In September 2015, all 193 members of the UN signed up to the 2030 Agenda, a plan to eliminate poverty, unfairness and injustice wherever possible, protect the environment, and create a better future. One of the key features of the agenda was the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which set out a vision for how the world should be by the year 2030. Following on from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which the international community had been working on for 15 years since 2001, the SDGs are positioned as universal goals applicable to all countries.
Rather than relying solely on national governments, the SDGs also require companies and members of the public to take action all over the world. The SDG Compass is a guide to show companies how they should be using the SDGs, published jointly by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), UN Global Compact, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). It provides the following explanation.
“Unlike their predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs explicitly call on all businesses to apply their creativity and innovation to solve sustainable development challenges. The SDGs have been agreed by all governments, yet their success relies heavily on action and collaboration by all actors. The SDGs present an opportunity for business-led solutions and technologies to be developed and implemented to address the world’s biggest sustainable development challenges.”
Yuzawa Geothermal Power Corporation—which we established through a joint investment with Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. (J-POWER) and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company, Inc. (MGC)—won the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy Commissioner's Prize (Introduction Activities Category) at the 2020 New Energy Awards, presented by the New Energy Foundation.
Wasabizawa Geothermal Power Plant in Yuzawa, Akita, entered operation on May 20, 2019. It is a double flash geothermal power plant with a capacity of 46,199kW*, and the first large-scale geothermal power plant with an output capacity exceeding 10,000kW to be built in Japan in 23 years. In constructing this plant, we paid particular consideration to the environment, such as in the preservation of rare plant, animal and insect species, and are working with a priority on harmonious coexistence with the local community, such as responding to the needs of hot spring operators. The plant has operated smoothly so far, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to increasing the amount of power generated through geothermal power generation. The prize was awarded in recognition of these efforts.
The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) conducted a geothermal development promotion survey of the Appi area. Based on the results of this survey, we discussed and planned the commercialization of geothermal power generation in this area with Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company, Inc. (MGC) since fiscal 2005.
After mineral resource assessment and environmental impact assessment, Appi Geothermal Energy Corporation (hereinafter, "Appi Geothermal Energy"), which we established through a joint investment with MGC and Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. (J-POWER), began constructing the Appi Geothermal Plant in August 2019.
Regarding the construction, land reclamation and road construction work, excavating work (four production wells and three reinjection wells), and work on ground equipment such as steam systems and power generation facilities are in progress. Civil engineering and building work for fiscal 2021 were finished almost as planned. In addition, in the excavating work for constructing production wells, the depth of excavation reached 400 meters as planned, and the work was resumed in May 2021. With the construction of this environmentally friendly geothermal plant with a capacity of 14,900 kW, Appi Geothermal Energy aims to contribute to controlling CO2 emissions and ensuring a stable power supply. We will proceed with construction with safety as the top priority, aiming for the plant to begin operations in April 2024.
Our consolidated subsidiary New Energy Fujimino Co., Ltd. ("NEFC") signed an agreement on specified wholesale supply of renewable energy with The Earth Club Co., Ltd. ("The Earth Club"), and started specified wholesale supply as of December 1,2020.
NEFC processes food waste output by food-related business operators such as food production plants and retail stores, generates electricity using the obtained biogas, and sells the power which FIT(Feed-In Tariffs: a fixed-price purchasing system for renewable energy) is applied.
The Earth Club was established in June 2014 as a subsidiary of the Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union (JCCU) to promote generation and use of renewable energy in an integrated manner. It engages in electric power retail business operations, selling electricity to the offices and union members of Consumers' Co-operative CO-OP Mirai (“CO-OP Mirai”) and various other Consumers' Co-operatives.Food waste—the raw material for power generation at NEFC—also includes waste output from related facilities, including CO-OP Deli Consumers’ Co-operative Union distribution centers and CO-OP Mirai stores. Under the agreement, electric power generated by NEFC will be supplied to these related facilities via The Earth Club, and a cycle-based recycling system—in which renewable energy generated from food waste is supplied to food waste producers—will be created.
