Japanese companies are planning to develop about 45 additional coal power plants in the next decade, as the country gradually ramps up its nuclear power generation following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the US Energy Information Administration said Thursday.
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"The country is installing new, clean coal plant technologies, such as ultra-supercritical units or integrated gasification combined-cycle technology, to meet environmental targets and to replace some of the decades-old coal power plants," EIA said.
While no significant coal-fired capacity is expected to come online before 2020, the 45 new coal power plants are expected to add more than 20 GW of capacity in the next decade, it said.
"The pace of development depends on how many nuclear units can return to service and whether the government will grant environmental approvals to each coal-fired power plant in light of Japan's commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emission levels by 2030," it said.
Coal's share in Japan's power sector was an estimated 23% before the Fukushima disaster in 2011 and rose to 31% by 2015. The government is now planning for coal to account for 26% of the market share by 2030, EIA said.
By the end of 2017, Japan will have 42 operable nuclear reactors, with a combined installed net generating capacity of about 40 GW, down from 54 reactors with 47 GW of combined capacity in 2010, it said.
Coal is also expected to displace some of the expensive oil-fired power generation, EIA said.
"Oil remains the largest source of primary energy in Japan, although its share of total energy consumption has declined from about 80% in the 1970s to 42% in 2015," it said.
Japan's increased requirement of coal will be met by imports, as the country's domestic coal production dwindled to virtually nothing by 2002 and it began importing all of its coal, primarily from Australia.
"Imports [of coal] grew to 210 million short tons of coal in 2015 from 193 million short tons in 2011, after more coal-fired generation capacity came online," the EIA said.
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