New report: Japan champions ‘clean’ coal technology despite ‘universal failure’
November 14th, 2016
(Marrakesh/Tokyo). As new analysis reveals that Japan plans to invest US$10 billion into coal projects overseas, ground breaking analysis also shows that Japan is promoting coal technology which has failed universally, according to Japanese NGO Kiko Network.
Japan is also planning to build 48 coal power plants at home, claiming that ‘high efficiency, low emissions’ (HELE) coal power stations are a solution to climate change, despite the incontrovertible evidence that building new coal power plants is incompatible with the two degree temperature target.
Director of Kiko Network, Kimiko Hirata said:
“Japanese government representatives should hang their heads in shame as they have now ratified the Paris Climate Accord but plan to undermine it by wasting hundreds of billions of Yen on new climate-destroying coal plants in Japan and across the world. The Japanese government could be at the cutting edge of technological innovation by investing in solar and wind but it seems determined to be left behind with its Victorian age obsession with coal firing.”
The report deals specifically with Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), one form of HELE technology. In IGCC power plants, coal is gasified, creating a form of gas known as syngas. This is then used to power a turbine, creating electricity.
IGCC is a more efficient way of generating power than burning the coal directly, and therefore less polluting. A standard coal plant converts up to 38% of the coal’s energy to power, according to international data. IGCC technology can raise this figure to 45 – 50%. Overall, IGCC plants emit around 20% less carbon dioxide than conventional coal plants, according to Japanese industry data.
But IGCC is expensive. The US Energy Information Administration estimates that an IGCC coal plant costs around $4.4 billion per gigawatt of capacity to build, making it about 35% more costly than a conventional coal plant. Secondly, IGCC plants are complicated and difficult to build, and getting plants to operate successfully has not proven easy. Thirdly, even though IGCC coal plants are more efficient than conventional coal plants, they are still highly polluting. Reducing coal’s emissions by an additional 20% will have a limited impact on its contribution to climate change, as the most polluting fossil fuel.
The new plants may not even be needed. Electricity demand in Japan fell for the fifth consecutive year in 2015, as a result of weak economic growth and energy efficiency measures. There is major potential for renewable alternatives especially solar and wind.
Reference IGCC power generation plan（PDF)
Notes to Editors
 NRDC are launching new analysis on coal finance overseas to the same embargo revealing that Japan plans to invest US$10 billion into new coal projects, undermining the Paris Agreement. www.nrdc.org
 Ecofys, The incompatibility of high efficient coal technology with 2°C scenarios, July 2016 (PDF)
 IEEFA, IEEFA Japan Briefing: Japan’s Energy Transformation, 2016 (PDF)
Download the file here (PDF）
Kiko Network (www.kikonet.org)
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