In September 2020, we commenced full-scale operation of Team CLEANBRIGHT, a company-wide project for facilitating the development of products and applications for copper as practical items for daily use, with a focus on the sterilization ability of this material. Team CLEANBRIGHT is a cross-company project team that brings together staffs from areas such as manufacturing, R&D, marketing and intellectual property, with a primary focus on sales. Responding to the spread of COVID-19 in the global scale, the team absorbs information on various needs to protect the safety of people's lives from infectious diseases, and works to identify potential applications for parts and materials that are in contact with a large number of people, such as in offices, public facilities, and the medical and welfare fields.
Copper has the potential property for removing various bacteria and viruses through the effect of metal ions on its surface. CLEANBRIGHT, developed by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, is a copper alloy that maintains the disinfectant and antiviral properties of copper while at the same time preventing color irregularities due to discoloration, and is expected to be used as a sanitary material for areas frequently touched with bare hands.
As a metal product, CLEANBRIGHT offers excellent strength and workability / ease of processing, making it easy for customers to give shape to their ideas. In addition to sheet and coil, we can also supply welded pipes and tubes, and offer a wide lineup of thicknesses ranging from 0.1mm to 3.0mm for use in various fields. With the cooperation of Kitasato University Hospital, which has been focusing on the effectiveness of copper alloys in combating infectious diseases Measures for some time, we are working to utilize the disinfectant power of copper as a sanitary material. Many door handles made from CLEANBRIGHT are being used to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases in the examination rooms and patient rooms of the new main hospital building, which opened in 2014.
We will contribute to realize prosperous society that people can live with safe and healthy through using CLEANBRIGHT in various aspect in the daily life.
Exterior view of Kitasato University Hospital
We purchased 10% of Masan High-Tech Materials Corporation’s (MHT) stock in December 2020.
By building a strategic partnership with MHT, we will launch a joint tungsten recycling business that utilizes the global bases of the MHT Group, and we also are looking into collaboration in midstream tungsten business, including technical partnerships related to the production of high-quality tungsten powder.
Furthermore, MHT has the rights to the Nui Phao Mine (Thai Nguyen Province, Vietnam), which boasts one of the world’s largest tungsten reserves and the ability to smelt ore into high value-added tungsten compounds, and we will work to stably procure tungsten, which is the raw material for cemented carbide products.
We have set a reduction target to achieve carbon neutrality with effectively zero greenhouse gas emissions across the Group by fiscal 2051. At the same time, we conducted a scenario analysis of the impact of climate-related risks and opportunities on our business and finances based on the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
In order to achieve our mission of contributing to building a decarbonized society, we have recently set the medium and long-term targets of reducing the Group's overall greenhouse gas emissions by at least 17% by fiscal 2031 (in comparison with fiscal 2014), and achieving carbon neutrality by fiscal 2051. In particular, in our product-type businesses (Advanced Products Business and Metalworking Solutions Business) we will work actively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with the goal of reducing emissions by at least 30%by fiscal 2031. As one of our reduction measures, we have set the goal of supplying at least 20% of the electric power used in the Group's businesses with renewable energy by fiscal 2031.
• Scope 1: Direct GHG emissions by business operators
• Scope 2: Indirect emissions resulting from the use of electricity, heat, and steam supplied by other companies
We are advancing the development of CCU (carbon capture and utilization) technology using carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from the Group's plants. Having set ourselves the mission of contributing to building a decarbonized society, as one part of our vision for the future, we have established the medium and long-term targets of reducing the Group's overall greenhouse gas emissions by at least 17% by fiscal 2031 (in comparison with fiscal 2014), and achieving carbon neutrality by fiscal 2051. With these targets in mind, we are working to develop technologies for synthesis of methane and various other products by separating and recovering CO2 emitted from manufacturing processes using cement firing kilns or other high-temperature heating furnaces and reacting it with hydrogen. In July 2021, we started demonstration tests at the Kurosaki Production Section, Kyushu Plant. Moving forward, we will also work to develop technologies for reusing the methane, etc., obtained in this way as a source of thermal energy for cement manufacturing. Through these kinds of initiatives, we will recover and use CO2 emitted from manufacturing processes using cement firing kilns or other high-temperature heating furnaces, for which it is difficult to reduce emissions with conventional energy-saving measures and electrification. By using carbon-neutral thermal energy in this way, we will attempt to reduce the consumption of coal and similar energy resources to reduce CO2 emissions from our cement plants. In the future, we will advance our technology development efforts for a wide range of applications, including conversion to other valuable substances aside from methane.
