About renewable energy
With the goal of becoming an integrated energy company that contributes to a stable energy supply to broader communities, INPEX is engaged in efforts to commercialize renewable energies and reinforce Research and Development (R&D) activities for the next generation. INPEX will continue to explore the business potential of various types of renewable energy such as geothermal, which has synergies with conventional oil and gas development, as well as wind power and photovoltaic power generation.
Geothermal energy development
Geothermal power generation is achieved through the rotation of turbines using steam extracted at the surface from groundwater heated by underground magma. Geothermal has been touted as a precious, clean energy source because of its low CO2 emissions and stability as well as lack of influence from the weather or seasons compared with the other types of renewable energy.
Since 2011, INPEX has been participating in joint geothermal development studies in Japan in the Oyasu area of Akita Prefecture and the Amemasu area in Hokkaido. As part of these studies, seven exploratory wells were drilled in the Oyasu area while six were drilled in the Amemasu area between 2013 and 2017. In 2018, flow tests were conducted at the exploratory wells in the Amemasu area and at the pilot wells in the Oyasu area. Meanwhile, an environmental impact assessment was initiated as a step toward commencing commercial operations in the Oyasu area.
INPEX will also strengthen its geothermal energy development initiatives outside of Japan. In June 2015, INPEX joined the Sarulla Geothermal Independent Power Producer (IPP) Project, the world's largest single-contract geothermal power project located in the Sarulla area of Indonesia's North Sumatra Province. The project commenced commercial operations of the first unit In March 2017, followed by that of the second unit in October 2017 and that of the third and final unit in May 2018. The three units generate a combined power output of approximately 330MW. The power generated from the project is contracted to be sold to Perusahaan Listrik Negara, Indonesia's government-owned electricity company over a period of 30 years.
About Teiseki Drilling Co., Ltd.
Our subsidiary Teiseki Drilling Co., Ltd. provides geothermal well drilling services. Teiseki Drilling has a track record of drilling more than half of all the wells connected to geothermal power plants in Japan.
Photovoltaic power generation
In photovoltaic power generation, large-scale systems with a power generating capacity of 1 megawatt (MW) or more are called Mega Solar facilities. Since the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and the ensuing tsunami, expectations for greater photovoltaic power generation capabilities have grown in the hope of mitigating concerns about power supply shortages. The construction of Mega Solar facilities comprising ranks of numerous photovoltaic panels installed over a wide area is being promoted throughout Japan.
In 2013, INPEX began generating and supplying electricity at its first photovoltaic power generation system with a maximum output of 2 megawatts, located in Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture. In July 2015, the company began operating its second photovoltaic power generation system also with a maximum output of 2 megawatts located adjacent to the first system, through INPEX's wholly owned subsidiary, INPEX Logistics., Ltd. The INPEX Group collectively refers to the two photovoltaic power generation systems as "INPEX Mega Solar Joetsu". The photovoltaic power generation systems combined are expected to generate around 5,330,000kW of electricity per year, which is the equivalent of the annual power consumption of approximately 1,600 households.
Wind power generation business
INPEX is currently pursuing the development of an onshore wind power generation business in Japan. In the future, the company will leverage its experience in the exploration and development of offshore oil and gas fields to proactively pursue business development opportunities in the offshore wind power generation sector both in Japan and in other parts of the world, including partnership strategies on making inroads into the sector.
Artificial Photosynthetic Chemical Process
In recent years, hydrogen has come to be seen as holding tremendous potential as the ultimate renewable energy resource. This is due to the fact that when combusted, hydrogen produces only water. Hydrogen can also be made into hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals by mixing them with carbon dioxide gas, making hydrogen an exceedingly clean source of energy.
INPEX has been participating in the “Japan Technological Research Association of Artificial Photosynthetic Chemical Process” commissioned by NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization) and is engaged in an R&D project aimed at producing chemical products like plastics and hydrocarbon fuel from hydrogen obtained by decomposing water with the use of catalysts using solar energy and CO2.
INPEX is currently involved in the development of methanation technology as one of the company's core technologies. The company strives to create technologies transforming electricity into hydrogen, hydrogen into methane and methane into electricity, as well as build an "electricity-hydrogen-methane value chain" that incorporates INPEX's existing methane production and transportation system.
Methanation is a technology to convert carbon dioxide into a valuable resource like methane. INPEX has been participating as a contractor in a project sanctioned by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) to develop technologies to effectively utilize CO2. As part of this initiative, INPEX is involved in the evaluation of the technological development and production sequence of a carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technology that produces and effectively utilizes methane using a high concentration of CO2 emitted from thermal power plants and hydrogen produced using electricity from renewable energy sources.
High-capacity lithium-ion battery
INPEX has been supporting ELIIY Power Co., Ltd., which is engaged in the development, manufacture and sales of lithium-ion batteries. The company's high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, which are now widespread, can store electricity generated from renewable sources such as solar and wind energy, and provide access to this electricity at any given time. It is expected to contribute to the conservation of the global environment through a more effective use of renewable energy which cannot generate the power timely with the demand.