The Petra Nova carbon capture system at the W.A. Parish Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant in Thompson, Texas. Image: Flickr user Roy Luck.

Texas Deepens Economic and Environmental Relations with Japan


In early October, a delegation of 23 Texan business representatives, government officials, and developers departed for Japan to promote Japanese investment and trade in their state. The delegation visited Tokyo and Nagoya of the Aichi Prefecture, and met with more than 600 Japanese business representatives. The Aichi Prefecture signed a memorandum of understanding with Texas’s government in April in hopes to establish a mutually beneficial relationship. As the two sides strengthen their economic relations, they do so with the endeavor to combat climate change.

According to the Texas Governor’s Office, in 2014 Japan was the state’s 4th largest source for foreign direct investment projects, and many are becoming more environmentally-orientated. In August, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Japan’s largest semi-governmental R&D organization, partnered with the University of Texas at Austin by funding the university with $13 million to improve energy efficiency in the state’s data centers and facilities.

On the environmental front, Japan and Texas are collaborating to mitigate the impacts of climate change through a 50/50 joint venture of the world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture plantoutside Houston. The carbon-capture system known as Petra Nova, run by Houston-based NRG and Tokyo-based JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration, is designed to capture flue gas and filter out 90%, 1.6 million tons, of the CO2, particulates, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides emitted by the plant annually. The excess CO2 will then be transferred to an oilfield nearby. The project is a result of a joint effort between Japanese and US industries and institutions, such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Sargent & Lundy, and the University of Texas.

The US is joining hands with Asian countries to combat the consequences of environmental degradation. In January 2016, California and Australia collaborated to promote the development and usage of clean energy to reduce the use of nonrenewable and polluting energy sources. Meanwhile, the Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Southeastern University from China as well as the University of North Dakota and University of Utah are collaborating to create clean-coal fired power plants with reduced greenhouse gas emission.

Chien-Chou “Antonio” Liao is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a Recent Graduate of American University's School of International Service.