Through the MMC Innovation Investment Limited Partnership* a corporate venture capital investing primarily in venture companies with materials technologies, we have invested in Enecoat Technologies Co., Ltd., which aims to market perovskite solar cells.
Perovskite solar cells are a type of solar cell formed by applying layers of perovskite crystals (crystals with the same structure as calcium titanate, the mineral perovskite discovered by Russian researcher Lev Perovski) etc., to a substrate. They are lighter in weight and can be formed with around 1/100th the thickness of crystalline silicon solar cells currently in typical use. They are also bendable and can be installed in a diverse range of locations, and are therefore expected to gain widespread popularity as the next generation of solar cells. In addition to working to develop perovskite solar cells with higher power generation efficiency and durability, the Kyoto University startup EneCoat Technologies is currently also advancing the development of lead-free solar cells, that will replace the lead contained in those solar cells with alternative materials.
In addition to investing in EneCoat Technologies, we collaborate with this company in researching and developing technologies that help improve the durability of perovskite solar cells and the peripheral materials needed to make them lead-free, among other things. In this way, we will continue to make uncompromising efforts to ensure manufacturing focused on reducing environmental impact.
On June 5, 2020, Mitsubishi Materials and the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) signed a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of MMC—NIMS Center of Excellence for Materials Informatics Research.
The R&D center will combine the NIMS materials informatics development infrastructure* with various other elements such as experimental data, analytical models, and rules of thumb accumulated through MMC's materials R&D efforts to build informatics-driven materials development system, predicting the performance and longevity of practical materials manufactured by combining multiple materials and processes. By 2025, we will aim to build a system covering the development of non-ferrous metals, thin-film materials and inorganic / organic composite materials. We are also working to increase the sophistication of R&D and production processes by incorporating innovative technologies such as IoT, AI and robotics. By constructing this system with NIMS and incorporating it into our R&D efforts, we aim to significantly shorten the time required for data collection and analysis which has been conducted mostly by human researchers until now. This will enable speedier and more efficient product development in key areas that we are focused on, including IoT and AI, next-generation vehicles, urban mines, clean energy and decarbonization.
In June 2020, we invested (through MMC Innovation Investment Limited Partnership*) in CONNEXX SYSTEMS Corporation, a startup that is engaged in research and development of next-generation storage cells.
As one approach toward its group-wide policy of creating new products and business, the Group is engaged in proactive efforts to develop technologies for the reuse and recycling of used xEV (electric vehicle) lithium-ion batteries (used automotive LiBs). Specifically, we aim to build a mineral resource recycling system through the establishment of technologies for recovering used automotive LiBs, reusing those that are reusable as fixed storage batteries, etc., or extracting and recycling rare metals such as cobalt and nickel from those that are not reusable.
CONNEXX SYSTEMS has sophisticated battery development and production technologies, and sells batteries in which overall performance has been improved through the integration of lithium-ion and lead-acid battery, etc. Going forward, we will be working with CONNEXX SYSTEMS in the development of fixed storage batteries for use by renewable energy power plant operators, medical institutions and other markets for which there is expected to be high demand, and to drive the used automotive LiB reuse and recycling business.
In June 2020, we joined the Challenge Zero* initiative established by the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren). Dealing with climate change has been one of the Group's most important tasks for building a decarbonized society. As a reflection of this, the Group has been approaching manufacturing with consideration for reducing the environmental impact, and has developed and promoted the use of renewable sources of energy, such as geothermal energy. The Group has now joined the Challenge Zero* project. In this project, the Group will deploy technologies, products, and services, that contribute to building a decarbonized society, in Japan and in other countries. The Group will also proactively collaborate with companies from the same industry and from other industries, and also with academia, government organizations, and others,thereby committing itself further to resolving issues related to climate change. Information about specific initiatives the Group is engaged in as a part of Challenge Zero will be provided on the official Challenge Zero website maintained by the Keidanren.