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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. 

5 Large Trading Companies Launch Demonstration Experiment to Realize Reuse and Recycling Business of Photovoltaic Panels

Sumitomo Corporation ("Sumitomo"), Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing Company, Limited ("SMFL"), SMFL Mirai Partners, Inc. , Abizu Corporation (“Abizu”) and SMART Co. (collectively, the "Five Companies") have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to conduct a demonstration experiment to realize a reuse and recycling business for used solar panels. While various renewable energies are being introduced in Japan to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, solar power in particular accounted for 10.6 percent of Japan's power source mix in FY2022, and is expected to account for 14-16 percent by 2030. On the other hand, one of the challenges is the disposal of the solar panels used to generate electricity. Solar panels generally have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years, and since 800,000 tons (equivalent to about 40 million panels) are expected to be disposed of annually in the 2030s, a sustainable supply chain is needed to reduce waste through reuse and recycling. 

The roles of each company are as follows:

  • Sumitomo Corporation: Project management, collection of solar panels, and establishment of sales channels for reused panels
  • SMFL and SMFL Mirai Partners: Provision of discharged solar panels
  • Abizu: Transportation, storage, and reuse/recycling practices for solar panels
  • SMART: Dismantling and removal of solar panels upon collection

Sumitomo Corp (in Japanese):https://www.sumitomocorp.com/ja/jp/news/topics/2024/group/20240328

METI published a Guidance for the Creation and Growth of GX startups

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has developed guidance for startups working toward a Green Transformation (GX) that will simultaneously decarbonize and strengthen industrial competitiveness and economic growth, with the aim of creating new growth models. To achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, the IEA analysis for 2023 estimates that about 35% of the necessary emission reductions will come from technologies that are not yet at a commercial stage. The creation and growth of startups in GX-related fields is necessary to promote the technological innovation needed for emission reductions, to capture the growing market in the GX sector as soon as possible, and to promote GX among companies.

On the other hand, GX startups require a different strategy for their growth than existing startups, as they require a large amount of funds for R&D until their technologies and businesses are established and have a long-time horizon until commercialization.

One of the major obstacles to GX startup growth is the middle period before mass production, which requires overcoming the stagnant structure where sales prospects are uncertain unless the product is ready and funding is not available unless sales are expected. This guidance provides several "templates" for the GX startups, such as LOI (Letter of Intent) and other methods of expressing demand based on market risks specific to the GX sector, diversification of startup financing based on expected profitability, etc., according to domestic and international examples, practical points, growth stages, etc. The report also provides a number of "templates" based on the growth stage and other factors.

METI website (in Japanese):https://www.meti.go.jp/press/2023/03/20240329010/20240329010.html

Start of Demonstration Testing of Fuel Ammonia substitution at JERA’s Hekinan Thermal Power Station: The World’s First Demonstration Testing of 20% Ammonia Substitution at a Large-Scale Commercial Coal-Fired Thermal Power Plant

JERA Co., Inc. (“JERA”) and IHI Corporation (“IHI”) are working together on the "Development of Technologies for Carbon Recycling and Next-Generation Thermal Power Generation / Research, Development, and Demonstration of Technologies for Ammonia Co-Firing Thermal Power Generation" project (the Project”), subsidized by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). Under the Project, JERA and IHI today began, at JERA’s Hekinan Thermal Power Station in Hekinan City, Aichi Prefecture, the world’s first demonstration testing of large-volume fuel ammonia substitution (20% of heating value) at a large-scale commercial coal-fired thermal power plant. This demonstration testing is planned to be carried out through June 2024.

Looking to reduce future environmental impact, the Project aims to establish ammonia substitution technology by substituting fuel with ammonia at a large-scale commercial coal-fired power plant and evaluating both boiler heat absorption and environmental impact characteristics such as exhaust gases. The Project period is scheduled for approximately 4 years from July 2021 through March 2025. Since October 2022, JERA and IHI have been moving forward in constructing the burners, tank, vaporizer, piping, and other facilities necessary for demonstration testing fuel ammonia substitution at JERA’s Hekinan Thermal Power Station. IHI has developed a test burner based on the results of small-volume testing of fuel ammonia at the power station’s Unit 5, and JERA has prepared safety measures and an operational framework for the use of fuel ammonia at the power station. 
With such preparations in place, the demonstration testing of large-volume fuel ammonia substitution began on April 1st at the power station’s Unit 4. The demonstration testing will look at characteristics of the plant overall, investigating nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and confirming factors such as operability and the impact on boilers and ancillary equipment.

JERA: https://www.jera.co.jp/en/news/information/20240401_1863

Ajinomoto and Kagoshima Prefecture Sign Collaboration Agreement to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Beef and Dairy Cattle Ranching and Promote Industry

Ajinomoto Co., Ltd. has concluded a collaboration agreement with Kagoshima Prefecture and livestock organizations in the prefecture to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) in beef and dairy cattle farming and to promote the industry.Kagoshima Prefecture will promote GX by adopting our GHG reduction solution utilizing our AjiPro®-L amino acid lysine formulation for cattle and implementing initiatives in collaboration with several livestock-related organizations, livestock businesses, universities, and financial institutions in the prefecture. Industry, academia, government, and academia-academia-government have pledged to participate in the project, and it is expected that this initiative will help to expand efforts to reduce GHG emissions from cattle to the entire prefecture on a large scale and quickly.

In dairy cattle, using this product allows for reducing feed costs by decreasing the usage of high-cost feed ingredients such as soybean meal, which contains excessive amino acids, while supplementing deficient amino acids to balance the amino acid profile in the feed. As a result, it becomes possible to maintain milk production while reducing feed costs, as well as decreasing excess nitrogen in manure and reducing nitrous oxide emissions. In beef cattle, in addition to the above method, adding "AjiPro®-L" to the feed during the fattening stage supplements lysine, one of the most easily deficient amino acids in feed. Consequently, by shortening the fattening period or increasing carcass weight, it becomes possible to reduce both methane and nitrous oxide emissions per unit weight, as well as reducing production costs.

Ajinomoto (in Japanese): https://www.ajinomoto.co.jp/company/jp/presscenter/press/detail/2024_04_02.html

Fujitsu signs MoU with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. to drive nature positive actions

Fujitsu today announced that on March 29, 2024 it concluded a memorandum of understanding with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (MUFG) to deliver nature-positive (1) outcomes through the conservation of natural capital and biodiversity.

Based on the MoU, Fujitsu will leverage its AI, blockchain, and other technologies and its expertise in DX together with MUFG’ s global network, knowledge in financing, and new business creation to work on solutions to achieve nature-positive outcomes. By collaborating with various customers to promote nature-positive activities, Fujitsu will further create business opportunities that lead to the conservation of natural capital and biodiversity for its customers and strengthen its management foundation.
Through these activities, Fujitsu will continue to work toward the creation of a future where both people and nature can thrive.

Fujitsu: https://www.fujitsu.com/global/about/resources/news/press-releases/2024/0401-01.html

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