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The EU-Japan Centre is pleased to start a new weekly service by publishing brief summary of the latest information from the Japanese governmental organizations & private companies/organizations. A couple of minutes reading to be informed about what is happening in Japan's policy, economy, EU-Japan relations, and innovation.

*Information is deemed correct at the time of release. 

Kawasaki Heavy Industries and French company partner to develop fuel cells for construction machinery
Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Symbio, a French fuel cell company, announced on February 28 that they have signed a memorandum of understanding for joint development of fuel cell systems for use in construction machinery. The construction equipment industry is increasingly switching from diesel engines to power sources that have a lower environmental impact, and fuel cells are also being considered. Symbio is a joint venture between French tire giant Michelin, European car giant Stellantis, and French auto parts manufacturer Faurecia. It has over 30 years of know-how in developing fuel cell systems. Kawasaki Heavy Industries has been producing hydraulic equipment for construction machinery and parts for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs).

Unlike FCVs, which can be refilled with hydrogen at hydrogen stations in the city, construction machines are often operated at sites where stations are not available, such as in housing development or river construction. Hydrogen supply methods are likely to become a development issue for fuel cell systems for construction machinery. Kawasaki Heavy Industries is working to strengthen its hydrogen business, but this is the first time it has partnered with a fuel cell company. The idea is to put it into practical use as early as 2026.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries website:
https://global.kawasaki.com/news_240228-1e.pdf

Idemitsu, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Swiss companies produce ammonia in North America
Idemitsu Kosan announced on February 27 that it will participate in an ammonia production project in the U.S. state of Louisiana that is being considered by Mitsubishi Corporation and Swiss methanol major Proman. Approximately 1.2 million tons of "blue ammonia" will be produced annually using CCS, which captures and stores carbon dioxide (CO2), and will be exported mainly to Japan. The three companies will produce approximately 1.2 million tons of ammonia annually in Lake Charles, Louisiana, by 2030. Utilizing cutting-edge low-carbon technology from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and other companies, the company will create products that emit less CO2 during production than regular ammonia. The ammonia produced will be exported mainly to Japan and used as fuel in power plants. The plan is to use Mitsubishi Corporation's liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) terminal in Ehime Prefecture and Idemitsu's existing infrastructure in Yamaguchi Prefecture as reception centers for transportation. Mitsubishi Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Proman in September 2023 to build a low-carbon ammonia plant.

Idemitsu Kosan website:
https://www.idemitsu.com/en/news/2023/240227.html

Kajima invests in Canadian geothermal power generation startup
Kajima announced on February 19 that it has invested in Eavor Technologies, a Canadian energy company based on geothermal technology. Eavor Technologies has developed Eavor-loop, which combines oil and gas well drilling technology with the company's new proprietary technology. Eaver-loop uses geothermal energy technology to regulate the flow of a circulating liquid, allowing the liquid to store heat and reach higher temperatures during times of low demand, and convert electricity with high efficiency during times of high demand. By utilizing this function, they aim to realize a baseload electricity supply that can flexibly adjust supply and demand, and create a future where clean, reliable, and inexpensive energy is supplied on a global scale.

Eaver Technologies has been operating its Eaver-loop demonstration facility, Eavor Lite, in Canada for over four years, and is currently constructing the world's first commercial closed-loop power generation facility in Geretsried, Germany. Ever-loop is a closed-loop geothermal power generation system that circulates liquid through high-temperature rock layers to recover heat from underground rock. The feature of Ever-loop is that it does not have the risk of conventional geothermal power generation, such as not being able to locate geothermal reservoirs. Since it can be applied to areas other than volcanic areas, the area where geothermal energy can be developed will expand. Furthermore, since it is possible to develop geothermal energy in locations where it is difficult to compete with hot springs without extracting steam or hot water, it is expected that smooth consensus building will occur among the parties involved in geothermal development areas.

Kajima Corporation website:
https://www.kajima.co.jp/english/news/info/pdf/20240219.pdf

Rakuten Symphony and Ukrainian telecommunications carrier “Kyivstar” reach basic agreement on implementation of Open RAN
Rakuten Symphony, a Rakuten Group company that operates a communications platform business, and Kyivstar, a subsidiary of VEON and a major telecommunications carrier in Ukraine, announced on February 26 that Kyivstar will add to its network in Ukraine. A basic agreement was reached on the introduction of Rakuten Symphony's Open RAN technology. Based on this agreement, both companies will introduce Rakuten Symphony's Open RAN and 5G technologies to Kyivstar's network, and promote efforts to rebuild Ukraine's digital infrastructure and support the country's reconstruction and recovery. The implementation is scheduled to begin in 2024.

