Thu. May 30th, 2024
  • Japan is offering various technologies to help Asia-Pacific nations reduce carbon emissions.
  • Critics argue that the co-firing technology promoted by Japan could extend the use of fossil fuels and delay the deployment of zero-emission options.
  • The country has also offered decarbonisation solutions like bendable solar panels and offshore wind.
  • Japan’s land constraints and the longevity of coal-fired plants in Southeast Asia make transitioning to renewable energy difficult.
  • The use of co-firing technology remains a contentious topic following the Cop28 climate summit, which supported the continued use of natural gas.
  • Concerns have been raised about supply chains and the availability of sufficient quantities of fuels like ammonia and hydrogen.

Japan has offered its aid to Asia-Pacific countries to help them cut carbon emissions using various technologies. However, critics argue that one of these solutions, the co-firing technology, could serve to extend the life of fossil fuel power plants rather than shifting to renewable energy sources. This co-firing technique uses less-polluting ammonia or hydrogen to replace a portion of the coal or gas used at power stations.

With land constraints making it difficult for renewables to be installed, Japan sees this co-firing technique as a possible tool for emissions reduction. The technology is also suitable for countries in Southeast Asia that have invested in coal-fired plants designed to operate for several more decades. However, critics claim that co-firing technology is expensive and does little to reduce emissions from fossil fuel electricity generation. They highlight that the technology is not yet fully developed and current proposals only replace about 20 to 30% of coal or gas used.

Despite the offer of co-firing technology, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government is also suggesting alternative decarbonisation solutions, including bendable solar panels and offshore wind. However, the discussion around co-firing comes after the Cop28 climate summit showed continued support for using natural gas while also committing to a transition away from fossil fuels for the first time.

Some critics argue that relying on co-firing technology could delay the deployment of zero-emission options like solar and wind power. Furthermore, questions remain about the availability of the necessary supply chains to deploy fuels like ammonia and hydrogen on the scale needed to reduce power sector emissions significantly. As such, countries could be derailed from reaching net-zero targets if there isn’t a cheap and ample supply of ammonia.

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