The Japanese government is seeking to relax procedures on environmental impact in order to make it easier to build more coal fired power plants.

The Nikkei reports that no new project has cleared the government’s environmental impact assessments since chemical manufacturer Tokuyama Corp. (4043) won approval in 2009 to expand a coal-fired plant.
Environment Minister Goshi Hosono
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501), which plans to construct coal fired plants as an alternative to nuclear plants, is expected to file for approval as early as next year under new assessment procedures.

Environmental assessments have long presented a high hurdle for businesses hoping to construct coal fired plants.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will soon begin talks with the Environment Ministry on revising the procedures. They hope to draw up an outline of new guidelines by year-end for implementation in 2013.

The new guidelines are expected to spell out the environmental performance required to pass the assessments.

And the assessments themselves will take less time. Environment Minister Goshi Hosono (pictured) has already indicated that the period will be reduced to slightly more than a year from the current three years or so for upgrades to fossil-fuel power plants

Assessments for wind and geothermal power plant projects are also expected to be accelerated to as little as about 18 months.

Coal power plants are also being promoted because they have been shown to be cheaper to run than oil and LNG fired plants.

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