In DepthEnergy Policy

Bucking global trends, Japan again embraces coal power

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Science  04 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6388, pp. 476-477
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6388.476

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Most of the world is turning its back on burning coal to produce electricity; Japan is embracing the fossil fuel. The nation has fired up at least eight new coal power plants in the past 2 years and has plans for an additional 36 over the next decade—the biggest planned coal power expansion in any developed nation. And last month, the government took a key step toward locking in a national energy plan that would have coal provide 26% of Japan's electricity in 2030, and abandon a previous goal of slashing coal's share to 10%. Critics fear the coal revival will have alarming implications for air pollution and Japan's ability to meet its pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26% below 2013 levels by 2030, and by 80% by 2050. They also say the nation is missing an opportunity to boost solar power and other renewable energy technologies.