Geothermal energy

Chevron, Mitsui Team Up To Explore Japan's Geothermal Energy Potential

Geothermal energy has the potential to play a significant role in Japan's energy transition.

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Chevron New Energies and Mitsui Oil Exploration (MOECO) signed a collaboration agreement to explore the technical and commercial feasibility of advanced geothermal power generation in Japan.

The collaboration will study the country’s geothermal resource potential and evaluate the effectiveness of advanced closed loop (ACL) technology for a future pilot project in Japan.

Unlike conventional geothermal projects, which use traditional steam turbines requiring high temperatures often found in concentrated locations limited by geological characteristics, ACL could enable access to geothermal resources at a wider range of temperatures and geologies, according to the companies.

“This collaboration provides an opportunity for Chevron to combine its subsurface capabilities and technologies with MOECO’s intimate knowledge of Japan’s geothermal potential resource geology and its long history of responsible resource development,” Barbara Harrison, vice president of offsets and emerging at Chevron New Energies, said in a statement.

“The joint team will have the opportunity to test emerging geothermal technology in a real-world setting with significant scaling up potential."

The companies said they may also assess potential collaboration for advanced geothermal technology opportunities using ACL globally.

“MOECO entered the geothermal business in 2012 and has been expanding its geothermal portfolio since then. In parallel with conventional geothermal, we have been studying ACL technology for many years, and we believe this collaboration with Chevron utilizing ACL technology could unlock tremendous geothermal resources in Japan,” said Hirotaka Hamamoto, chief executive of MOECO.

Geothermal power has the potential to play a significant role in Japan’s energy transition. The country has the world’s third-highest potential for geothermal energy, according to a recent study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA).

As one of the world’s more economically and industrially advanced nations, Japan also is one of the larger consumers and importers of energy, according to the IREA.

The IREA said in a recent report that, while the country is still heavily reliant on fossil fuel imports, renewables are “starting to play a small but growing role in the energy mix.”

Japan had one of the highest installed capacities for renewable energy power capacity in 2020, ranking third in the world for solar power and pumped storage, seventh for biomass, and 10th for geothermal and hydropower, according to the IREA.