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Annual Research Results (2010)

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Annual Research Results (2010)

Steps towards establishing LCS

In fiscal 2010, a budgetary request for the founding of LCS was made and approved, with preparations beginning in autumn 2009. A preparatory committee was set up within JST (Japan Science and Technology Agency), with a press conference held on December 11th by the Director-General, Deputy Director-General, Research Managing Director and Chairman. The Office to Promote Science and Technology for the Realization of a Low Carbon Society was set up the same day, and the planning and management director and staff began preparations for full scale operations.

The study group that had been formed in autumn 2009 from members with diverse experience and academic backgrounds was reorganized as a work group for promoting the realization of a low carbon society. This work group met five times to discuss what needed to be done over the next decade, to decide on a system of implementation and collaboration with related institutions, and to analyze the activities of Japan's main research institutions towards realizing a low carbon society. Its findings were reflected in the formation of LCS's organizational structure and research plans.

On March 8, 2010, at the second meeting of the MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, sports, Science and Technology) Committee for Promoting Research and Development Strategies for Realizing a Low Carbon Society, the Deputy Director-General presented a paper titled 'Current and Prospective Research on Social Scenarios,' while the Research Managing Director discussed 'The Transition towards a Low Carbon Society and the Effects on the Economy.' An active discussion following these presentations resulted in a consensus of opinions.

Results and Activities

The objective of LCS's research activities is to promote the transition towards an affluent low carbon society by using the research results for low carbon social system designs, quantitative economic and social scenarios and quantitative technology scenarios. Research activities are divided into eight subthemes, conducted by individual groups comprising the Deputy Director-General, Research Managing Director and Research Fellows.

Setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction and selecting technologies contributing to the realization of a low carbon society.
Table 1: Greenhouse gas emissions reduction target
Greenhouse gas emissions reduction target
Table 2: Technologies for realizing a low carbon society
Technologies for realizing a low carbon society
Quantitative Technology Scenarios
Figure 3: Quantitative Technology Scenarios

With the goal of realizing an affluent low carbon society that will provide people with comfort and a sense of wellbeing in everyday life, LCS aims to create scenarios and strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 25% of 1990 levels by 2020 as an intermediate goal towards to achieving long-term objectives by 2050. In order to meet overall greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, especially in everyday life, we have set targets for each source (Table 1).

We have also compiled a list of technologies that will contribute towards the realization of a low carbon society (Table 2). In particular, solar power generation, fuel cells and storage batteries are highly effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and are likely to play an important role in reducing emissions in daily life. We have conducted structured analysis of the relative technologies to create quantitative technology scenarios that forecast performance, cost and environmental impact of component technologies over time. (Table 3) After completing the scenario, we will study each technology in greater depth.

Quantitative technology scenarios on the detrimental effects of a one year delay in implementing technology research development.
Table 3. Economic loss (in yen) of delaying research and development of technologies by one year
Economic loss (in yen) of delaying research and development of technologies by one year
Improvements achieved by accelerating installation of solar cells
Figure 4. Improvements achieved by accelerating installation of solar cells

Prevention of global warming requires rapid development of low carbon technologies, particularly in the areas of solar cells, storage batteries and high performance steel. We have studied the economic impact of a one-year delay in such development. (Table 3) Based on the results of this study, we also conducted trial calculations of the improvements that could be made possible by accelerating solar cell installation. (Figure 4) According to our current scenario, installation would require a total cost of 2.1 trillion yen, with a recovery date set for 2033.

If the process was accelerated, the total cost could be reduced to 1.3 trillion yen, with a recovery date of 2028. If, on the other hand, the process was delayed, expenditures would amount to 4.3 trillion yen, which could not be recovered until 2043. This indicates that promoting solar cell development and installation will have a positive economic impact in terms of reducing accumulated expenditures and recovery time.

Structuring areas of research eligible for Advanced Low Carbon Technology Research and Development Program
Organization structure of the four technologies and five research fields eligible under the program
Figure 5. Organization structure of the four technologies and five research fields eligible under the program
Mapping out the themes of the four technologies and five research fields
Figure 6. Mapping out the themes of the four technologies and five research fields

The Advanced Low Carbon Technology Research and Development Program was established by JST in 2010 to promote ambitious research and development of 'game changing technologies' to realize breakthroughs and change existing concepts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions continuously and steadily over the medium and long term.

We have structured the elements and systems of four typical research fields eligible for the program: solar cell and solar energy systems, superconducting systems, electric storage devices, and ultra heat-resistant material and high quality recycling steel. For each of these technologies, we have indicated performance and cost targets for 2030, highlighting specific or common issues that need to be solved. (Figures 5 and 6)

Indicating the structure of research fields gives researchers at universities and research institutes a clearer understanding of how their proposed projects would relate to other areas of research. Creating a map of research topics provides an overall view of which areas are most likely to achieve technological breakthroughs, and helps ensure no essential areas have been omitted.

