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MOE Symposium in Tokyo urges International Collaboration on Climate Innovation

29th February 2020

Urgency, international collaboration, and a circular economy and were key themes at the CCUS and Hydrogen Symposium – Towards a Carbon Neutral Society for Innovation in Climate Technology hosted by Japan’s Ministry of Environment. Over two days, the well-attended conference supported by the Global CCS Institute on behalf of the Ministry convened speakers from governments, the private sector, and nonprofits to discuss global and domestic approaches to achieving net-zero emissions and meeting climate goals, and foster momentum on international collaboration. The conference came on the heels of Japan’s recently formulated Groundbreaking Environmental Innovation Strategy, which was created based on the country’s Long-Term Strategy under the Paris Agreement (JP) and its Integrated Innovation Strategy (JP). The presentations covered a range of topics, including the imminent decarbonization of energy-intensive industries and transportation, as well as pioneering research and development in methanation technologies, green hydrogen, and carbon utilization.

In his welcoming remarks Mr. Tetsuya Yagi, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Environment reflected on the recent natural disasters emphasizing the urgency for climate action. He argued that “steadfast actions” including the commercialization of CCUS and hydrogen are necessary as agreed to at the G20 in Japan in 2019. The transition, however, must be driven collaboratively between governments, and with private sector action, while “the whole world must come together to address climate change”.

Focusing on advanced energy technologies such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) as well as hydrogen as the clean energy carrier of the future, the symposium offered a detailed analysis of Japan’s strategy for achieving climate goals while also featuring perspectives from Norway, Canada and the US. Japan’s goal is to accelerate the deployment of renewables in the electricity sector, while complementing them with CCUS facilities. In Japan, climate action is driven through a national government strategy, but more than 31 local communities also have their own plans. In fact, Tokyo, Japan’s capital, spelled out its net-zero emissions strategy only a few months ago.

Hydrogen is seen as an energy carrier that can be produced cleanly with both renewables and CCUS, while also bolstering the decarbonization of transportation and industry. Whilst several milestones of large-scale CCUS facilities such as Boundary Dam and the Northern Lights Full-Chain Project were discussed, the opportunities to harness the pressing commercialization of CCUS for the large-scale roll-out of clean hydrogen was of particular interest; speakers highlighted Japan’s plans to become a hydrogen society, European CCUS-hydrogen projects in power and home heating, as well as the United States’ ideal position to become a leader in CCUS and hydrogen coupling. In addition, intentions for offshore storage of CO2 including the transportation to storage sites by ship, as well as novel ways to permanently store CO2 via utilization were presented. The Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC), a full-scale CCUS project involving hydrogen production from natural resources in Australia’s Latrobe Valley, and shipping it to Japan, received particular attention, as it is not only a testament to international collaboration on clean energy innovation but the final investment decision is slated for later this year.

On the second day, an interactive panel discussion with keynote speakers focused on urgency and the rapid need to deploy CCUS and hydrogen at scale. Policy-mechanisms that create a business case for investment of CCS were subject of discussion by both the speakers as well as the audience; while Japan has a net-zero emissions strategy, it lacks specific policies to accelerate the deployment of CCS. As such, the discussion also touched on the different levers that have drawn investment to CCS including Norway’s carbon tax, the United States’ 45Q tax credits and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard CCS Protocol.

During the conference, MOE-supported projects were exhibited, which included a variety of hydrogen production and transportation methods, as well as carbon capture, direct air capture and CO2 utilization mechanisms.

Speakers included Dr. Hirofumi Aizawa, Director, Climate Change Projects Office, Global Environment Bureau, Ministry of the Environment, Japan, Prof. Michio Hashimoto, Osaka University, Karsten Stoltenberg, Country Manager, Equinor Japan, Per Brevik, Director Alternative Fuels, Heidelberg Cement (Norcem) and the Global CCS Institute’s Senior Advisor for Advocacy and Communications Lee Beck. The event was moderated by Dr. Makoto Akai, WPI Visiting Professor, International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I²CNER), Kyushu University. You can view all presentations of the Symposium here, and the agenda here. The website (in Japanese) can be accessed here: https://www.ccs-symposium.jp/

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