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Carbon Capture Tech Needed for Coal Plants / Panel’s Proposal Could Result in Cost Increases

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS, see below) technology is essential to successfully reach national emission targets by 2050, according to a set of proposals released by a ministry panel on Thursday, which could significantly increase the costs of new coal power plants.

The technology takes harmful carbon dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants and pumps it deep underground. The Environment Ministry panel is chaired by Takashi Onishi, president of the Science Council of Japan, and was set up to discuss long-term measures to fight global warming.

The panel’s report contains five points, including the need to develop advanced technology and devise new social systems. Based on the findings, the Environment Ministry will urge the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the electric power industry to reconsider building new coal plants.

The Paris agreement adopted on Saturday calls on each nation to draft its own long-term plan to keep the increase in the world’s average temperature to “well below 2 C above preindustrial levels.”

The Cabinet decided in 2012 that Japan will aim for an 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 from 2012 levels.

In the wake of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s nuclear crisis, plans are under way to build coal power plants in 34 regions. Some of them are energy-efficient models, which the panel expects to help achieve the nation’s mid-term target of reducing emissions by 26 percent by 2030 from fiscal 2013 levels.

The panel also said most of Japan’s coal power plants have to be abolished before the end of their life spans to achieve the long-term goal by 2050. It projected that tens of billions of yen will be needed to build CCS-related facilities for the remaining plants.

As a result, increased costs are expected,” the panel said.

Spurred by the upcoming full liberalization of electricity sales next April, the electric power industry is proceeding with plans to build new coal plants because of their cheap power generation costs. It is not clear if the industry will agree to the economy ministry’s request to review their plans. (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

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