Rakuten Groupe website:
https://global.rakuten.com/corp/news/press/2024/0226_04.html?year=2024&month=2&category=mobile

Rapidus partners with Canadian company to manufacture AI semiconductors
Rapidus, which aims to mass produce cutting-edge semiconductors, announced on February 27 that it will collaborate with Canadian semiconductor design and development company Tenstorrent on the development of artificial intelligence (AI) semiconductors. With the spread of AI, the demand for specialized semiconductors that perform high-speed calculation processing is increasing, and Rapidus aims to become a source of manufacturing. In early February, the government announced that it would provide JP¥28 billion in subsidies to the Advanced Semiconductor Technology Center (LSTC), a research institute run by Rapidus, the University of Tokyo, and others. The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology will be involved in the research, and will be responsible for developing semiconductors that will speed up the massive calculations required for AI. Tenstorrent will participate in the development of the central processing unit (CPU) that plays the role of the brain, and Rapidus will be responsible for the production of AI semiconductors. Rapidus aims to mass-produce AI semiconductors developed using this framework around 2029. Regarding AI semiconductors, while manufacturers are increasing production, supply continues to be unable to keep up with expanding demand.

Rapidus website:
https://www.rapidus.inc/news_topics/information/rapidus-to-promote-development-and-manufacturing-of-edge-ai-accelerator-with-tenstorrenta-collaboration-in-a-project-by-lstc-adopted-by-nedo/

TSMC Kumamoto 2nd Factory will receive up to JP¥732 billion in subsidy 
According to announcements from major medias, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Takeshi Saito announced on February 24 that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)would pay for maintenance costs for the second factory in Kumamoto of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (TSMC), the world's largest contract manufacturer of semiconductors. The government announced that it would provide up to JP¥732 billion in subsidies. He made the announcement after the opening ceremony of the company's first factory in Kikuyo Town, Kumamoto Prefecture. 

The METI also explained that it had established new requirements regarding subsidies for the construction of the second factory. They requested that production continue for at least 10 years after the start of mass production, and that most of the wafers used for semiconductors be procured from Japanese companies, and that at least 50% of other parts and materials be procured from companies based in Japan. Construction of the second factory is expected to begin in 2024 and be operational by the end of 2027. The plan is to mainly manufacture semiconductors with a circuit line width of 6 nanometers, which is more advanced than the first factory. It will become a domestic mass production base for cutting-edge semiconductors used in autonomous driving and artificial intelligence (AI). TSMC's investment in both plants will exceed $20 billion (approximately JP¥3 trillion yen). The METI will provide up to JP¥1.208 trillion in support, including the first factory.

TSMC website:
https://pr.tsmc.com/japanese/news/3113

METI YouTube Channel (in Japanese):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN7XQQnJceo

Itochu investigates synthetic fuel production in Australia
On February 27, ITOCHU Corporation announced that it will begin an investigation into the production and export of hydrogen-derived synthetic fuel (e-fuel) in Australia. It will work with a subsidiary of U.S. synthetic fuel manufacturer HIF Global, JFE Steel, and Mitsui OSK Lines to investigate costs and see if it can be commercialized. Production is expected to begin by 2030. The plan is to capture the raw material carbon dioxide (CO2) in Japan and transport it to Australia to create synthetic fuel. In addition to utilizing CO2 emitted by industries that are difficult to decarbonize, such as steel manufacturing, it will also use "green hydrogen" produced using renewable energy. ITOCHU will be in charge of overseeing the entire project, while HIF will investigate the manufacturing regions and costs of synthetic fuel. JFE Steel will estimate CO2 recovery in Japan, and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines will estimate shipping costs. Synthetic fuel has the same chemical structure as gasoline and other fuels, and has the advantage of being able to be used in existing equipment. Since it can also be used in gasoline engines, it has high expectations in the automotive field.

Itochu website:
https://www.itochu.co.jp/en/news/press/2024/240227.html

Tokyu Land and Renewable Japan jointly acquire Spain's Valdecaretas solar power plant
Tokyu Land Corporation announced on February 29 that it has jointly acquired the Valdecaretas Solar Power Plant (installed capacity: 37.8MW, hereinafter referred to as the "Power Plant") located in Toro, Zamora Province, Spain, in collaboration with Renewable Japan. This is the company's second acquisition of a Spanish company, and the total installed capacity of Tokyu Land's solar power plants in Spain is approximately 77.7MW. The southern European region, centered on Spain, where they are jointly investing, has a large amount of sunlight and is rich in rolling hills suitable for solar power generation, making it an extremely attractive market for the development of solar power plants. As a result, stable business growth is expected to continue going forward. Tokyu Land Corporation and Renewable Japan aim to develop and own a total of 1GW (=1,000MW) of renewable energy power plants in Southern Europe, mainly Spain and Italy, over the next few years.

Tokyu Land Corporation website (in Japanese):
https://www.tokyu-land.co.jp/news/2024/001169.html


 

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