In FY 2021, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will start preparations for building a base for collecting and transporting CO2 discharged from Kansai Electric Power’s Maizuru coal-fired power plant (Maizuru, Kyoto) to Tomakomai, Hokkaido.
METI will earmark 6.5 billion yen for the initiative in the FY 2021 budget request. It will also establish the necessary technology for safe transportation of CO2. The ministry hopes to start actual sea transportation by FY 2024.
It is part of an initiative known as “CCUS (Carbon capture, utilization, and storage),” which aims at reducing CO2 emissions by recycling or burying CO2 underground. One motive for the government’s plan is its desire to alleviate criticism of its continued coal-powered power generation by turning CO2 into a reusable resource.
An experiment has been underway in Tomakomai since 2016. In the experiment CO2 discharged from oil refineries is buried in the offshore seabed. The amount of the stored CO2 has already reached the initial target of 300,000 tons. METI is also formulating a plan to synthesize methanol from discarded CO2 so that it can be utilized as a resource. Domestic CO2 emissions would be reduced once technology is established to transport CO2 by sea from the site of discharge to a remote site well-suited for underground storage.
It is costly to recover CO2, however. Technical challenges include controlling during transportation the pressure of liquified CO2, which is gas in a normal state. Because it is difficult for the private sector to achieve safe CO2 transportation on its own, the government will support the necessary technological innovation.
The Norwegian government recently announced that it will fund a a project to transport CO2 by sea.
Today, the global community is giving considerable attention to CCUS initiatives, and attempts to reduce CO2 emissions are being undertaken worldwide.