On December 22, JERA began commercial operation of the Yokosuka Power Station Unit 2 (650 MW). This is the second unit at this power plant to begin operation in 2023, with Unit 1 starting operation in June. Although Unit 2 was scheduled to start in February 2024, it began operating two months ahead of schedule. One of the reasons for JERA’s change in schedule is assumed to be “to supply enough electricity to meet the winter peak demand,” but Japan is not currently facing a situation where there is concern about strain in the supply and demand of electricity.
In Yokosuka, a group of citizens gathered and held an action against the coal-fired power plant the same day without being informed that Unit 2 had started operation. Recently, more and more people are becoming aware of global warming amidst the frequent occurrence of high temperatures and other irregular weather and extreme weather events. People on the street were sympathetic with these actions, with some asking the participants, “Why coal-fired power generation now?” The participants of the action pointed out that they’ve noticed more and more people are becoming interested in their message.
This announcement of operation of Unit 2 runs counter to measures to combat climate change, and was extremely upsetting to residents who have opposed the project.
In 2019, Yokosuka residents filed a lawsuit to the Tokyo District Court against the government, which had approved the environmental assessment of the Yokosuka Power Station, seeking the cancellation of the final environmental assessment notice. Although the lawsuit was unsuccessful in the first trial, the residents have appealed and are currently awaiting a decision from the second trial. Without waiting for the court’s decision and ignoring the desperate voices of the local residents, JERA began operation of the second unit of this Yokosuka Power Station. Citizens in Yokosuka and across Japan will continue protests against JERA.