*Editor’s note: This article was originally published on 5/30/2023 on Linkedin.
Greetings! It’s issue 56 of the “Japan Climate Curation” newsletter?!
You may be surprised at how many different energy solutions are available or being developed. Electric battery tankers, wind, geothermal, space-based solar, floating nuclear power plants, synthetic fuels, and more! I hope you find the curated articles below useful for reading (or skimming)!
?1?This electric tanker will transport clean energy with 96 batteries [5/29 electric]
PowerX, a Japanese startup, is addressing global renewable energy distribution issues by creating the world’s first electric battery tanker, “X,” to carry clean energy across oceans.
Designed for geographically disadvantaged regions, the tanker features 96 marine-grade batteries for a total capacity of 241 MWh, scalable for future enhancements. PowerX plans to manufacture grid-scale stationary, marine, and home batteries while establishing an ocean power grid.
A gigafactory, Power Base, will produce these solutions with an annual capacity of 5 GWh. The first “X” is planned for completion by 2025, with field testing the following year, backed by a partnership with Kyushu Electric Power Co and the City of Yokohama.
?2?Wind industry aims to provide a third of Japan’s power by 2050 [5/29 Reuters]
The Japan Wind Power Association (JWPA) aims to increase the country’s wind power capacity to 140 GW by 2050, providing a third of Japan’s electricity demand and supporting its carbon neutrality target.
Offshore wind energy is crucial for Japan’s renewable energy expansion, but progress has been delayed, and the government’s target of 45 GW by 2040 seems less ambitious than JWPA’s new targets.
The association emphasizes attracting foreign wind farm suppliers to invest in Japan and build local supply chains. Collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential to accelerate progress and create a competitive wind power industry. The installation of 40 GW of onshore wind farms, 40 GW of bottom-fixed offshore wind farms, and 60 GW of floating offshore wind farms are planned, with significant economic benefits and job creation expected.
JWPA Wind Vision 2023 (in Japanese)
?3?Japan’s Onomichi Dockyard leads $80m bet on floating nuclear plants [5/23 Nikkei Asia]
With the support of 13 Japanese companies, UK-based Core Power, including Onomichi Dockyard and Imabari Shipbuilding, is developing a floating nuclear power plant.
These floating plants offer advantages over conventional reactors, such as efficiency, safety, and lower cost. They can be stationed at any sea location, resist earthquakes, and withstand tsunamis.
The generated electricity can also produce hydrogen and ammonia, enhancing the plant’s value. Core Power, in partnership with TerraPower, Southern Company, and Orano, will utilize molten chloride fast reactors in this venture. The estimated launch is between 2030 and 2032.
?4?Japan to try beaming solar power from space in mid-decade [5/27 Nikkei Asia]
A Japanese public-private collaboration plans to trial space-based solar power technology by 2025, harnessing solar power collected in space and transmitting it to Earth using microwave radiation.
The concept, first proposed in 1968, aims to produce stable energy unaffected by earthly conditions such as the day-night cycle or weather.
This technology was previously tested successfully by researchers from Kyoto University. Ongoing projects hope to improve power transmission efficiency over large distances. However, competitors in the US, China, and Europe also work towards commercialization. Despite the cost challenge, interest in space-based solar power has surged due to global commitment towards net-zero carbon emissions.
?5?Japan’s hot-spring resorts are blocking geothermal energy plants [5/28 The Economist]
Despite Japan’s vast geothermal energy potential, stemming from over 100 active volcanoes, the development of geothermal power plants faces significant opposition from the country’s traditional hot-spring (onsen) industry.
Concerns about potential impacts on hot springs have deterred geothermal development, even though geologists believe the risks are minimal. Other barriers include the location of geothermal reserves within national parks and challenging underground geology.
The government is pursuing technological advances and aims to triple geothermal output by 2030, but progress still needs to be faster. Innovative solutions such as Cenergy’s approach, which benefits both onsens and geothermal power, may help unlock this untapped resource.
?6?Why long-range EVs are not the best climate solution [5/27 Axios]
The effectiveness of electric vehicles (EVs) in reducing pollution and decarbonizing the planet is debatable due to their weight and reliance on large batteries.
Heavier EVs pose safety risks and produce pollution through tire wear, road dust, and brakes. They also increase their dependence on China.
Hybrid vehicles rely less on battery power and are touted as a more efficient solution.
Toyota’s 1:6:90 rule exemplifies the argument: the materials for one long-range EV could instead produce six plug-in hybrids or 90 conventional hybrids, leading to a much greater carbon reduction overall.
Starting in 2026, the globally renowned endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will allow hydrogen-powered cars, as announced by Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest.
This landmark decision came during a 24-hour race at Japan’s Fuji Speedway that showcased hydrogen power.
Both fuel cells and hydrogen combustion engines will be featured in vehicles for Le Mans. Toyota Motor Corporation is expected to reveal its plans regarding participation in Le Mans soon.
?8?Alternative Fuels Take the Spotlight at Japan’s Super Taikyu Series [5/30 Bloomberg]
The Super Taikyu Series in Japan featured the world’s first liquid-hydrogen race car, developed by Toyota Motor Corp. This race highlighted the potential of carbon-neutral fuels such as liquid hydrogen and synthetic fuels for vehicle propulsion.
While hydrogen technology faces challenges, its quick adoption signifies the industry’s shifting focus. The race also heralded the future inclusion of hydrogen in Le Mans, the most prestigious endurance race.
Additionally, Toyota showcased Japan’s first domestically produced synthetic fuels, expected to become increasingly accessible, facilitating the retention of gasoline-powered cars during the global shift to electrification.
*Oil company tests synthetic fuel at Fuji Speedway [5/28 NHK WORLD-JAPAN News]
?9?With F1 return, Honda plays for carbon-neutral tech and U.S. fans [5/25 Nikkei Asia]
The Japanese automaker Honda Motor announced its fifth return to Formula One racing, leveraging the sport’s push towards green fuels and electrification.
Honda aims to boost its U.S. brand appeal and develop emissions-cutting technology through the competition. Beginning in 2026, the company will supply power units to the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team.
The decision comes partly due to new F1 regulations, aiming for net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Concurrently, Honda is developing its electric vehicles and “flying cars.” The increasing popularity of F1 in the U.S., Honda’s crucial market, also influenced this strategic move.
?10?Honda to double number of programmers to 10,000 by 2030 [5/29 Nikkei Asia]
Honda plans to double its software programmers to 10,000 by 2030, following Tesla’s software-driven model. To aid this increase, the Japanese automaker is strengthening its collaboration with Indian software developer, KPIT Technologies, resulting in a significant rise in software engineers within Honda.
Honda aims to create a software engineering team with internal and external experts as part of this software-centric shift. Concurrently, Toyota, another Japanese automaker, is also boosting its software engineering workforce to foster its electric vehicle and autonomous driving ventures.
As cars become more complex, software development emerges as a crucial aspect of competitiveness within the automotive industry.
?11?Toyota chair faces removal vote over governance issues [5/29 Financial Times]
?That’s all for this week! Thank you for reading(or skimming) ?. I hope you will have a wonderful week ahead!
ichi (Hiroyasu Ichikawa)
???? | Hiroyasu Ichikawa
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