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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  • Japan embraces coal power for backing global trends

    Dennis Normile criticizes Japan embracing coal power (1). Japan has the best coal power technology. The IEA data shows that average co2-intensity coal-fired power (g/kWh) of Japan is 807 as shown in Table-A (2). The Japanese goal of co2-intensity coal-fired power (g/kWh) is 650 with IGCC (Integrated coal Gasification Combined Cycle) around 2020 (3) and 590 with IGFC (Integrated Coal Gasification Fuel Cell Combined Cycle) around 2025 which is better than that of the world co2-intensity oil-fired power as shown in Table-B (2). World energy is still largely relied on oil and coal (4). Not by the renewable energy, but by the Japanese coal-fired power technology, the world can significantly reduce co2 emission. Japan intends to back global trends by the coal-fired power technology. Dennis Normile’s criticism misleads the wrong conclusion.

    1. Dennis Normile, Bucking global trends, Japan again embraces coal power, Science 04 May 2018: Vol. 360, Issue 6388, pp. 476-477
    2. IEA data: Table-A(top) Table-B(bottom) on page76
    3. Japan coal-fired technology map on page 3,

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Bucking global trends, Japan again embraces coal power

    Japan's return to coal power is the latest of many consequences of the way the media hyped the disaster of the tsunami of 11 March 2011. The tsunami drowned over 19,000 people. It also wrecked a nuclear plant. Because the 19,000 were under water and unavailable to the TV cameras, the media, assembled to cover the tsunami, went en masse to Fukushima where there was a bit of smoke rising from the destroyed nuclear plant. They hyped that story incessantly although the leaked radiation killed no one. The fear they caused made it hard for China to switch from coal to nuclear power, and now Japan has switched back.

    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Bucking global trends, Japan again embraces coal power

    It makes negligible difference whether Japan burns coal, natural gas or oil. For the same CO2 emissions, natural gas produces 1.5 times as much LHV (lower heating value) as does coal. Converting natural gas to LNG uses up 1/6 of the energy in process losses. Probably another 1/12 is used up in shipping losses and fugitive emissions. The only real issue is thermal efficiency when the fuel is converted to electricity. Japan plans to use ultracritical steam conditions to burn coal. This gives nearly the same thermal efficiency as using LNG in CCGT, combined-cycle gas turbine. Neither ultracritical coal or CCGT is compatible with intermittent wind and solar energy. When running opposite intermittent solar and wind energy, LNG is typically fired in low-efficiency combustion turbines. Or CCGT in simple cycle only. Result is that intermittent energy sources do not result in significant fossil fuel or CO2 emission decrease. This is apparent if observing California's or Germany's CO2 emissions since 2000, the only significant reduction being the 2008 recession.

    Competing Interests: None declared.