Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris hosted Japanese government officials this month in discussing pairing the city with a “smart” city in Japan which is equally devoted to integrating hydrogen into its power grid, fuel distribution, storage, and use.

Parris has committed to a hydrogen transition at previous City Council meetings and has challenged other cities around the world to choose hydrogen as well. Lancaster has a proven record of being the first in renewable energy solutions, demonstrating an ability to execute on energy initiatives. He has expressed confidence that Japan may be the first stop on a pathway for cities around the world to shift into using hydrogen.

Parris developed a vision for hydrogen as a new way to further decarbonize the city. Lancaster has since attracted companies that have already built innovative hydrogen projects and are being developed with major companies like Hitachi Zosen Inova.

“Hydrogen is the future, it is the decarbonization strategy of the future, and we will lead the effort with other cities following in Lancaster’s footsteps,” Parris told the delegation from Japan, which included the Consul of the Consulate General of Japan and the executive director of the Japan External Trade Organization. “Lancaster is America’s first hydrogen city.”

Lancaster is beginning sister-city type relationships with other cities seeking to emulate Lancaster’s strategy, sharing a roadmap. Mayor Parris envisions other Tier-2 cities as excellent candidates.

“The transition to hydrogen does not have to be limited to the world’s most famous large cities,” Parris added. “In fact, cities our size can do some things they can’t. Current plans include building out hydrogen fueling stations for light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles. We support the state’s goals for GHG reductions and hydrogen is a great way to get there faster.”

After the development of a huge solar generation capacity, Lancaster City Council realized that the City had the power to dramatically impact the energy status quo. Lancaster formed its own utility company, Lancaster Choice Energy, and offered residents locally-generated green energy at lower prices and generating revenue for the City. Lancaster is also the first city to go “net-zero,” generating more clean energy than consumed.

Lancaster was also the first city to require all new homes to have solar and with community partners were able to build the first large scale all-electric bus fleet.

Other projects in Lancaster include a gasification plant and Hitachi Zosen Inova’s $100 million anaerobic digestion plant which generates renewable natural gas (RNG) from organic waste for conversion to clean hydrogen.