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Japanese utilities’ onslaught of coal plant assessments, power bids met with cold reception by opponents

zokuzoku Now seems to be the season for environmental assessments for proposed plants as numerous plans to build new Japanese coal-fired power plants have sprung up one by one in FY 2014. J-POWER has started taking comments for its Takasago coal-fired power plant in Hyogo prefecture starting from July 25th, 2014. And for the construction of Hitachinaka coal-fired power plant No. 1, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Economy released his comments on July 17th,, 2014 setting up the project for the next step.

Then there are the bid for thermal power by utilities. Via the Working Group on Tendering Systems of Thermal Power Supply which was established at the end of June, 2014, Tohoku Power Co., Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), Chubu Power Co., Kansai Power Co. and Kyushu Power Co. have started taking bids for thermal power.

TEPCO had previously opened a bid for 6000MW of thermal power but only got 260OMW worth of bids thereby resulting in the utility to open another bid for the remaining power. Combined with the bids by other utilities, this comes to a total of 10,700MW. Operations for the new thermal power for each and every one of the utilities will not start until 2020, effectively creating a huge coal rush in the future.

With the inevitable decline of Japan’s population due to the country’s low birth rate, will all this new energy be necessary? On top of this, the price of coal has been far from stable. In the long term, it is predicted that the cost of coal will continue to fluctuate.

Japan is unwavering in its support for coal. Although foreign financiers’ decision to move away from coal may be difficult, it’s high time Japan stopped turning a blind eye to the risks of coal and opt for cleaner, more sustainable energy alternatives.

Environmental assessment process:

Submission of environmental statement:

  • July 25th, 2014: J-POWER, Takasago thermal power plant (replacement of equipment)
  • (July 25th – August 25th, 2014: Inspection of the Takasago facility/public comment period.

Note: To learn more about J-POWER’s public comment system, click here (Japanese only). The planning phase environmental statement can be viewed here (Japanese only, document cannot be printed or downloaded).

The Minister of Environment’s comments:

  •  July 1st, 2014: Comments by the Minister of Environment on the environmental impact statement for unit 1 of the Hitachinaka power plant set to be built in Tokaimura, Ibaraki (Press Release, Japanese)
  • July 3rd, 2014: Comments by the Minister of Environment toward the planning phase environmental impact statement for the large scale integrated coal gasification combined cycle equipment demonstration plans (Nakoso) for Fukushima’s revitalization (Press Release, Japanese)
  •  July 3rd, 2014: Comments by the Minister of Environment toward the planning phase environmental impact statement for the large scale integrated coal gasification combined cycle equipment demonstration plans (Hirono) for Fukushima’s revitalization (Press Release, Japanese)

The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry’s comments:

  • July 17th, 2014: Comments by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Environment on the environmental statement for unit 1 of the Hitachinaka power plant set to be built in Tokaimura, Ibaraki (Press Release, Japanese)

Concerning thermal power bids:

5th Meeting of Working Group on Tendering Systems of Thermal Power Supply (Under Expert Committee on Reviewing Electricity Rate Electric Power Development Committee, Electricity and Gas Industry Committee and Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy)

 Bids by utility companies:

Term 1 power supply: 70-80% of standard utilization (annual contract basis)
Supply start period: June 2020-June 2022
Scale of thermal power wanted: 600MW

Term 2 power supply: 40-50% of standard utilization (annual contract basis)
Supply start period: June 2023-June 2024
Scale of thermal power wanted: 600MW

August 1st, 2014: Press release
August 11th: Briefing session
Supply period: April 2019-March 2024 (bulk recruitment)
Scale of power wanted: 6000MW
Power supply type: 70-80% of standard utilization (annual contract basis)
Supply contract period: standard of 15 years, however contracts in the range of 5-15 years are possible
Maximum price: Undisclosed

Bids accepted from July 30th, 2014 (in house bids possible)
Scale of thermal power wanted: 1000MW
Supply start period: April 2021-March 2023
Operation requirements: standard utilization rate must be 70-80%
Supply period: standard of 15 years, however contracts between 10-30 years are possible

Bids accepted from August 4th, 2014
Scale of thermal power wanted: 1500MW
Eligibility period: April 2021-July 2023 (beginning of each month)
Supply period: standard of 15 years (from the day the bidder is eligible), however contracts between 10-30 years are possible
Standard utilization rate: 70%

Bids accepted from July 31st, 2014 (in house bids possible)

Mainland Kyushu:
Eligibility period: until June, 2021
Scale of thermal power wanted: 1000MW
Supply contract period: standard of 15 years, however contracts in the range of 10-30 years are possible

Smaller Kyushu islands:
Eligibility period: until June 2018
Area: Tsushima, Nagasaki prefecture
Scale of power wanted: 8MW
Supply contract period: standard of 15 years, however contracts in the range of 10-30 years are possible