Japan is turning into a rare bright spot in the world coal market, stepping up coal-fired power generation to replace nuclear plants that went offline after the 2011 Fukushima accident.
Plans by Japanese companies to spend billions of dollars on new coal-fired plants offer a striking contrast with the U.S., which has effectively blocked new coal plants using existing technology over concerns about global warming.
And they show how deeply Japan's energy picture has changed since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors.
On Thursday, Kyushu Electric Power Co. said it would restart a long-frozen project to build a one-gigawatt coal-fired unit in southern Japan. Other utilities including Tokyo Electric Power Co. have announced similar plans for more coal-fired power.
If the plans all come to fruition, Japan's coal-fired power capacity would increase to around 47 gigawatts over the next decade or so, up 21% from the time right before the Fukushima accident.Not trivial. Not trivial at all. US consumers are going to have to spend a lot of money on wind and solar to cut CO2 emissions to balance all the new Japanese CO2 emissions. The increase use of coal in Japan is a pittance compared to what is contemplated in China and India. Repeat chorus: US consumers are going to have to spend a lot of money on wind and solar to cut CO2 emissions to balance all the new Japanese CO2 emissions.