【News】GENESIS Matsushima Project: Citizens’ voices ignored in response to public comments
At the end of October 2021, the call for opinions on the “Document on Primary Environmental Impact Consideration” (referred to hereinafter as the “Consideration Document”) prepared by J-Power as part of the environmental assessment procedure for the GENESIS Matsushima Project was closed, and the results were published.
JBC news article on the call for opinions – click here
A number of organizations, including Japan Beyond Coal, called for opinions to be submitted from citizens, and as a result, 855 opinion letters from citizens were received by J-Power. Although many of them expressed strong opposition and concern about the implementation of the GENESIS Matsushima Project, J-Power’s response was limited to formalities, merely repeating much of what was written in the Consideration Document and copy-pasting from J-Power’s mid- to long-term plan.
Summary of the comments on the Consideration Document submitted at the planning stage and the views of J-Power (Handout 3, 58th Nagasaki Environmental Impact Assessment Review Meeting) [Japanese]
Unfortunately, J-Power’s response leaves us wondering whether they are taking seriously the following problems of this project, as pointed out in many of the submitted comments.*
- This is just another way to extend the life of coal power
The project will add a coal gasification unit so that an extremely old coal-fired power plant that first started operation in 1981 can continue to be used. If this plan is implemented, it will lock in CO2 emissions for a significant time into the future.
- These “innovative technologies” will require a substantial amount of time to implement
Through this project, J-Power seems to be hoping to gain a foothold in the commercialization of the technologies used in this gasification unit, the future use of hydrogen and ammonia in power generation, and the realization of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). However, the continued use of coal in power generation as an excuse for research and development of technologies that are not yet ready to be realized will lead to long-term CO2 emissions, making it more difficult to achieve the 1.5°C target in the Paris Agreement and the 2050 net-zero declaration by former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
- This project is inconsistent with the Paris Agreement, on its way to becoming a stranded asset
The discussions at the recently held COP26 show that a clear international consensus has been established against coal-fired power generation, and this project has a high risk of becoming a stranded asset, unable to operate for the period of time necessary to recover the initial investment.
What does GENESIS Matsushima mean for the future?
When the plan was first announced, Saikai City, the municipality where the project will be located, expressed its full support for the project, citing the realization of a decarbonized society, the ripple effect on employment and the local economy, as well as the economic effect on Nagasaki Prefecture, which has an advantage in the area of power plants. The plan states that it hopes to introduce “a system using coal gasification technology that will be the first step toward CO2-free hydrogen power generation and production”, but will this plan really lead to a decarbonized future?
“At last, a big step toward becoming a ‘model region for a decarbonized society’!” (Saikai City) [Japanese]
As explained above, there are a number of problems with this project, and the opinions submitted show that many citizens are concerned about them.
Saikai City has set a goal of becoming a “model region for a decarbonized society” and is working to promote offshore wind power generation off the coast of Enoshima, which has been designated by the government as a “Offshore Wind Promoting Zone ” promising area for offshore wind power generation. We hope that Saikai City and Nagasaki Prefecture will listen to the voices of citizens who are concerned about the GENESIS Matsushima project as they expressed in their comments, and work on a just transition to a more sustainable society and industrial structure.
Materials from The 1st meeting on the Enoshima coast, Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture, “Overview of offshore wind power generation and the Act on Promoting the Utilization of Sea Areas for the Development of Marine Renewable Energy Power Generation Facilities” (Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry / Port and Harbor Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism / Nagasaki Prefecture) [Japanese]
On November 26, Kiko Network held a webinar to explain this issue. A recording of the webinar and materials are available on the following page for your reference [Japanese]
On November 11, a group of youths opposing the GENESIS Matsushima project submitted a letter requesting J-Power to stop the project and a number of questions about the plan, including the CO2 reduction rate, and asked for a response by November 30.
J-Power’s responses to their questions [Japanese]