Green Innovations

Japan’s Commitment to Green Innovation

On October 26, 2020, Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide declared in a key policy speech to the National Diet that Japan aims to become a carbon-neutral, decarbonized society by 2050. At a press conference following that speech, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kajiyama Hiroshi commented; “Japan has adopted a new growth strategy of taking on the challenges of carbon neutrality to maximally invest of all our resources in creating a virtuous economic and the environmental cycle”.

Prime Minister Suga (left) delivering the key policy speech at the Diet and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kajiyama (right) holding a press conference on October 26.

Guiding Principles for Green Innovation Toward Carbon Neutrality in 2050

Japan will consider three guiding principles for leveraging green innovation to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050.

  1. Maximize the application and widespread adoption of existing green technologies while working on plans to bring new green innovations to wider society in a systematic and structured way.
  2. Recognize the key role of negative emission technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide given that even with energy saving, electrification, power source decarbonization, and hydrogen fuel initiatives, zero use of fossil fuels is probably unrealistic.
  3. Consider a wide range of policy options for industrial sectors where the decarbonization process is most challenging due to long-term uncertainties about technologies and approaches.

The graphic below provides a simple overview of the approach Japan is considering to reducing CO2 emissions.

Paths to carbon neutrality

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the Ministry of the Environment, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications drafted the following paths to carbon neutrality in key areas.

Hydrogen

Accelerate research and development and verification, create social implementation systems, and collaborate internationally so Japanese industries can lead the world in using, storing, transportation, and producing hydrogen.
Example of key goal: Drive costs to below those of LNG by 2050

Automobiles & storage batteries

Leverage a range of automotive electrification policy tools aligned with vehicle usage to help strengthen the industrial competitiveness of storage batteries. Such tools include R&D support, verification testing, capital investment, institutional framework assessments, and international standardization collaboration.
Example of key goal: Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to account for 20% to 30% of new passenger car sales by 2030

Carbon Recycling

Carbon Recycling is a technology that effectively utilizes CO2 as a resource, and is a key technology for realizing a carbon-neutral society. Seek to reduce the costs of concrete and fuels,etc, that absorb carbon dioxide by undertaking R&D and demonstration testing. At the same time, foster social implementation, including through public procurement, deploying efforts globally.
Example of key goal: Reduce the price of carbon dioxide-absorbing concrete to the same level as existing products in 2030

Offshore wind power

Offshore wind power is a vital potential source of renewable energy. The Japanese government’s announcement of plans for the domestic roll out offshore wind power should create tremendous demand. Attract the wind power industry to Japan on the strength of such demand while enhancing the competitiveness of domestic suppliers and building a resilient supply chain. Also, develop technologies and undertake international collaboration with a view to deploying floating platforms and other advanced technologies across Asia.
Example of key goal: Undertake public-private consultations, through which national government commits to deployment forecasts, with private sector committing to domestic procurement rate and cost targets

Semiconductors and telecoms

Digitalization and electrification are vital in manufacturing, services, and numerous other fields to streamline energy use. Foster digital transformation initiatives while supporting an information and communications infrastructure that underpins digitization and electrification, including data centers, high-performance computing, and 5G, Beyond 5G, and fiber-optic technologies. Also provide support through energy conservation, green-ification, and advanced performance for semiconductors and other devices.
Example of key goal: Implement and expand adoption of advanced power semiconductors by 2030

Aviation

With demand rising worldwide for low-carbon aircraft, establish a superior technological position for Japan through R&D, technological demonstrations, and international collaboration, notably in reducing weight, driving electrification, and employing hydrogen and alternative fuels, and push ahead with carbon neutrality efforts in aviation.
Example of key goal: Drive the adoption of carbon-neutral aircraft employing Japanese technologies and fuels by 2050

Fuel ammonia

Towards carbon neutral society in 2050, technology development and establishment of supply chain of Fuel ammonia will be realized, in order to utilize CO2 emissions-free ammonia when it is burned for co-firing in thermal power generation. Overseas deployment of Fuel ammonia will be also realized through public system development and international collaboration.
Example of key goal: 20 % ammonia co-firing in coal-fired power generation by 2030

