J-Power will start the development of new technology to store carbon dioxide (CO2) underground. The storage of CO2 closer to the earth’s surface and in a particular state, unlike that of conventional storage technology, will cut collection and storage costs of CO2 emitted in thermal power plants. As the global drive for “decarbonization” gains momentum, J-Power aims to establish storage technology to decrease the industrial sector’s CO2 emissions.
The next-generation technology to collect and store CO2 beneath the seabed is called “carbon capture and storage (CCS).” CCS is thought to be an essential technology to realize the Japanese government’s goal to reduce greenhouse gases effectively to zero by 2050. The use of CCS will enable the use of thermal power plants, a relatively inexpensive power source, while decreasing CO2 emissions and securing a stable power source.
With the new technology, liquid CO2 is poured into a seabed layer about 500 meters beneath the seabed floor, where the CO2 is changed into a solid called “hydrate” due to changes in temperature and pressure. More liquid CO2 is poured under the solid hydrate, and the CO2 is stored with the hydrate serving as a lid.
J-Power will introduce a facility to store CO2 at its Chigasaki development center and start trials to confirm storage capacity. Demonstration tests in an actual seabed will start as early as 2023. J-Power has been developing CCS technology since 2016.
The mainstream method currently used in CCS entraps liquid CO2 in certain seabed layers. With this method, however, the seabed needs to bored to a depth of about one kilometer. J-Power estimates that the Japanese domestic industry as a whole will need to store 200 million tons of CO2 annually to meet the zero carbon emissions goal. The current cost of storage will be a heavy burden for businesses. In general, CCS costs 7,000 to 10,000 yen per ton. Storage costs are expected to comprise 1,000-2,500 yen of the total cost. Some say that the total cost needs to be reduced by one-third to one half for CCS to become widely used in the medium to long term.
J-Power’s new technology will reduce the cost of boring and enable CO2 to be stored more inexpensively than with current conventional technology. CO2 can be stored in many different seabed layers, leading to an increase in CO2 storage.
Less than 40% of J-Power’s total energy production is derived from inefficient coal-fired power. The reduction of its own CO2 production is an urgent need. J-Power has put effort into development of renewables such as wind power. The outlook for profits from renewables is unclear compared with thermal power. J-Power aims to make thermal power, its strong suit, into a clean energy source by developing its CCS technology at an early stage.