Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Japan offers to share advanced coal-power technology with ASEAN

Posted on May 01, 2017

JAPAN has offered to share with the Philippines and other member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) its best practices in “environmental responsibility” that could help ease local opposition to coal-fired power plants, officials of a Japanese advocacy group said.

“In Japan, we have no so strong opposition to coal,” Naoto Masuyama, president of Japanese coal advocacy group Japan Coal Energy Center (J-Coal), told Philippine journalists in a study tour of his country on the latest in coal technology.

Mr. Masuyama said about five coal-fired power plants are currently being constructed in Japan, but using “clean coal technology” (CCT) whose carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are comparable with those of plants fired by natural gas, which is considered the cleanest of all fossil fuels.

He said more than half of Japan’s coal-fired power plants were built using ultra super critical (USC) technology, which are more efficient than conventional power plants. He said Japan started its first coal-fired USC plant in 1993, giving it an operating experience of more than 20 years.

In the Philippines, Meralco PowerGen Corp. (MGen) is currently preparing to build the country’s first USC coal power plant, a two-unit facility in Atimonan, Quezon with a combined capacity of 1,200 megawatts (MW).

MGen, a unit of distribution utility Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), is in talks with banks to finance 75% of the P135-billion project. It is awaiting regulatory approval of its power supply agreement, which could help hasten the sourcing of funds to build the plant.

The Meralco unit is looking at Japan’s experience to help ease local concerns, including fears about burning coal to produce electricity.

Litz M. Santana, Meralco PowerGen Corp. vice-president for external affairs, said: “It would be likewise good to explore the potentials of having a formal initiative or perhaps a group that will work towards the achievement of attaining similar advocacy towards sustainable energy on coal development.”

“We continue to seek and look for best practices in the utilization of clean coal technology. We wish to continue to understand the available technologies that will ensure the efficient and environmental sustainability of this power resource,” she added.

J-Coal, whose members include Japanese coal power producers as well as big industrial power users, coordinates concerns between its government as well as the public and private sectors.

“Japan is ready to work with Philippines and ASEAN countries to pursue better and more advanced CCTs,” J-Coal officials said.

These new technologies are integrated coal gasification combined cycle technology, whose carbon dioxide emissions are around 750 grams per kilowatt-hour (g/kWh), or lower than USC’s 820 g/kWh. In years to come, J-Coal is looking at advanced ultra super critical technology (A-USC), which has a CO2 emission of 710 g/kWh and integrated coal gasification fuel cell combined cycle technology, which further lowers emission to 590 g/kWh.

“Japan is ready to share with Philippines and ASEAN member states a set of best practices in terms of both technology (and) techniques, regulatory framework and environmental responsibility, all of which remain important, regardless of the technology we will use for coal-fired power generation,” J-Coal said.

Mr. Masuyama said Japan has 95 operating coal-fired power plants, producing 41,273 MW. Power demand peaks during summer. -- Victor V. Saulon

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