Japan and coal

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This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of Japan and coal.
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In 2002 domestic coal production in Japan came to an end, and ever since the country has been totally reliant on imports, overwhelmingly from Australia.[1] In 2012 Japan was estimated to have imported 133 million tonnes of thermal coal and 53 million tonnes of metallurgical coal for steel production.[2] The Australian government's resources and energy forecaster, the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, projects a small decline of less than 1% a year in Japanese thermal coal consumption to 2018 and a small increase in metallurgical coal demand.

Thermal power stations

Proposed coal-fired power stations

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Unit Plant Company MW Status Prefecture
Hirono power station Unit 6 Hirono power station Tokyo Electric Power Company 600 Operating (2013) Fukushima
Hirono power station Unit 7 Hirono power station Tokyo Electric Power Company 600 Pre-permit development Fukushima
Hirono power station Unit 8 Hirono power station Tokyo Electric Power Company 600 Pre-permit development Fukushima
Hitachinaka power station Unit 2 Hitachinaka power station Tokyo Electric Power Company 1000 Operating Ibaraki
Hitachinaka power station Unit 3 Hitachinaka power station Tokyo Electric Power Company 600 Announced Ibaraki
Matsuura power station Unit 3 Matsuura power station Kyushu Electric Power Company 1000 Announced Nagasaki
Misumi Unit 2 Misumi power station Chugoku Electric Power Company 400 Planning Shimane
Noshiro Unit 3 Noshiro power station Tohoku Electric Power Company 600 Announced Akita
Takehara Unit 4 Takehara power station J-POWER 600 Announced Hiroshima
TEPCO Coal Project Unit 1 TEPCO Coal Project TEPCO Coal Project 500 Announced Fukushima
TEPCO Coal Project Unit 2 TEPCO Coal Project TEPCO Coal Project 500 Announced Fukushima


Existing coal-fired power stations

In 2011, Japan had about 243 GW of installed electrical generating capacity of which 73GW in early 2012 was from conventional thermal electric generating capacity fired by coal, oil or gas. According to Japan Electric Power Information Center, as of mid-2012, there are 61 thermal power plants, and 6 more are under construction: 3 using natural gas and 3 using coal for generation. Coal accounts for roughly 25 percent of electricity generation in 2010.[3]

In total, as of 2008, the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan listed a total of 74 coal fired generation units.[4]

On its website, the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan lists 53 power stations with a capacity of 1,000MW or greater. Of these, 14 are coal-fired and a further two are coal and oil fired stations. Four of the 14 listed coal fired power stations are owned and operated by Electric Power Development Co.,which is commonly referred to by its J-POWER trading name. J-Power is not a member of the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan.[5] The sixteen wholly or partly coal-fired power stations are:

In addition, the Electric Power Development Company, owns and operates three other coal-fired power stations in addition to those listed above.[6] These are:

The impact of the March 2011 Tsunami on Japanese coal plants

On March 11, 2011 a major earthquake off the east coast of Japan caused a massive tsunami which devastated coastal communities and crippled the Fukushima nuclear reactor. Less well known was that the tsunami also had a major impact on a number of Japan's coal-fired power stations and related infrastructure. Coal-fired power stations damaged by the tsunami and earthquake were:[9] [10][11][10]

Company Power station Unit Capacity Nature of damage Recommissioning date
Tohoko Electric Power Company Noshiro Power Station No 1 600
Tohoko Electric Power Company Noshiro Power Station No 2 600
Tohoko Electric Power Company Haramachi Power Station No 1 1000
Tohoko Electric Power Company Haramachi Power Station No 2 1000
TEPCO Hitachinaka Power Station No 1 1000 coal unloader was broken by the tsunami and collapsed into the sea; the coal conveyor system damaged and the site as a whole subsided May 15, 2011
TEPCO Hirono Power Station No 5 600 turbine building flooded and debris are scattered widely across the site July 2011 (the other four oil-fired units were recommissioned the following month)
Sakata Kyodo Power Company Sakata Kyodo Power Station No 1 350 July 2011
Sakata Kyodo Power Company Sakata Kyodo Power Station No 2 350 July 2011
Soma Kyodo Power Company Shinchi Power Station No 1 1000
Soma Kyodo Power Company Shinchi Power Station No 2 1000
Joban Joint Power Company Nakoso Power Station No 7 250
Joban Joint Power Company Nakoso Power Station No 8 600 July 2011
Joban Joint Power Company Nakoso Power Station No 9 600 July 2011
Electric Power Development Company Isogo Power Station No 1 600 March 19, 2011[12]
Joban Joint Power Company Shinchi Power Station No 9 600

Toshimi Tsuchiya, director of Chubu Energy Trading Singapore - a subsidiary of Chubu Electric Power Company - explained in a June 2013 speech at Coaltrans Asia conference that even though only 2 of 48 nuclear units were operating "this situation has not led to an increase in coal consumption.".

