On February 1, Kobe Power Station Unit 4 (650MW) started its commercial operation. This is the second unit of two coal-fired power units constructed by KOBELCO in Nada Ward, Kobe City.
Two coal-fired power units (Kobe Power Station Units 1 and 2, 700MW x 2 units) were already in operation inside the Kobe Wire Rod & Bar Plant. At this same location, two new units (Units 3 and 4) have been under construction since 2018. Unit 3 had begun commercial operation in February 2022, and the power generation capacity of Units 3 and 4 combined is 1.3 GW (650 MW x 2 units), and 2.7 GW in total for all four units. All of the electricity generated at this plant has been contractually supplied to Kansai Electric Power for 30 years.
The area surrounding the Kobe coal-fired power plant is a place that has been plagued by severe air pollution, and even today, the local government takes special measures to prevent air pollution. Coal-fired power plants, with their high GHG emissions, is a significant obstacle for effective climate change action. Led by No Coal Kobe, citizens concerned about environmental degradation have voiced their opposition to KOBELCO’s project.
Two lawsuits have been filed against the construction and operation of Units 3 and 4 are currently ongoing. One is an administrative lawsuit against the government for approving the construction. This lawsuit is currently being appealed to Japan’s Supreme Court. The other is an injunctive lawsuit against Kobe Steel, its subsidiary Kobelco Power Kobe No. 2, and Kansai Electric Power, the recipient of the electricity generated. It is currently pending in the Kobe District Court.
No Coal Kobe released a statement following Kobe Unit 4’s start of commercial operation:
“Climate change issues have become an imminent danger to each and every one of us as a pollution problem that brings with it serious human rights violations. A ruling on a civil lawsuit seeking an injunction against the construction and operation of the power units is scheduled for March 20. We hope the court will make a fair ruling and grant an injunction against the operation of the coal-fired power plant in order to protect the right of future generations to live peacefully with clean air and a stable climate.”
Although Unit 4 has begun operation, it is necessary to closely watch for the court’s decision on March 20. On the day of the ruling, the debriefing session will be available to view online.