The fate of Japan’s recently-announced and ambitious decarbonization pledge will in large part depend on the future course determined by the country’s largest utility, JERA. The company is a vast network of fossil fuel assets and trading, and the world’s No.1 importer of LNG. If such a colossus of old-energy can make a drastic transition to clean energy, then Japan has a chance.
About 10% of Japan’s CO2 emissions can be traced to JERA. The company operates more than two dozen thermal power stations with 70 GW of capacity, equivalent to one-third of Japan’s total.
Despite such an entrenched fossil fuel asset base, JERA has pledged to embrace the clean energy revolution. The company says it is betting big on ammonia and hydrogen, and has strong ambitions in offshore wind.
JERA’s influence on Japan’s national energy strategy is unmistakable. Last October, JERA took center stage when it unveiled a strategy toward zero CO2 emissions by 2050. Two weeks later, Prime Minister Suga made the national pledge to achieve decarbonization by mid-century. A JERA executive admitted to Japan NRG that the company exchanged views with government agencies beforehand.
Both JERA and the government identify hydrogen and offshore wind as the essential pillars of the zero-emission goals. Inspired by JERA’s strategy, Kansai Electric Power Co. and Chugoku Electric Power Co. in February also announced plans to promote the use of ammonia to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, Japan projects that power generation based on hydrogen and ammonia will account for ….