldron, for the first time in Olympic history will be powered with hydrogen and will expectedly shine a new light on the opportunities for clean energy in Japan and across the planet.

Hydrogen is being used for the first time to fuel the Olympic torch during its journey through Japan for Tokyo 2020, marking the Olympic Movement’s commitment to a more sustainable future.

The lighting of the Olympic cauldron formally marks the end of the torch relay and symbolises the continuity between the ancient and modern games.

The torch relay that began in Fukushima on March 26 will visit all 47 of Japan’s prefectures before the lighting of the cauldron for the opening ceremony of Tokyo 2020, on July 24.

Hydrogen can have a vital role to play in the transition to carbon-free societies as it is light, storable and transportable gas which causes no emissions when produced with renewable energy.

“It currently offers some of the best potential to reduce or eliminate emissions from airlines, shipping and industry. As the world grapples to adapt to a heating planet, hydrogen is widely seen as a vital ingredient for a future that is climate-friendly and energy-efficient,” said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in a release.

With hydrogen’s popularity as a renewable energy source growing in momentum in politics and business, Japan is taking the lead to show the way forward to a hydrogen-based society.

It is one of the first countries to adopt a national hydrogen strategy in 2017, it is giving hydrogen a starring role at Tokyo 2020.

“With their immense reach and visibility, the Olympic Games are a great opportunity to demonstrate technologies which can help tackle today’s challenges, such as climate change,” said Marie Sallois, Director for Corporate and Sustainable Development at the International Olympic Committee in a release.

“Tokyo 2020’s showcasing of hydrogen is just one example of how these Games will contribute to this goal,” she added.

For the games alone about 500 hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles will be used to run from July 24 to August9.

Further, since the Olympics will be home to thousands of athletes for several weeks, the Olympic Village is to be a showcase of how hydrogen technology can be used.

The village has been built as a miniature hydrogen city where the renewable gas will not only power athlete buses it will also heat water in the cafeterias, dormitories, and training facilities.

After the Games, underground pipes will take hydrogen from a production station to residential blocks. Organisers hope the Olympic Village, as Japan’s first full-scale hydrogen infrastructure, will leave an impression on future generations.

Also, Japan is using the Olympic Games as an opportunity to accelerate the growth of its hydrogen ambitions. Under Japan’s hydrogen vision, the country has set a target of 800,000 fuel cell vehicles by 2030 and a network of filling stations. There are currently 135 hydrogen refuelling stations in Japan, more than any other country.

Shampa Bahadur has been a business journalist for more than two decades. She has written for Business India, PTI Media TransAsia and India Infrastructure Publication Ltd among others. She has also written coffee table books. She can be reached at

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