The Wall Street Journal reports on Japan’s return to coal fired power generation following the alarmist – and inaccurate – demonisation of nuclear power after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami which caused the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns. And it is still worth remembering that while the earthquake and tsunami claimed more than 18,000 lives, the Fukushima plant incident has caused no direct fatalities.
The reality is that the cost of electricity production in a 2011 government estimate put the “cost of coal power in Japan at ¥7.5, or about 6 cents, per kilowatt-hour including construction and operation. The same report put the cost of nuclear power at ¥9 per kwh, gas power at ¥10 per kwh and oil power at ¥19 per kwh”. Seven new large coal plants with a total capacity of 7,260 MW have already been announced and are planned to be commissioned until 2025. And a further 6,000 MW are being currently tendered for.
The same cost structure prevails in India or China or Indonesia or South Africa. Even in Europe without artificial (and pointless) skewing of the market place, meaningless carbon taxes and subsidies for renewable power which are not commercially viable, coal offers the lowest cost of electricity production. The same cost structure would apply also in Australia. In the US coal is only second to gas.
WSJ: Japan is continuing to re-embrace coal to make up for its lack of nuclear energy, with plans for another power station released Thursday bringing the number of new coal-fired plants announced this year to seven.
………. Kansai Electric Power Co. and Marubeni Corp. informed Akita prefecture on Thursday of their plans to build a new, 1.3-gigawatt coal-fired power station in the northern prefecture of Japan, the two companies said.
If all seven projects including the plant in Akita materialize, they will increase the nation’s coal-power generation by up to 7.26 gigawatts by around 2025. That is equivalent to seven medium-size nuclear reactors.
……. Kansai Electric, based in Osaka, plans to use the Akita project to supply electricity to customers in Tokyo, the only place in Japan where major growth in power demand is expected, a company spokesman said.
The other projects include Chubu Electric Power Co.’s plan to replace an old oil-power station near Nagoya with a 1 gigawatt coal-power station, and a 1.2 gigawatt coal-power station planned byElectric Power Development Co., Osaka Gas Co. and Ube IndustriesLtd. in Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan.
More projects are likely to be announced as the year goes on. Tokyo Electric Power Co. is holding a tender to build new power stations to replace 6 gigawatts of old oil-power capacity in Tokyo. ……
The relative cheapness of coal was indicated in a 2011 government report that estimated the cost of coal power in Japan at ¥7.5, or about 6 cents, per kilowatt-hour including construction and operation. The same report put the cost of nuclear power at ¥9 per kwh, gas power at ¥10 per kwh and oil power at ¥19 per kwh.
……… All of Japan’s 48 reactors are offline over safety concerns following the Fukushima nuclear accident, though four of them are expected to come back online later this year.