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Press Conference by Minister Saito (Excerpt)

*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.

8:35-8:40 a.m.
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Third floor lobby, Annex to the House of Representatives


Question-and-Answer Session

Ammonia fuel power generation

Q: I would like to ask you about ammonia co-firing for thermal power generation. Next month, JERA plans to commence 20% co-firing of ammonia in Hekinan Thermal Power Station, but there is a cost problem and criticism from overseas arguing that it is a greenwashing scheme. Please explain your expectations for ammonia co-firing and your view on such problem and criticism.

A: First of all, in order to achieve carbon neutrality, the decarbonization of thermal power generation, which accounts for nearly 70% of power sources, is indispensable. Under the basic premise of ensuring a stable power supply, it is important to promote ammonia fuel power generation as one of the technologies for decarbonizing thermal power generation. As one important means for transition, we will start with co-firing first and will aim to achieve 100% ammonia thermal power generation in the future. At present, it is rather costly, but we would like to make efforts toward reducing cost both from the supply side and the demand side through technological development for its large-scale application in power generation and other areas, support measures focused on price gaps with existing raw materials and fuels, and creation of supply chains by supporting the development of relevant bases. I think that this is an important step in undertaking such a transition.

Cooperation with TSMC and partnership between Rapidus and Tenstorrent

Q: I have questions regarding two points related to semiconductors.
First, I heard that a senior executive of TSMC paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Kishida yesterday and emphasized the company's intention to create supply chains for semiconductors in Kyushu in cooperation with the government of Japan. What do you think of this? Second, it is said that Rapidus plans to make an announcement about cooperation on the production of semiconductors for edge AI devices as early as this afternoon. Could you also explain your view and expectations regarding this news?

A: Yesterday, Dr. Mark Liu, Chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TCMC), paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Kishida, expressed his gratitude for the support that the government of Japan has offered so far, and presented the company's commitment to contributing to the innovation of Japanese companies and creating supply chains in Kyushu. I think that it was a very meaningful opportunity as it enabled us to reconfirm future collaboration between TSMC and the government of Japan. In creating supply chains with TSMC, I recognize that promoting procurement from local companies is one of the challenges. The application form for gaining authorization based on the 5G Promotion Act contained the statement that JASM will endeavor to achieve over 50% of domestic procurement. We will carefully follow up on its efforts.
Regarding the second point, Rapidus and Tenstorrent signed a memorandum of cooperation last November. Both companies will cooperatively proceed with the design and development project for AI semiconductors being implemented by the Leading-edge Semiconductor Technology Center (LSTC), which was established for the purpose of technological development of next-generation semiconductors beyond 2 nm. METI decided to provide support for the project on February 9 this year.
In the announcement scheduled this afternoon, I understand that concrete explanations will be provided about the progress of the collaboration between Rapidus and Tenstorrent. For details, please direct any inquiries to the companies.
I hope that the partnership between Rapidus and Tenstorrent will create demand for semiconductors beyond 2 nm and accelerate Rapidus's efforts for acquiring customers.

Last updated:2024-02-27