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Environment

Japan companies show off carbon-free tech as Tokyo clings to coal

Panasonic and Chiyoda offer hydrogen-based options to cut carbon emissions

Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, right, is briefed on Japanese-made offshore wind generators at the COP25 climate gathering in Madrid.

TOKYO -- While the Japanese government weathers criticism at a United Nations climate conference over its failure to renounce coal, the country's private sector is using the event to showcase technologies that can make a carbon-free society possible.

Engineering company Chiyoda has touted its hydrogen liquefaction and transport technology at the COP25 conference concluding Friday in Madrid.

Chiyoda plans to use tankers for shipping liquid hydrogen from Brunei to Japan, with a roughly 12-month trial beginning next year. The company aims to reduce the costs of using hydrogen so it can compete with other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

Also at the climate meeting's Japan Pavilion, Panasonic unveiled a system that taps excess electricity on power grids to create and store hydrogen. The energy would be available for use by factories and homes. Tokyo-based startup Challenergy exhibited its typhoon-proof wind turbine.

Europe and Japan differ in official approaches toward reducing their carbon footprints. While major European nations look to eliminate coal-burning power generation by the 2030s, Japan expects coal to make up 26% of its energy mix in 2030.

Wednesday's statement by Shinjiro Koizumi, Japan's 38-year-old environment minister, did little to burnish the country's image at the conference. Koizumi offered no pledge to relinquish coal, nor did he declare bolder carbon reduction targets. Climate Action International, a nongovernmental group, awarded Japan the dubious distinction of "Fossil of the Day."

In the U.S., the private sector has taken the lead in renewable energy. Though President Donald Trump has announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, American power generation from renewable sources last year was double the output from a decade earlier, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Technology giants Apple and Google say they have achieved 100% use of renewable energy for their annual power consumption. Apple is encouraging iPhone suppliers to use green energy as well. Over 200 global companies have joined the RE100 initiative to source all power used in commercial activities from renewable energy. Roughly 30 Japanese corporations count themselves as members.

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