Simulations based on economic and social scenarios and computable general equilibrium models
Simulations based on computable general equilibrium models
Figure 7. Simulations based on computable general equilibrium models

With regards to economic and social scenarios, we have developed and improved general equilibrium models for areas throughout Japan, as well as developing consumer preference models for solar generation and energy-saving electrical appliances. We have also incorporated demand-side models with general equilibrium models. By promoting low carbon objectives in daily life, we aim to develop scenarios that will see family finances shifting towards a low carbon consumer structure and companies towards a low carbon industrial structure.

Using a computable general equilibrium model, we evaluated the economic impact of achieving mid-term objectives on family finances and industry (Fig. 7). This has enabled us to indicate policies and conditions for achieving mid-term objectives while improving household utility. We found that the most effective way to improve household utility was to improve the efficiency of domestic electrical appliances such as air conditioning units, television sets and refrigerators. The increase in Japan's household welfare when viewed as an equivalent variation amounted to an increase of over 8 trillion yen. It is therefore important to construct policies to accelerate the spread of energy-saving electrical appliances.

Constructing social systems and data bases
Table 4. Database outline
Database outline

With regards to constructing social systems, we conducted case studies of eco-model cities and structured policies, technical and social elements to compile an Eco-model City Database showing the progress made by each city. We have also started to create a database on the cost effectiveness of global warming countermeasures implemented in each region (Table 4). We focused on 13 eco-model cities to obtain an overall view of the countermeasures implemented in each region. In order to support the promotion of effective global warming countermeasures, we constructed a database on the countermeasures implemented at the city, town and village level. To enhance search, visualization and evaluation functions, the database also provides information on the effectiveness of each countermeasure, taking into account the availability of government subsidies. We are in the process of developing database systems for Eco-model Cities and Global Warming Countermeasures implemented in each region. If all goes according to plan, these databases will be available in 2011.

Scenarios to take into account effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake

We have revised our scenarios for achieving low carbonization in Japan to take into account the earthquake's impact on existing CO2 emission reduction scenarios and the transition towards new energy systems. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions and creating a low carbon society, we also aim to develop a low carbon social system that ensures a stable supply of safe and secure energy.

On March 25, following the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, a special task force was set up to consider the impact of the disaster on Japan's energy supply system and to incorporate the reconstruction of the affected regions into our scenarios for the ongoing shift to a low carbon society. By late March, we presented the framework of our scenario to address the effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake on our website, and published our emergency scenario for resolving disaster-related electricity supply shortages.


Under Construction

External activities

Committee activities

In response to requests from the Council for Science and Technology, MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), and local governments, Deputy Director-General Koichi Yamada, Research Director Ryuji Matsuhashi and other research fellows joined a number of committees. Preliminary results for our economic and social models were incorporated in the Economic Model Analysis used for compiling the Mid- and Long-term Roadmap for Global Warming Measures (draft proposal by Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa on March 31, 2010).

Collaboration with other organizations

We collaborate with other organizations to most effectively disseminate our research results. In 2010, we worked with the Promotion Council for Low-Carbon Cities (PCLCC) and GCCSI, Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.

Promotion Council for Low-Carbon Cities (PCLCC)
Incorporated under the Cabinet Secretariat's Regional Revitalization Bureau, the council was established as a platform for local governments interested in realizing low-carbon communities. Its objectives are to promote the best efforts of eco-model cities throughout Japan, to build and share expertise, and to supply information both domestically and worldwide.
Based on reports on eco-model city planning and progress, we plan to construct databases for Eco-model Cities and Global Warming Countermeasures. These will feature case studies of countermeasures and their cost-effectiveness, and will be made available worldwide following evaluation by users in cities throughout Japan.
「GCCSI (Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute)」
The institute was incorporated under the Australian Corporations Act as a public company to address issues related to carbon capture and storage (CCS) and support the commercialization of CCS projects. The institute aims to build international trust towards CCS and enhance the deployment of CCS projects by developing and deploying safe and sustainable CCS commercial projects, developing technologies to capture, transport and store CO2 emissions, by providing expertise on the costs and benefits of carbon separation and the operational and legislative issues involved in achieving it, and by providing solutions to the urgent problem of climate change.
As a member of the institute, we participated in symposiums and workshops organized by the institute and gathered information on CCS research and development, the status of implementation and the problems involved.
Organizing symposiums and workshops

To publicize our activities and research results, we organized symposiums and conducted presentations at events sponsored by other organizations.

「Nature Photonics Technology Conference」
NPG Nature Asia-Pacific
October 21, 2010
TFT Hall (Ariake, Tokyo)
The theme of the conference was Future Perspectives on Photovoltaics, and sponsors included METI, the Environment Ministry, MEXT and the British Embassy. A number of keynote speeches and special lectures discussed cutting-edge photovoltaic technologies and their large-scale deployment. LCS Director-General Hiroshi Komiyama gave a presentation titled The Role of Japan as the Forerunner of Emerging Issues, and Deputy Director-General Koichi Yamada spoke on The Development of Photovoltaic Power Generation for Large-scale Dissemination.
Other PR activities
Panel display at the AAAS Annual Meeting 2011

At the annual meeting, held in February 2011, the LCS booth featured a panel display and a taped introduction to the Center. This was a very effective way to promote LCS, since the meeting attracted participants from over 50 countries. We also conducted a survey via the booth's Opinion Pod to gather ideas and opinions for future activities.