Japan re-embraces coal power

The Japanese government has decided to relax its opposition to coal-fired power.

The country’s environment ministry 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.
Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa
Environmentalists say the change in attitude jeopardises Japan’s pledge to reduce CO2, however the ministry stated that it is monitoring stations to ensure enough is being done to meet carbon limits.

Japan is readying to open up its power retail market in April, and companies are rushing to build 43 coal-fired plants or 20.5 gigawatt of capacity in coming years, about a 50 per cent increase.

As part of the agreement, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is set to tighten its rules over coal-fired power stations from April 1, including issuing new non-binding requirements on the heat efficiency of new and existing plants to curb emissions.

“We will also 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.

A group of 36 power companies, which supply 99 percent of the country’s electricity, have also formed a new body to take measures to trim emissions and meet the industry’s voluntary goal to cut emissions by 35 percent in 2030, compared with 2013.

Since the Fukushima incident the island nation has come to rely more and more on the cheaper alternative of coal-fired power.

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