TOKYO A grouping of 24 Japanese firms, mainly utilities and energy companies, will work with government on feasibility studies for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, an official said on Monday.
"We now have a firm that brings together all the technologies in this field," Toshihiro Mitsuhashi, who handles environmental policies for Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), told reporters.
Participating in the venture called "Japan CCS Co Ltd" are 11 utilities, including Tokyo Electric Power Co, five oil refiners, four engineering firms, two oil and gas developers, one steelmaker and one chemical firm.
Japan CCS said in a statement it aims to conduct feasibility studies for the government this business year in an attempt toward realizing Japan's goal to capture and store 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year from 2020.
Another METI official said there was potential to store 150 billion tonnes of CO2 in and around Japan.
Under a "Cool Earth" initiative that METI crafted in March, Japan aims to cut the cost for separation and capture from about 4,200 yen ($39.56) per tonne now to 1,000 yen by 2020.
CCS could keep up to a third of all man made carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere by trapping and then burying emissions from fossil fuel power plants, and so may be a vital weapon against climate change.
But no project exists anywhere yet to demonstrate the technology fitted to a large-scale power plant, partly because of an added cost of around 1 billion euros ($1.58 billion) per plant.
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori)