RD20 Chair summary
1. Experts and leaders from industry, the financial community and academia met in Tokyo for three international conferences: TCFD Summit, ICEF and RD20. The purpose was to discuss the specific and collaborative initiatives needed to realize the concept of a “virtuous cycle of the environment and growth”. Leaders of research institutes from G20 members met at the first RD20 conference.
2. Points raised during the conference were as follows:
(1) We discussed the importance of innovation in energy and the environment to resolve climate change issues.
(2) We confirmed the latest status of each institute’s activities and future direction in clean energy R&D. Topics under discussion include innovative technologies such as hydrogen utilization and CCUS.
3. Challenges common to the research of each institute are as follows:
(1) There is urgent need for early enhancement of R&D for large-scale implementation of renewable energy.For this, there is a need to establish a system that is economical, environmentally friendly, socially acceptable, and meets safety standards for supplying electric, thermal and transportation energy derived from renewable energy.
(2) Challenges differ according to country or sector. However, in terms of electricity, the development of a flexible energy management system that includes storage, is need to cope with fluctuation in supply and demand. For the industrial and transportation sectors, promotion of renewable energy implementation through electrification and hydrogen utilization, etc. is needed.
4. As an outcome of the first RD20 conference, participants shared the same awareness regarding the following:
(1) The role played by R&D institutions from G20 members, their mutual collaborations, and international standardization is crucial.For this, there is a need to establish a system that is economical, environmentally friendly, socially acceptable, and meets safety standards for supplying electric, thermal and transportation energy derived from renewable energy.
(2) It is important to develop specific joint R&D projects among RD20 members by strengthening existing collaborations and building alliances.
(3) “RD20 Now and Future,” a collection of abstracts of today’s presentations by the participating institutions, could be a potential roadmap for future international collaborations.
(4) Collaboration with ICEF is beneficial.
5. This conference shows we are heading in a similar direction, even though the stages of R&D vary from country to country. I would like to emphasize that we were able to share this awareness among G20 researchers.
6. The successful outcome and momentum of the first RD20 conference will be carried further, and the second RD20 will be held in Japan in October, 2020.
RD20 conference summary
Video message: Mr. SUGAWARA, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry SUGAWARA stated that RD20’s objective was to strengthen the network of 120,000 researchers across 20 participating countries and to accelerate innovation. The former minister related that he had keenly felt the impact of climate change on our lives when visiting a typhoon-affected area earlier this year, and that this had reconvinced him of the need for bringing people together to find solutions. He introduced some measures by the Japanese government to tackle climate change and expressed hope for lively discussion at RD20 toward the achievement of challenging discontinuous innovation together.
Special Talk: Mr. TANAKA, Chair, Innovation for Cool Earth Forum (ICEF) Steering Committee
Mr. TANAKA underscored the importance of an immediate peaking and further strong decline of CO2 emissions through discontinuous innovation and introduced the ICEF’s initiatives towards this end. He introduced the four energy-sector revolutions predicted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) two years ago and a fifth one he himself had identified, namely, demand-driven energy transformation. He believes that demand-side change resulting from more companies using only renewable energy amid an increase in investment toward environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) would accelerate energy-sector transformation.
Special Talk: Mr. UCHIYAMADA, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Toyota Motor Corporation
Mr. UCHIYAMADA said that Toyota positioned environmental issues as its top management priority. He introduced the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 and other measures and revealed that Toyota, which sees the hydrogen-gas-powered Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) as the ultimate eco-friendly car, planned to release the next-generation Mirai at the end of 2020 and to develop commercial FCEVs. He said Toyota would provide vehicle electrification systems to other manufacturers free of charge, make 23,700 of its patents publicly available to accelerate the spread of EVs, and give us a glimpse of a hydrogen-based society at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Special Talk: Prof. FUJISHIMA, Distinguished Professor, Tokyo University of Science
Prof. FUJISHIMA described his discovery of titanium dioxide photocatalysis, which was published in Nature in 1972. Because of its low energy conversion efficiency, he turned his focus to other characteristics of titanium dioxide and contributed to the development of a technology now used in hospital operation room walls, the side mirrors of cars, etc. However, thanks to the efforts of other researchers working on artificial photosynthesis, the energy conversion efficiency of titanium dioxide has improved, and Dr. Fujishima introduced the example of a Miyazaki prefecture project. He also explained how CO2 could be reduced using diamond electrodes.
Special Talk: Mr. KITAMURA, Vice Chairperson, Carbon Recycle Fund Institute
Mr. KITAMURA stressed the need to tackle climate change and improve energy access through innovation, citing some SDG targets. Describing 2019 as the first year of carbon recycling, he emphasized the need to reduce cost and improve the productivity of innovative technologies. He explained that the mission of his Institute was to raise funds from the private sector, fund entities conducting research on or development of carbon recycling technologies, and create international regulations, and called for cooperation from the public.
Session 1 Invited Talks
Representatives of 17 institutions from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, the EU, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UK made presentations about their R&D activities in the area of clean energy technologies and about their international collaboration efforts. Many introduced their research on hydrogen, solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass and other clean energies, gave examples of their international collaboration efforts, and mentioned their countries’ greenhouse gas emission targets. Alongside technical information, broader concepts such as cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary collaboration, citizen engagement and empowerment, and the circular economy, were also brought up.
Session 2 Invited Talks
Representatives of participating institutions from seven countries presented their cutting-edge research on hydrogen and carbon recycling. France stressed the need for clean, smart, sustainable and economically viable energy systems, while Germany explained how photovoltaics were becoming the cheapest source of electricity. Italy illustrated its approach to the production of clean hydrogen, while Australia and South Africa revealed intentions to leverage their natural resources to become hydrogen exporters. Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) introduced its novel technologies and materials, while the US touched upon some important areas of work such as inter-conversion between different kinds of energy.
Director of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology Tetsuhiko Kobayashi briefly summarized each participant’s presentation topic, followed by a brief comment from each participant. Many participants expressed their appreciation of the conference and some mentioned specific areas in which they would like to seek collaboration. Many speakers raised points for further consideration, including consideration of global standards and frameworks, studying social implications and behavioral aspects, life cycle analysis and evaluation of environmental impacts, engaging the government and industry, involving young scientists, large scale verification of new technologies, and quantification of the benefits of energy transformation, among others.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Shuhei Aoyama and Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of the Environment Tetsuya Yagi delivered the closing remarks on behalf of the co-organizers. Citing the Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Mr. Yoshino and his fellow researchers for the development of lithium-ion batteries, Mr. Aoyama emphasized the importance of solving social issues through creation of knowledge by research. Mr. Yagi mentioned the “virtuous cycle of environment and growth through innovation,” the concept for Japan’s long-term strategy, and introduced several government measures in this regard. He concluded by expressing hope for the expansion of international collaboration through RD20.