The Japanese government has opted to relax resistance to the development of coal-fired power plants and according to statistics released by the International Energy Agency Clean Coal Centre, the move is a good one, when taking into account the country’s leadership in developing clean coal technology.

Japan aims to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 26 per cent by 2030, compared to 2013.
Isogo coal-fired power plant
According to data furnished by the IEA CCC, it installed its first ultrasupercritical (USC) unit in 1993 and all units built subsequently are also USC and operate at over 40 per cent efficiency. Japan consumes about 175 mt/y of coal.

The global average CO2 emissions from coal-fired plants are about 958 gCO2/kWh, while emissions from Japanese USC plants are 806 gCO2. The country is also developing advanced USC technology which may be established this year.

Deborah Adams of the IEA CCC told Power Engineering International: “A USC plant will have emissions of about 710 gCO2/kWh. By 2020, Japan hopes to have developed IGCC technology emitting CO2 at 650 gCO2/kWh, and in 2025 an integrated coal gasification fuel cell combined cycle operating at 55 per cent efficiency and emitting only 590 gCO2/kWh. It also has research efforts underway on CCS.”

“So Japan is already committed to energy efficiency and reducing emissions of CO2, and is a leader in the development of these important technologies which can reduce emissions of CO2 from coal-fired plant by more than 25 per cent from the global average in the near future.”

There has been criticism of the government for going against the grain in the developed world in continuing to use coal, however Tokyo says it will monitor power facilities to ensure environmental stipulations are met.

“We will monitor and check annually on progress. If we find the power industry cannot reach its goal, we will consider new measures,” Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa said after meeting with industry minister Motoo Hayashi to seal the agreement.

The country’s environment ministry initially issued objections to five new coal-fired stations in 2015 but the industry ministry has persuaded them to accept voluntary steps by power companies to curb emissions.

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