On July 1st, the Minister of Environment submitted comments on the environmental impact statement for unit 1 of the Hitachinaka power plant set to be built in Tokaimura, Ibaraki. This is the first phase of the environment assessment process. Similar to the comments given towards the Hibiki natural gas-fired power plant, the Minister stressed that the environmental impact statement presented by the utility does not reflect what has been stated in Ministry of Environment (MoE) and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s (METI) agreement (Japanese only) concerning TEPCO’s thermal power bid to form a framework for carbon emission reductions. Moreover, the Minister urged the electric power industry to take measures to guarantee that it is consistent with national climate targets and keep additional net emission levels on par with CO2 emissions from natural gas power plants before the framework for carbon emission reductions is formed.
The Minister’s comments on MoE and METI’s agreement:
1. Along with Japan’s aim to settle upon a climate change measure that takes into consideration its energy policy, utilities should work towards forming a framework to the best of their abilities. After the framework has been established, in order to guarantee low carbon emissions during the generating phase, action must be taken to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
2. While the framework is being established, measures (such as carbon offset overseas) should be taken to keep additional net emission levels on par with emissions from the latest natural gas power plants, as stated in MoE and METI’s agreement concerning TEPCO’s thermal power bid. If there are any developments in measures during the environmental impact assessment procedure, those measures should be stated in the scope document in as much detail as possible.
In addition, to be consistent with the long term target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2020, the Minister requested the utility to consider the adoption of CCS technology in the future.
However, building a new coal-fired power plant that emits twice as much carbon dioxide as a natural gas-fired power plant itself is a problem. On top of this, the utility has not reflected what has been requested by MoE and METI in their agreement concerning TEPCO’s thermal power bid. Given this, how can the utility explain the legitimacy of its project? If the utility wishes to move towards the next phase of the process, the “scope document”, the utility should at least establish strict CO2 measures based on the Minister’s comments.
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 (Japanese)