The reason, he stated, was that "coal-fired generation has always been used as a base load in Japan and therefore even with the loss of generation output via nuclear, there was little room to increase coal-fired generation. A marginal increase in operational rates at coal-fired stations has been off-set by the loss of capacity damaged in the earthquake."[13]

Tsuchiya stated he believed Japan should build more coal plants but complained that "until now, the largest obstacle in building or expanding coal-fired power plants in Japan was the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Recently, the government announced that they would clarify the EIA criteria and shorten the duration of assessment from three years to a little over one year."

But even so, the Japanese power sector he said, faced a "severe financial situation". While utilities had to bear increased fuel costs of oil, gas and coal after the shutdown of the nuclear fleet, they were constrained by regulated power prices.

"Applications by power utilities for tariff hikes are strictly evaluated by the governing agency in close detail and traditional levels of fuel procurement costs are becoming extremely difficult to transfer onto the tariff that we ask our customers to pay. The rapid depreciation of the yen is also an added obstacle for Japanese power utilities, making it even more important for us to cut down on fuel procurement costs ... The current coal price levels and external pressure no longer allow such mindset [buying premium coal], and have prompted us to move toward burning lower quality coals which demand higher operational care. The current Asian coal market is split into two sub markets - Japan and its “premium price market”, and countries other than Japan, who are moving toward lower quality coals in order to reduce procurement costs."[13]

While noting that there was increased push for new coal plants in Japan, he stated that due to a determination by utilities to reduce fuel costs "new plants will be designed for lower grade coals."[13]

Canadian province and Japan ink deal

In January 2011, Saskatchewan and Japan signed an agreement to work together on clean coal and carbon capture and storage. The Canadian province and the Japan Coal Energy Center — which represents more than 100 companies — signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage more co-operation on so-called clean coal technologies. The province stated the agreement would set the stage for information exchanges and research projects involving scientists and companies in both jurisdictions. The province stated that Japanese investment in Saskatchewan carbon capture and storage projects as a result. Saskatchewan Energy Minister Bill Boyd said the initiative would help industries and utilities reduce their environmental footprints. Saskatchewan is currently Canada's third-largest coal producer and also relies on coal to supply 62 per cent of the province's energy.[14]

Japanese overseas coal plant construction projects

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. "Country Analysis: Japan" EIA, March 2011.
  2. Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, Resources and Energy Quarterly March Quarter 2013, Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, March 2013.
  3. "Country Analysis: Japan" EIA, June 2012.
  4. Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, "Summary of thermal power generation in Japan", Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, November 2007, pages 9-10.
  5. Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, "Principal Thermal Power Plants (1,000MW or greater)", Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, accessed August 2009.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Electric Power Development Co., "Fact Book: 2008", Electric Power Development Co., October 2008, page 15.
  7. Electric Power Development Co., "Fact Book: 2008", Electric Power Development Co., October 2008, page 10.
  8. Chin S. Kuo, "The Mineral Industry of Japan", U.S. Geological Survey, April 2009, page 6.
  9. TEPCO, "Approach 1: Restoration of devastated thermal power station", TEPCO website, accessed April 2013.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake on Coal Thermal Power Generation and Coal Demand", The Institute of Energy Economics Japan, June 6, 2011.
  11. Masaki Shiratori, "Damages of machines and structures in Great East Japan earthquake and Lessons from the disaster", Proceedings of the International Symposium on Engineering Lessons Learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, March 1-4, 2012, Tokyo, Japan, page 146.
  12. Mari Iwata and Simon Hall, "Some Coal-Fired Plants Brought Back Online", Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2011.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Toshimi Tsuchiya, director of Chubu Energy Trading Singapore, "Mr Toshimi Tsuchiya’s speech at Coaltrans Asia", June 2013.
  14. "Saskatchewan and Japan agree to work together on clean coal, carbon capture" The Canadian Press, January 25, 2011.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 "Contract signed for construction of 1,000MW Manjung ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant in Malaysia," Sumitomo corporation press release, August 22, 2013

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