By Rintaro Sakurai
A panel of experts under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry released a mid-term report overviewing electricity and other energy industries on May 21. In the report, the panel stated that export of coal-fired power plants should continue as there is a steady demand in emerging nations. The coal-fueled power plants have become targets of domestic and overseas criticism. The report read, “We will only provide support to those countries that have no other choice but coal as an energy source.”
Coal-fired power generation releases a large amount of CO2 that contributes to global warming, and Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi has been calling for a review of Japan’s export policy. Recently, an environment ministry’s panel recommended the government help emerging economies adopt more environment-friendly policies. While related ministries are scheduled to discuss the matter to finalize the government position by or around June, this process may become a rocky one.
The economic panel’s mid-term report claims that although the cost of sustainable energy generation is declining, adjusting for fluctuation incurs a cost. According to the report, coal-fueled power plants remain cost competitive in Southeast Asia, where coal is produced, and these countries rely on support from Japanese corporations. The report concluded that technological development will render coal-fired power generation incompatible with decarbonization in the mid- to long term.