Nuclear power innovations

Maintain stable supplies of carbon-free electricity while drawing on nuclear power innovations to accommodate various societal needs. These needs include enhancing safety, reliability, and efficiency, coexisting with renewable energy, producing carbon-free hydrogen, and utilizing heat output.
Examples of key goals: Demonstrate small modular reactor technology based on international collaboration by 2030, establish component technology for hydrogen production in high-temperature gas-cooled reactors, also by 2030, and steadily undertake R&D through ITER, an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject, and other international collaboration

Shipping

Promote development and hold demonstrations of engines, fuel tanks, and other components of ships using LNG, hydrogen, ammonia, and other gases as fuel that are essential for achieving zero emissions. The government also proactively contributes to the development of international regulations. These measures will make Japan’s shipbuilding and shipping sectors more globally competitive and attaining carbon neutrality in marine transportation.
Examples of key goals: Practical realization of zero-emission ships by 2028 and conversions to alternative fuels like hydrogen and ammonia in the shipping sector by 2050

Houses and Buildings

There are two main priorities. First, improve the thermal insulation and energy efficiency of new houses and buildings, promote LCCM (houses and buildings that generate negative carbon dioxide emissions across their lifecycles, from construction to demolitions and reuse), ZEH (net zero energy house) and ZEB (net zero energy building). Create evaluation techniques that contribute to such promotion. Help develop and practicalize building materials, construction techniques, energy management, and other innovative technologies. Promote house and building renovations to be more energy efficient, with a view to converting to ZEH and ZEB. Foster the deployment of solar cells, including those integrated in building materials and interconnected with electric vehicles and storage batteries.
Second, support the development of wooden buildings that incorporate pioneering design and construction techniques and help train designers of medium-sized and large wooden buildings.
Examples of key goals: Priority 1: Houses and buildings to be ZEH and ZEB on average by fiscal 2030
Priority 2: Help absorb 5.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in fiscal 2030

Logistics and people flows

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in green logistics, smart transportation, railroads, ports and harbors, and airports and undertake measures across transportation modes. (Under consideration)
Example of key goal: Under consideration

Infrastructure

Undertake a range of efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions from infrastructure. These include rolling out district heating and cooling systems that recover heat from urban sewage systems. Other measures include regulating road infrastructure traffic flows, switching to LED street lighting, installing renewable power plants, and developing and popularizing innovative construction machinery for electric power, hydrogen, and biomass facilities.
Example of key goal: Reduce carbon dioxide emissions around 1.34 million metric tons by 2030 by conserving energy and using renewable energy in sewage systems

Resource recycling

Step up reduce, reuse, and recycle initiatives while harnessing more renewable energy to lower waste emissions, enhance the sophistication and efficiency of recycling processes, create biomass from products, and otherwise recycle resources. Also, recover energy from waste that has to be incinerated and separate, store, and effectively use greenhouse gases from waste treatment.
Example of key goal: Cut greenhouse gas emissions from waste to virtually zero by 2050

Lifestyles

Generate demand for carbon neutrality and drive technological penetration. Get there by developing and demonstrating technologies, supporting their introduction, and establishing systems to materialize resilient, comfortable, and decarbonized lifestyles, constructing zero-carbon cities through a management approach that comprehensively integrates net zero energy houses, electric and fuel cell vehicles, and renewable energy, as well as digital nudging and other techniques to change behavior.
Example of key goal: Average households to become decarbonized energy prosumers by or before 2050

Food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and carbon dioxide sinks

Towards carbon neutrality in 2050 by procuring raw materials and energy and taking measures at each stage of the supply chain, from food production through consumption, to establish a sustainable food system. Accordingly harness innovations to balance productivity gains and sustainability and expand social implementation. Efforts would include establishing energy systems for local production and consumption, eliminating emissions by accelerating the adoption of smart practices in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural and livestock producers. Other steps would be to create technologies for long-term, mass carbon storage in farmlands forests and oceans, reduce losses in processing and distributing food and agricultural, forestry, and fisheries products, and foster sustainable consumption.
Example of key goal: Eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels in agriculture, forestry and fisheries by 2050