Decarbonization of society is now an urgent issue for all humankind, and Japan aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by 46% compared to 2013. The use of solar energy is imperative to solving this challenge, but its use is still not sufficient. In order to cover Japan’s annual energy consumption with solar energy, about 4% of the country’s land would need to be covered with “solar cell” panels, but only half that amount would be needed if the current conversion efficiency were doubled. In addition, since solar heat and waste heat can also be converted into electricity, it is also essential to improve the performance of “heat storage materials” that can store heat directly and “thermoelectric materials” that can convert heat into electricity. Moreover, in order to stably use solar energy for electric power, which is affected by the daily weather and daylight condition, it is necessary to improve the performance of “storage batteries” for nighttime use electricity stored during the day and “hydrogen storage materials” for wintertime use electricity stored in summer. Furthermore, the key is the modularization and systematization that enables the creation of innovative energy storage materials that exceed existing performance.
At the Collaborative Research Center on Energy Materials, IMR, we accelerate materials science research that is indispensable for the creation of innovative energy materials and hybridized modules, that contribute to the utilization of solar energy and the maximization of the three “storages”, and aim to realize a carbon-neutral society by 2050.