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. 

Mitsubishi Chemical Group considers world's first PC resin chemical recycling business

The Mitsubishi Chemical Group announced on March 15 that it has begun studying the commercialization of the world's first polycarbonate resin (PC resin) chemical recycling business. The aim is to achieve a processing capacity of 10,000 tons per year by 2030. Currently, the company is proceeding with the construction of a demonstration facility at the Fukuoka Office (Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture), aiming for completion in August 2023. Demonstration experiments will be completed within the same fiscal year, and specific commercialization studies will proceed.

Used PC resin is generally recycled by material recycling, which is molding after pulverization and melting. On the other hand, in chemical recycling, the used PC resin is depolymerized, returned to the raw material monomer, and then polymerized again. A wider range of used PC resins can be recycled into high-quality recycled PC resins.

In addition to establishing chemical recycling technology, the compnay is also aiming to build a recycling system for used PC resin, and plans to actively promote cooperation with companies that use PC resin in their products.

The Mitsubishi Chemical Group website:

Toray triples production capacity for hydrogen production equipment components

Toray Co., Ltd. announced on March 16 that it will triple the production of the core components of production equipment for "green hydrogen," which does not emit carbon dioxide (CO2) during production. The production capacity of the German plant will be increased from 2023. Toray has a global market share of more than 50% for this component, and is responding to the growing demand for green hydrogen production equipment in line with the global decarbonization trend.

The production will be increased for the core component of the water electrolyzer that produces hydrogen through electrolysis, the catalyst-coated electrolyte membrane (CCM). Water electrolyzers are used to produce green hydrogen using renewable energy. Water is electrolyzed through the CCM and split into hydrogen and oxygen. New facilities will be installed at the production base of the German subsidiary acquired in 2015. It is scheduled to start operation in the fall of 2023. The investment amount, including increased production of core components for fuel cell vehicles (FCV), is expected to reach nearly JP¥ 10 billion.

The German subsidiary is a pioneer in CCM and has been engaged in research and development for 20 years. It has commercialized hydrocarbon-based (HC) electrolyte membranes, which have higher production efficiency than fluorine-based membranes. CCMs manufactured in Germany currently use fluorine-based membranes, but will switch to HC electrolyte membranes in the future.

TORAY website:

GE introduces offshore wind turbine with the world's largest output to the Japanese market

General Electric (GE) of the United States announced on March 17 that it will introduce an offshore wind turbine with the world's largest power generation capacity to the Japanese market. The aim is to improve power generation efficiency by increasing the amount of power generated per unit. In the Japanese market, where offshore wind power generation is expected to grow, it will introduce wind turbines with an output of 17,000 to 18,000 kilowatts, one of the largest in the world.

The output has been increased by about 30% by lengthening the rotating "blade" compared to conventional products. It is calculated that one unit can supply electricity for 24,000 households. The large wind turbines that are currently being marketed in the United States and other countries are currently in the process of acquiring a certification called "Class T", which can withstand typhoons, in order to receive orders in Japan as well.

Denmark's Vestas, Spain's Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, and GE are said to be the world's top three manufacturers of offshore wind turbines. GE will provide wind turbines to consortiums such as Mitsubishi Corporation, which were selected in all three waters, including off the coast of Akita Prefecture, in a large-scale offshore wind power public offering announced by the Japanese government in December 2021. Together with Toshiba, it is involved in the domestic production, maintenance and operation of the nacelle, which is the driving part of the wind turbine.

GE Japan website (in Japanese):

Marubeni starts demonstration of injection and delivery of green hydrogen in gas distribution pipes in Portugal

Marubeni announced on March 17 that it has launched Portugal's first green hydrogen injection demonstration project. The demonstration will be carried out through Floene, the largest gas distribution company in Portugal. Specifically, green hydrogen produced by a local company using electricity derived from solar power generation will be injected into an existing natural gas distribution pipeline via a new hydrogen distribution pipeline constructed by Floene. Delivers to approximately 80 consumer, commercial and industrial customers.

Portugal currently aims to inject 10-15% hydrogen into its gas distribution network by 2030, and the demonstration is expected to increase the hydrogen injection rate to up to 20% in two years. Floene boasts a market share of over 70% in gas distribution in Portugal. The number of delivery destinations is about 1.13 million households and businesses, the total length of pipelines is 13,498 km, and the annual delivery volume is 1.7 billion cm. Marubeni has invested in the company since 2016.

Marubeni website:

METI starts acceptance of subsidies for purchasing clean energy vehicles for FY 2022 supplementary budget

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced on March 23 that it has started accepting applications for vehicle purchase subsidies for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, etc., for the FY 2022 supplementary budget. The transportation sector accounts for about 20% of Japan's carbon dioxide emissions, and automobiles account for about 90% of this. Toward the realization of carbon neutrality in 2050, it is important to spread clean energy vehicles with excellent environmental performance.

The FY 2022 supplementary budget for this subsidy is JP¥ 70 billion, and the subsidy will end as soon as the budget runs out. However, the system itself is scheduled to continue in FY 2023. The specific subsidy amounts are JP¥ 650,000 to 850,000 for EVs, JP¥ 450,000 to 550,000 for micro EVs, JP¥ 450,000 to 550,000 for PHEVs, and JP¥ 2.30 to 2.55 million for FCVs. 

However, although this system has been implemented every year for the past few years, the share of clean energy vehicles in total automobile sales is only about 2%, which is very small compared to Europe, the United States and China. In Japan, many automobile users believe that hybrid vehicles have good fuel efficiency and can reduce CO2 most efficiently, so it is difficult to completely eliminate ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) in the near future.

METI website(in Japanese):

Government procurement by the Ministry of the Environment, giving preferential treatment to eco-certified companies

On March 23, the Ministry of the Environment announced that it would give preferential treatment in public procurement to companies working to protect the environment through measures against global warming and recycling. Additional points will be added if the company is certified as an environmental conservation company in bidding for survey work and computer purchases. It encourages companies to work together on biodiversity and resource recycling in addition to climate change.

It utilize the "Eco-First System," in which the Minister of the Environment certifies companies that engage in environmental conservation. The Ministry of the Environment launched the system in 2008, and as of February it has certified 54 companies. The Ministry of the Environment gives preferential treatment to certified companies over other companies by giving them additional points when they bid on eligible procurement projects.

For example, it is expected that the bidding will be for research and development to create basic data for policymaking, and public relations for environmental policies. Consideration will be given to preferential treatment, such as adding 5 points to certified companies out of a maximum of 200 technical points. It will apply from procurement announced after March 2022.

Ministry of the Environment (in Japanese):


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