Japanese companies pitch decarbonization tech at COP26


GLASGOW — Japanese companies are promoting their decarbonization technologies at the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). As decarbonization is a global issue, related technologies could become a future focus of exports. Therefore, the companies are trying to expand business opportunities by pitching their technologies to dignitaries from various countries participating in COP26.

■ Monitoring from space

At the COP26 venue, participating countries have set up pavilions to showcase their environmental initiatives. At the Japan Pavilion organized by the Environment Ministry, 16 Japanese companies and organizations are promoting their technologies and products. At this year’s COP26, some business seminars and events are also being held online for the first time, making it possible for about 30 companies to participate from Japan.

Technologies for capturing and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions have attracted attention at the pavilion.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. pitches its carbon dioxide capture and storage technology. The technology is designed to collect CO2 from exhaust gas generated by thermal power plants and other factories by using a special liquid, which absorbs CO2, and then to compress and store the captured CO2 underground or in the deep sea. The company said this technology has the capability to capture more than 90% of the CO2 in exhaust gas. The technology has been adopted at 13 locations around the world, holding a 70% global share. MHI aims to take COP26 as an opportunity to expand its market further.

Reuven Carlyle, a member of the Washington State legislature who visited the Japan Pavilion, expressed his surprise at such advanced technology, saying it could contribute to decarbonization efforts around the world.

Sumitomo Forestry Co. and IHI Corp. have jointly promoted their system to monitor areas of land that are prone to generate greenhouse gases, observing them from space and on the ground. The two companies have developed the world’s first system to better conserve forests by monitoring soil moisture and vegetation, using a space satellite and other means. The system is currently in operation on 125,000 hectares of land in Indonesia. The companies hope to expand their initiative to other countries and regions.

■ Longer drive range

Energy sources that do not emit greenhouse gases and energy-saving technologies also have drawn strong interest among COP26 participants.

Panasonic Corp. is presenting its fuel-cell system that uses hydrogen at factories and commercial buildings. Combined with solar power generation, this system aims to generate up to 10,000 kilowatts or more of electricity without emitting greenhouse gases. The company intends to put it to practical use in 2030 or later with an eye toward adoption of the system in locations such as large semiconductor factories and storage battery plants.

“There has been strong interest [in the system] mainly from oil-producing countries that are trying to shift their industry focus,” said Shoji Kusumoto, director of Panasonic’s Environmental Management Department.

Hitachi, Ltd., which became a COP26 sponsor this year in a first for the company, is exhibiting its in-wheel motor system, in which a motor is built into the wheel of an electric vehicle. As the in-wheel motor directly powers the wheels, the vehicle has better energy efficiency than conventional EVs, which use axles to transmit power to the wheels, increasing the range on a single charge by about 50%.

According to the International Energy Agency, annual investment of $4 trillion (about ¥450 trillion) in clean energy is required worldwide to achieve decarbonization. Japan is also likely to see a growing need to sell decarbonization technologies overseas from the viewpoint of its growth strategy.

By Ryosuke Terunuma / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer