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31 August, 2015

METI Questions Chubu Electric Power’s Plans to Build Coal-Fired Plant

On August 27, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) delivered its opinion to the Chubu Electric Power Co. concerning the power company's plan to build a coal-fired power plant (1070MWe) in Aichi Prefecture, asking it to develop specific schemes and rules to realize the CO2-reduction targets voluntarily imposed by the nation's electric power industry. Japan's Ministry of Environment (MOE) has already expressed the view that the plan is "difficult to endorse" from the perspective of the reduction of greenhouse gases.

As the opinions only represent the first stage of an environmental impact assessment (EIA), Chubu Electric Power does not need to halt its plans immediately. In addition, the MOE has another opportunity to present its opinion about the plan later if it progresses, but that will probably take another two years or so. Attention will now focus on whether Japan’s electric power industry will come up with concrete greenhouse-gas reduction measures by then. METI is responsible for rendering the final judgment on the plan.

Although Japan is said to have some of the world’s best coal-fired power plants in terms of power generation efficiency, it is still undeniable that they emit CO2. Previously, in June, the MOE had expressed its opinion about other coal-fired power plants, saying it was “difficult to endorse.” Although the electric power industry voluntarily drew up reduction goals one month later for greenhouse-gas reductions, the MOE was dubious about its ability to really meet them, so once again withheld its approval of the plan.

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