On February 27th, Chugoku Electric Power released an altered plan for the Misumi No. 2 coal-fired power plant located in Hamada city, Shimane prefecture. This plan was originally listed as a project to span 10 years in the “Management plan overview for fiscal 2014”. However, the utility suddenly changed the plan to a “realistic” construction plan. Shimane prefecture released the governor’s views on the plan on that same day, and both the city and the prefecture approved this altered plan on March 13th.
In the altered plan, Misumi No. 2 unit will be built as a USC (Ultra Super Critical) coal-fired power plant with an increased output of 1000MW (compared to the previously planned 400MW). Construction was originally planned to start in 2024, but was changed to start earlier in November 2018. Operations are scheduled to start in November 2022 (originally scheduled for 2027).
As matter of fact, there was a suspicious incident last fall suggesting that the construction plan was to be altered when Kansai Electric Power Co. made a call for bids in October 2014, Chugoku Electric Power apparently tried to make a bid for construction.
On October 10th in 2014, Chugoku Shimbun mentioned the utility was thinking to complete construction on the unit sometime between 2021 and 2023 with an increased power output of 1000MW; although the original plan had construction starting after 2027 with an output of 400MW. In addition, the newspaper reported that Chugoku Electric Power assumed electricity would be supplied to other utilities’ area. However, in another article in the Chugoku Shimbun on November 27th it was announced that Chugoku Electric Power dropped out of the bid the Kansai Electric Power opened and aimed to strengthen their power supply in its own areas. Utilities seem to have been influenced by the local conservatives who asked to prioritize the re-opening of the Shimane nuclear power plant, and doubts about the electricity supply outside local areas.
So why did Chugoku Electric Power alter the plan and drastically raise the output in this new plan? A 1000MW power plant operating at 80% capacity can produce 70 billion kWh per year. It is difficult to expect that electricity demand in areas supplied by Chugoku Electric Power would increase so much within the coming years. Are they thinking to follow suit with the recent waves of new construction plans for additional coal-fired power plants, and sell electricity to other areas?
Furthermore, the president of Chugoku Electric Power, Mr. Karita, stated that this construction plan is an alternative to the outdated coal power plants. However, whether the utility will stop generating thermal power is undecided. The president commented that the utility would consider ways to avoid significant increases of CO2 emissions caused by the altered plan. However, is that even possible?
Wouldn’t this current plan create more problems down the road in the future with increasing dependency on coal-fired thermal energy?
*News papers are in Japanese only.
- Local accepted Misumi No. 2: “Try to meet local’s expectation” Mr. Karita, President at Chugoku Electric Power, commented（March 16th, 2015）
- Chugoku Electric Power: Proposal to alter construction plan for Misumi No.2 (February 27th, 2015)
- Governor of Shimane Prefecture’s statement: Chugoku Electric Power’s altered construction plan for Misumi No. 2 (February 27th, 2015)
- Chugoku Electric Power: Overview of Management Plan for FY 2014 (March 27th, 2014)
- Chugoku Shimbun: Governor of Shimane prefecture’s statement on questioning the expansion of nuclear energy by the expansion of Misumi coal-fired power plant (October 10th, 2014)
- Chugoku Shimbun: Kansai Electric Power postpones bid: Chugoku Electric Power to increase local supply