Spotlight Activity: Cancellation of one of Japan’s largest coal-fired power plants project in the Tokyo Bay Area
On January 31, 2019, Tokyo Gas Co., Kyushu Electric Power Co., and Idemitsu Kosan Co. jointly announced their decision to abandon to build a massive coal-fired power plant in Sodegaura City, Chiba Prefecture. These three project sponsors planned to construct a coal-fired power plant with a maximum total of 2 million kilowatts in two mid-2020s.
In Japan, after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the proportion of natural gas, oil and coal is increasing due to the increase in thermal power generation as a substitute, while many of the nuclear power plants are stopped. Furthermore, with the full liberalization of electricity retailing in 2016, large electric power or gas companies planned to construct coal-fired power plants and develop their market in the metropolitan area.
However, in order to clear the standards of the Energy Conservation Law, the three companies later had to add not only the initially planned coal-fired power but also equipment to co-firing coal and woody biomass. Therefore, they “have concluded that the project cannot yield initially expected investment returns” as capital investment and procurement costs of wood chips will increase.
With respect to coal-fired power generation, in addition to the large emission of CO2, a problem is the emission of harmful air pollutants. According to the Paris Agreement, our society has to make the global greenhouse gas emissions substantially zero in the second half of the 21st century. The decarbonisation movement is accelerating internationally.
France, Canada, and the UK have announced to set the operation of coal-fired power to zero by 2030.
Although coal-fired power is criticized for going against the Paris agreement, Tokyo gas insisted that this trend did not directly affect this decision. In addition, Kyushu Electric President Kazuhiro Ikebe also stressed that this judgment does not mean denying coal-fired power. In fact, Kyushu Electric Power Co. is now constructing coal-fired power plants in other areas in Japan.
Tokyo Gas and Kyushu Electric Power will change the fuel to LNG and plan to continue the new thermal power plant plan.
Status: Moving Forward
The Activity, as reported, moves the country forward in fulfilling its Paris Agreement pledge to meeting a net zero emissions target in Paris Agreement, it is important to phase out coal-fired power plants, as coal-powered plants are the most carbon-intensive fuel among all fossil fuels. In Japan, on the other hand, since the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident, major reviews of the energy plan were conducted, and new construction plans of coal-fired power plants were moving forward. However, in recent years, due to the weakened demand for domestic electricity, expansion of renewable energy, opposition movements by residents, spread of divestment, etc., the plans are canceled one after another. In this context, the cancellation of the Sodegaura plan which was expected to have the largest capacity in Japan is a proper decision and we welcome it.
Dear Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Hiroshige Seko,
Regarding coal-fired power, the government considers coal as an important base-load source that is excellent in stable supply and economy under the Fifth Energy Basic Plan. However, coal-fired power plants account for a large portion of the CO2 emissions in Japan. We request to move away from coal-fired power generation at an early stage so as not to be left behind by the trend of decarbonization in the world.
Also, from the viewpoint of health and environmental impacts on our neighborhoods, we request an immediate stop to the construction of coal-fired power plants, which will be a hotbed of air and water pollution. Careful discussion of LNG-fired power is also necessary in the future.
Send Action Alert Message to:
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Secretariat of the Agency for
Natural Resources and Energy Director General Affairs Division
Strategic Planning Division Tanaka
Person in charge: Akamatsu, Tomizawa, Ozawa
Phone: 03-3501-1511 (extension 4471)