Recently, Japan has announced that they are developing a long-term strategy for green technology innovations. They have set a goal for doubling conservation and efficiency, thereby lowering energy costs along with many other goals.

Japan’s Cabinet Office has announced a draft of the “Energy/Environment Innovation Strategy” at the fourth meeting of the Working Group for Formulating Energy/Environment Innovation Strategy.

In regard to next-generation power generation, it set a goal of doubling conversion efficiency and lowering power generation cost to ¥7/kWh or lower.

The strategy was aimed at creating innovations for drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions with a long-term perspective (by about 2050) after the long-term goal of keeping the average temperature rise in the world at much less than 2°C was mentioned at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21), which took place at the end of 2015.

The “Environmental Energy Technological Innovation Plan” (revised in September 2015), which was made at the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation, is targeted at technologies expected to be in practical use in the short- (by about 2030) and medium-terms (in and after 2030). On the other hand, in the Energy/Environment Innovation Strategy, innovative technologies that have a high discontinuity with existing technologies and have large impacts were mentioned.

For the strategy, technologies are classified into seven categories: (1) innovative production process, (2) ultra-lightweight, heat-resistant material, (3) next-generation storage battery, (4) production, storage and usage of hydrogen, etc, (5) next-generation solar power generation, (6) next-generation geothermal power generation and (7) immobilization/effective use of CO2.

Storage battery and hydrogen production technologies play a major role in absorbing the output fluctuation of solar/wind power. Therefore, four of the seven categories are related to renewable energy.

As technological impacts in the category of next-generation solar power generation, the working group cited “a conversion efficiency twice as high as that of current widely-used solar power generation” and “realization of a power generation cost of ¥7/kWh, which is equivalent to the cost of a basic power source, by reducing production/installation costs and drastically improving power generation efficiency. Those predicted impacts are consistent with “NEDO PV Challenges,” which New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) announced in September 2014.

As innovative technologies, the working group cited “quantum dot” and “perovskite,” which use new structures and materials totally different from existing solar cells.

Author: Kenji Kaneco


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