(ATF) US oil major Chevron and Japanese carmaker Toyota have announced an agreement to jointly develop hydrogen, a major step by two corporate giants to transform fuel for transport.
The alliance is expected to focus on promoting hydrogen infrastructure, assessing the market for fuel-cell electric vehicles and the hydrogen supply that will be needed, and research and development of hydrogen powered transport and storage.
Chevron said the memorandum of understanding represents a "strategic alliance to catalyse and lead the development of commercially viable, large-scale businesses in hydrogen, with the goal to advance a functional, thriving global hydrogen economy".
Toyota has underscored its commitment to green energy by unveiling plans for its first global line-up of battery electric vehicles at this week's Shanghai motor show. The Chevron deal was "another important step towards building a hydrogen economy,” said Bob Carter, executive vice president of Toyota Motor North America.
“Combining Toyota’s decades of experience in developing hydrogen powered fuel-cell electric technology with Chevron’s deep resources in the energy sector has the potential to create new transportation choices for both consumers and businesses that move us toward our goal of carbon neutrality," he added.
Chevron, meanwhile, has faced pressure from environmentalists to match commitments by European oil giants like Royal Dutch Shell and Total, which have set targets to reach net-zero carbon emissions. In March, BP announced plans to develop a 1 gigawatt hydrogen production facility in the UK.
Earlier this month, the oil company prevailed in a legal action brought by New York City over its lack of climate change commitments.
A federal appeals court unanimously dismissed the city's climate change lawsuit against Chevron and a group of other energy producers, saying it was without merit and must be dismissed. The court said municipalities cannot “utilise state tort law to hold multinational oil companies liable for the damages caused by global greenhouse gas emissions".
Chevron said it has no plans to close down petrol stations. "We anticipate that [petrol] and diesel will continue to be important offerings that consumers will require," a company statement said.
At its annual meeting in May, Chevron is expected to battle against a number of shareholder proposals that require specific actions on climate change as well as a measure requiring more disclosure about the company's lobbying activities.
Toyota's enthusiasm partly reflects the Japanese government's attitude. Tokyo has set an ambitious goal for reducing greenhouse gases before the Group of Seven summit in June.
In November 2020, Japan said it would be carbon neutral by 2050 even as it plans to build more than a dozen new coal-burning power plants. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga laid out the goal just weeks after China, Japan’s regional rival, said it would reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2060.
The Toyota-Chevron deal is one of several new developments in the hydrogen fuel ecosystem. This month, Singapore-listed Nanofilm Technologies signed a deal with regional investment giant Temasek to invest in Sydrogen Energy.
Nanofilm said the joint venture would "potentially bring about a tipping point" in mass commercial adoption of hydrogen as a fuel source and fast-track the commercialisation path of a wide range of fuel-cell applications.
"The proposed partnership will feature heavily in our sustainability commitment, as we entrench our role as a critical supply chain player in the hydrogen economy, contribute to carbon neutrality and offer a sustainable energy source for the global economy," Nanofilm executive chairman Shi Xu said.