Decarbonization of ports on the agenda to reduce CO2 emissions in Japan

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo, Japan.

The government will begin formulating plans for the decarbonization of 125 major ports across the country, including those in Yokohama and Kobe, focusing on expanding the use of hydrogen, which emits no carbon dioxide when burned.

The plan will be positioned as a key policy to achieve the government’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and to realize a decarbonized society.

Power plants, oil refineries, steel mills and chemical plants, which account for most of the country’s CO2 emissions, are currently concentrated near ports throughout the country.

In the Green Growth Strategy announced in December last year, the government included the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at ports to virtually zero by 2050.

Currently, the use of diesel generators by ships at anchor in Japan accounts for about 40% of greenhouse gas emissions at ports. To reduce those emissions, the focus will be on constructing new facilities to supply electricity to ships using hydrogen and other energy sources.

The government hopes to introduce hydrogen-powered cranes and other cargo-handling equipment as well as fuel cell heavy-duty trucks. It is also eyeing the development of hydrogen storage facilities and digitizing the port system to reduce truck idling times.

A ¥2 trillion fund will be established to support the development of decarbonization technologies by businesses.

It is envisioned that CO2 emissions will be reduced at steel mills by powering them with hydrogen and at coal-fired power plants by using a process in which vaporized ammonia is mixed with coal and burned.

One of the impediments that the government and businesses face is that many of the technologies for decreasing CO2 emissions have not yet been put into practical use.

By requiring each port to formulate a decarbonization plan, the government hopes to encourage companies to cooperate, such as by jointly procuring and using hydrogen and ammonia.

The government will hear the opinions of experts by the end of this fiscal year and formulate guidelines for the plan.

The guidelines will call on local governments that manage ports to estimate CO2 emissions and the demand for hydrogen and ammonia at each port. Then, they will be asked to consider specific measures to reduce CO2 emissions and set up forums for consultations with the central government, electric power companies and other firms located at ports, and formulate a plan after fiscal 2022.

Japan and the United States agreed at their leaders’ summit in April to work together on efforts to decarbonize ports.