Model Sites for Carbon Capture, Storage Selected by Japan Govt

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry has selected seven sites in Japan and abroad for model projects to commercialize carbon capture and storage, or CCS, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. The government, which is seeking to establish a business model for CCS, will provide necessary support to the projects starting in fiscal 2023.

CCS, a collection of technologies used to capture CO2 and in most cases store it underground, results in reduced CO2 emissions. It is considered a potential game changer in tackling global warming.

Five of the seven selected sites are in Japan. They are located off the coast of Kyushu, where a joint project is planned by ENEOS Corp. and the Electric Power Development Co.; off the coast of Hokkaido, where a project is under consideration by Idemitsu Kosan Co.: and in Tohoku, Niigata and the Tokyo metropolitan area. The two overseas sites are in waters off Malaysia and in the Oceania region. All projects are led by Japanese companies and aim to capture CO2 from thermal power plants and oil refineries and transport it by ship or pipeline for storage.

Although CCS technology has been put to practical use overseas since the 1990s, it remains in an experimental phase in Japan due to huge initial costs amounting to several tens of billions of yen, which makes it difficult to secure a profit.

The industry ministry, aiming to speed up commercialization of CCS in Japan, publicly solicited model projects for government support in April.

A committee of experts then narrowed down the options to the seven locations, after carefully examining CO2 capture and transport methods, storage areas and other factors.

The government has set a goal of storing 6-12 million tons of CO2 underground annually by 2030. If the seven sites become operational, approximately 13 million tons of CO2, equivalent to more than 1% of Japan’s annual CO2 emissions, will likely be stored in fiscal 2030.

The companies participating in each project will sign an outsourcing contract with the Japan Organization for Metals and Energy Security, an incorporated administrative body under the jurisdiction of the industry ministry. In fiscal 2023, they will work on designs of CO2 capture facilities and surveys to select storage areas.

Japan has set a goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, which means virtually zero CO2 emissions. According to calculations by the ministry, in order to achieve the goal, a storage capacity of around 120-240 million tons per year will be needed.

The Yomiuri Shimbun