Minister of Environment Asks Reconsideration to Taketoyo Coal-Fired Power Plant

On August 1st, 2017, it was announced that the Minister of the Environment submitted his opinion to the preparation document for environmental impact assessment (EIA) of replacing project of Taketoyo Power Plants led by Chubu Electric Power Co. in Taketoyo, Aichi to the Minister of Eenergy, Trade and Industry. This project aims to replace three existing plants (electric generation facility with heavy oil fired boiler, total output 1,125MW) with a new coal fired power plant (1,070MW). While the total annual generation of existing three plants is about 450GWh, the new plant is planned to generate about 750GWh. Including the misestimating amount of generation, piled-up problems need the way to be solved. As of 2015, the Minister remarked his statement as “unacceptable” to the EIA first screening documents. The project, therefore, has been exposed to criticism since the beginning. Considering the Paris Agreement being into effect and its Japanese ratification, the Minister gave bitter statement than before.

This statement points out four key facts: 1) the amount of CO2 emission from coal-fired power is two times larger than that of LNG, 2) currently planned coal capacity would already exceed the share of coal in the energy mix (26%) by 2030, 3) there are already too many new/additional installation plans, and 4) to the business operator, it will function as an incentive for coal being preferentially operated than LNG. Based on the above, he raises severe concern about possible increase of the amount of CO2 emission. The statement also mentions the fact that countries who had been dependent on coal, namely China and India, are now moving to shift to reduce coal, and the global trend of decarbonization deprives the possibility for coal to be accepted. It then says that it is necessary to recognize that coal-fired power generation has “extremely high risk” to the business operators from the environmental view point. And Minister suggested that if the developer cannot draw the pathway to reduce CO2 after 2030, the project needs to be reconsidered. The Minister showed his firm attitude to oppose this plan, which clearly goes against the current world trend.

Problems related to coal power takes not only in Taketoyo project. According to the research organization Climate Analytics which studies about the climate change policy, in order to achieve the goal made in Paris, Japan should stop its operation of all existing coal-fired power plant by 2030. Installing the new ones is, therefore, unacceptable option. Business operators should not take the Minister’s statement as a matter of another planet. They must seriously think about it again.