Three Japanese energy companies announced last week that they have decided to scrap plans to build a 2 gigawatt (GW) coal-fired power station in the Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo, saying that the project would not be economically feasible.
This follows a similar decision a month ago announced by Japanese electric utility Chugoku Electric Power and steel manufacturer JFE Steel to scrap plans to build a 1,070 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant, also in Chiba, and also citing the fact the project would not be economically feasible.
Last week’s announcement by Japanese petroleum company Idemitsu Kosan, energy company Kyushu Electric Power, and natural gas provider Tokyo Gas revealed the three companies had agreed to end a joint feasibility study to build a coal-fired thermal power plant in Sodegaura City, Chiba Prefecture, explaining that “the project cannot yield initially expected investment returns” leading to a joint decision to “cancel further feasibility studies of a coal-fired thermal power plant.”
Kyushu Electric Power and Tokyo Gas, however, have decided to continue a feasibility study of an LNG-fired thermal combined-cycle power plant which would be built at the same location.
The two announcements, only a month apart, tie in with Japan’s recent uptick in renewable energy plans and activity, spurred in large part by its attempts to divorce itself from nuclear power in the wake of the disastrous nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011. Since then, Japan’s nuclear power plants have been shut down or shuttered, and attention has increased dramatically — both politically and popularly — towards renewable energy, specifically offshore wind.
In less than a year, several moves have been made by leading Japanese electric utilities to begin the process of building up an offshore wind energy industry. In July 2018, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) president Tomoaki Kobayakawa outlined his plans to not only develop 6 to 7 GW of renewable energy across Japan and overseas, but a promise to focus on offshore wind — particularly floating offshore wind. Just over a month later, Japan’s Electric Power Development Co., better known as J-Power, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with French multinational electric utility ENGIE to collaborate on power projects, specifically offshore wind and floating offshore wind projects. This was mirrored in January 2019 as Danish power giant Ørsted signed an MoU with TEPCO to explore the possibility and to work jointly on developing offshore wind projects in Japan — focusing first on the proposed Choshi offshore wind project near Tokyo.