Japan is preparing to test its biggest project yet for capturing and storing greenhouse gas pollution under the seabed despite concerns about cost and the safety of pursuing the technology in a region prone to earthquakes.
Engineers plan to inject carbon dioxide into deep saline aquifers off the coast of Hokkaido at the northern tip of the nation starting in April. The gas will be siphoned away from a refinery operated by Idemitsu Kosan Co. under the government-backed project.
Five years after an earthquake and tidal wave triggered an atomic meltdown in Fukushima, Japan is grappling for ways to generate power while meeting global goals for reducing fossil-fuel emissions. Carbon capture and storage, tested in many nations but working at a commercial scale almost nowhere, holds the promise of limiting the most damaging fumes from thermal power plants and giving
Japanese companies a vast new market.
“Individual technologies have already been established” for the project, Tetsuo Kasukawa, a spokesman for Japan CCS Co., the Tokyo-based research company which has built and prepared the site for the carbon injection, said in an interview in Tokyo. “We want to prove CCS is also possible in Japan.”
Some Japanese companies are already lending their expertise to and investing in CCS projects overseas. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. designed and built a project in Alabama with Southern Co. Tokyo Gas Co., Osaka Gas Co. and Chubu Electric Power Co. are part of the alliance building the world’s largest CCS project on Barrow Island off the coast of Western Australia.