Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) globally have more than tripled in the last two years and accounted for over 20% of all car sales in major markets like China and Europe. In Japan, the shift to battery-only EVs has been slower, but the future of cars powered solely by fossil fuels is clearly limited, especially as more governments pass laws mandating an end to their sales.
How much petroleum products we’ll continue to consume over the coming decades is still the subject of much debate. But there’s a concerted push across road, air and sea transport to move away from crude oil-based fuels. Japan’s oil-fired generators are largely slated for decommissioning, and the nation’s 2050 carbon neutrality goal is now enshrined in law.
Thanks to better energy efficiency, climate concerns and a shrinking population, Japan’s oil consumption has declined by a third since the turn of the century. There are still 21 active refineries, capable of processing about 3.3 million barrels/ day, but within five years these operations will be subject to a new carbon levy that the government wants to help pay for a ¥150 trillion national decarbonization program, the GX.
As far as the oil refining companies are concerned, they’ve seen enough. Japan’s top three refining companies are now actively testing clean energy alternatives and pushing into new business directions to reduce their total emissions and find revenue streams beyond oil. The main challenge for the sector, however, is to transition in such a way as to remain profitable.
Japan NRG takes a look at how the domestic oil majors hope to reinvent themselves in a new green era.