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Japan’s coal power plants face headwinds over CO2

TOKYO — Power companies’ plans to construct coal power plants to secure low-cost electricity are facing headwinds in Japan, as the Environment Ministry has raised objections from the viewpoint of preventing global warming.

On November 13, Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa said the ministry cannot approve a coal-fired power plant that Kansai Electric Power Co. and TonenGeneral Sekiyu K.K. plan to construct in Ichihara, Chiba prefecture, and another coal-fired power plant that KEPCO and Marubeni Corp. plan to build in Akita. Since June, the ministry has raised objections to the construction of five coal-fired power plants, including these two.

A coal-fired power plant emits nearly twice as much carbon dioxide as a natural gas-fired power plant per unit of electricity generated. The government has set a target of trimming greenhouse gas emissions by 26 per cent compared to fiscal 2013 by fiscal 2030. The ministry says too many coal-fired power plants will make it difficult to achieve this goal.

“It’s already uncertain if the goal can be attained,” a senior ministry official said. “It is the Environment Ministry that takes responsibility in the end.”

Coal-fired power plants, which emit a large amount of carbon dioxide, are coming under increasing criticism globally. Britain has announced that it will abolish them in principle by 2025 while the United States is shifting to natural gas-fired power plants.

The power industry has been promoting coal-fired power plants because their power generation cost is cheaper than that of oil-fired and liquefied natural gas power plants.

The cost of coal-fired power generation is one-third of that of oil-fired power generation and half of that of large-scale solar power generation. It is about 10 per cent lower than that of LNG power generation.

The competition in the power industry will likely intensify after the retail sale of electricity is fully liberalised in April. Given the circumstances, power companies and new entrants want to boost their price competitiveness by promoting the construction of coal-fired power plants.

“New entrants cannot compete without coal-fired power plants,” Osaka Gas Co. president Takehiro Honjo said. Osaka Gas plans to construct a coal-fired power plant in Yamaguchi prefecture.

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This article was from The Japan News, Tokyo / Asia News Network and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.