One of Japan’s largest coal-fired power plants “Sodegaura” cancelled,
12 million tons of annual CO2 emissions avoided
January 31, 2019
Mie Asaoka, President
On January 31, 2019, Tokyo Gas Co., Kyushu Electric Power Co., and Idemitsu Kosan Co. jointly announced their decision to abandon to build a massive coal-fired power plant in Sodegaura City, Chiba Prefecture. The project developed by their joint venture company “Chiba Sodegaura Energy Co.”, would have been among the largest in Japan, producing two megawatts (two units of one MW each) of electricity and emitting about 12 million tons of CO2 annually. In order to keep global temperature to1.5 degrees Celsius target under the Paris Climate Agreement, the construction of any new coal-fired power generation plant is unacceptable, so Kiko Network welcomes the companies’ announcement as a sensible and proper decision.
With this decision, 11 of the 50 units at coal-fired power plants that were newly planned since 2012 have been either cancelled or seen a change in planned fuel (of the 50 units, 10 are already operating and 29 are at the planning or construction stage as of today’s date). With the recent cancellation of the Soga Coal-Fired Power Plant announced on December 27, 2018, all three new power plants that were being planned in Chiba Prefecture have now been cancelled (Ichihara City, Chiba City, Sodegaura City). Kiko Network welcomes the fact that Chiba Prefecture has effectively become “coal free.” (With the exception of private power generation, Chiba Prefecture has no other existing coal power plants).
All three project sponsors stated in press releases that they “have concluded that the project cannot yield initially expected investment returns.” Considering the current global trend to phase out coal, they made the right decision. However, considering a statement last summer by the president of Tokyo Gas that the company would take community input into account, we believe that tenacious campaigns organized by citizens, including community groups and NGOs, were also a significant factor in the decision. Since the construction plan was first announced, Kiko Network has worked closely with local community organizations, noting that target site is in a densely populated area as well as the problems associated with constructing a large coal-fired power plant in an industrial area that has already experienced serious air pollution. Numerous groups joined forces, including a group for studying the coal power plant in Sodegaura (Anti-Coal Sodegaura) and a group in Tokyo Bay (Anti-Coal Tokyo Bay), in persistent advocacy calling on the project sponsors to cancel their plans. Throughout the official environmental assessment process, the groups were meticulous in identifying environmental problems. No doubt all of our efforts played a major role leading to the cancellation.
Globally, the world is moving toward a coal exit as divestment from the coal industry gains momentum. In this context, the proponents of other coal-fired power plant construction projects in Japan should make a similar decision to cancel plans.
Kyushu Electric Power and Tokyo Gas stated that they will continue with a feasibility study for an LNG-fired thermal power plant on the same site. However, global CO2 emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010 in order to achieve the world’s 1.5-degree warming target, and net zero emissions must be achieved by 2050. Even with LNG-fired power generation, any new plant will still result in an enormous increase in CO2 emissions, and would obviously be inconsistent with the Paris Agreement. Therefore, Kiko Network has the view that no new fossil-fuel powered plants should be built in Japan.
Reference: Press releases (English)
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