Japan: Jera starts up Hitachinaka coal-fired power unit

Japanese thermal power joint venture Jera has begun commercial operations of a 650MW coal-fired power unit at its Hitachinaka power complex, taking its total coal-fired power capacity to 7,950MW.

The unit at Hitachinaka in east Japan’s Ibaraki prefecture uses ultra-supercritical (USC) technology to reduce ease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from coal use. The advanced technology is excluded from the country’s phase-out strategy for inefficient coal-fired power units.

Tokyo started discussions to scrap inefficient coal-fired power plants in July last year, to help the country meet a 2030 goal to cut GHG emissions by 26pc from 2013-14 levels. The phase-out is targeted at units that are not equipped with the latest clean coal technology such as coal gasification combined-cycle and USC infrastructure.

Jera has already pledged to scrap its coal-fed units with inefficient technology by 2030, although most of the firm’s power units are equipped with the latest clean coal technology. Only two units at Hekinan coal-fired plant, with total capacity of 1,400MW, use inefficient SC technology.

Japan currently has 30,030MW of coal-fired power capacity that uses less advanced technology than SC, according to the government-affiliated think-tank the Institute of Energy Economics Japan (IEEJ). The country’s coal demand is likely to fall by 64mn t/yr if all the insufficient capacity is scrapped by the April 2030-March 2031 fiscal year, the IEEJ said.