• Japan looking to innovate to meet 2050 decarbonisation target

    Date posted:

    • Post Author

      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Japan’s aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and the opportunities and challenges the target presents has been examined by the Financial Times. As a nation, Japan’s slow-footedness in the digital economy led to “years of soul-searching about whether the country lost its edge”, but the advanced engineering challenge and long-term investment of changing energy systems is seen as one the country should be good at.

Two technologies that have already had at least a decade of research are hydrogen (particularly for the automotive sector) and solid state batteries, which Toyota believes will offer considerably more range, a faster ability to charge, and no need of cooling – though a viable product is not expected until after 2025. For the power sector as a whole, Japan has increased its share of renewables from 10% to 20% over the last decade, although fossil fuel use has also increased as nuclear power has been shut down following the Fukushima disaster.

The nuclear industry might be revived to help decarbonise the economy, but hydrogen, ammonia and carbon capture and storage are also expected to play key roles. While the article discusses Japan’s relative paucity of domestic fuels, and the difficulties that its terrain and geography pose for renewables deployment, it does not touch on Japan’s efforts to develop methane hydrates as a domestic fuel source. This may be due to a strategic fall in interest in the fuel as a result of a heightened emphasis on decarbonisation, although as late as September last year there was a report that Japanese and US teams were working together to study the production of gas from methane hydrate extracted from permafrost in Alaska.

The report suggested that Japan is planning to test production in the Pacific Ocean in 2023 or later, with an aim to start commercial operations in 2027.