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The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Monday it plans to set up facilities in Japan and abroad to capture and store carbon dioxide underground in an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

By using carbon dioxide capture and geological storage technology, known as CCS, Japan aims to reduce carbon dioxide emitted from factories and power plants within the nation by 200 million tons annually with half to be disposed of in Japan and the other half abroad, the ministry said.

It marks the first time the ministry has set a numerical target to cut carbon dioxide emissions using CCS technology. The target of 200 million tons is equivalent to a sixth of current domestic carbon dioxide emissions.

The government plans to spearhead research, build facilities and seek necessary legislation with the aim of making CCS technology one of the main methods of reducing emissions, METI said.

It intends to take the lead in developing technology and establishing technology demonstration systems until the cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions reaches around 3,000 yen per ton, as well as in conducting on-site research and safety assessments.

Outside Japan, the government plans to support CCS utilization in combination with natural gas mining, thereby obtaining carbon credits from developing countries by around 2010.

Utilizing CCS technology in Japan had previously been considered difficult due to the lack of suitable land and expensive land prices.

But according to recent studies, it is estimated that 150 billion tons of carbon dioxide could be captured and stored underground nationwide.

The recent studies demonstrate the possibility of reducing costs by developing technology combining CCS and coal-fired power plants.

International rules are expected to be established in the near future to count developed nations’ carbon dioxide reduction using CCS technology in developing countries along with developed nations’ own reductions.

A growing number of companies are showing interest in utilizing CCS technology abroad, where it could be conducted at a lower cost.

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