This pamphlet explains the GENESIS Matsushima Project by J-Power and issues associated with it.
GENESIS Matsushima Project is a project being implemented in Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture to continue the operation of old and inefficient coal-fired power plant by adding a coal gasification facility. This pamphlet provides an overview of the Project, and explains various issues associated with the project, such as that it leads to not CO2 reduction, but more emission, its air pollution control measures are inadequate, and that it hinders the introduction of renewable energy, using graphs and table.
Followings are frequently asked questions about the GENESIS Matsushima project. (To be updated as needed)
What is the GENESIS Matsushima Project?
Currently, at Matsushima Thermal Power Station in Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture, two old and inefficient coal-fired power generation units have been in operation for more than 40 years (Unit 1 (500MW) started operation in January 1981 and Unit 2 (500MW) started operation in June of the same year).
J-Power, which owns the Matsushima Thermal Power Station, plans to add a coal gasification facility to Unit 2 of the plant to slightly improve its efficiency and continue its operation. In the future, the plant may become one of the key facility for co-firing ammonia, manufacturing coal-derived hydrogen, and Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS), where CO2 captured from the flue gas associated with power generation will be transported to other areas for utilization or buried underground. Currently, J-Power is in the process of conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for this project.
Why is the GENESIS Matsushima Project a problem?
(1) It emits a lot of CO2 and accelerates global warming
The climate crisis is becoming more serious, and we must limit the increase in the earth’s average temperature to within 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels to avoid a more dangerous climate. Countries around the world are required to achieve a carbon neutral society in 2050. Therefore, Japan, as a developed country, must phase out coal-fired power generation by 2030 (phase out). Coal-fired power generation is the energy source that emits the largest amount of CO2 among thermal power plants. It emits almost twice as much compared with natural gas in terms of CO2 emission intensity. It is also the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Japan’s power generation sector.
(2) Continuous CO2 emissions in the future by extending the operation of aging power plants
If fully operational, the Matsushima coal-fired power plant will emit about 6 million tons of CO2 per year, which is an enormous amount, equivalent to about three-quarters of Nagasaki Prefecture’s annual emissions of 7,839,000 tons (indirect emissions in FY 2018*). And even if the GENESIS Matsushima Plan is implemented, it will not lead to significant emission reductions. Nagasaki Prefecture has issued a carbon-neutral declaration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Nevertheless, the continued emissions from aging power plants that have been in operation for more than 40 years is problematic because it undermines the efforts of Nagasaki Prefecture as a whole.
(3) Inadequate air pollution control and health impact raise concern
Coal, which is used as fuel, contains a variety of pollutants, and burning it emits air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and particulate matter. These can affect respiratory diseases such as asthma. They also lead to the formation of PM2.5, which pollutes the air.
Because the Matsushima Thermal Power Station is old, it emits higher concentrations of air pollutants than other coal-fired power plants, and its environmental measures are inadequate. This is a problem unique to thermal power plants that burn fossil fuels.
J-Power claims that the GENESIS Matsushima project will reduce emission concentrations, but the figures are still significantly higher than those of other power plants.
(4) A stumbling block to the introduction of renewable energies
At a time when there is an international call for a decarbonized society and a shift away from coal-fired thermal power generation, we must create a society that actively promotes the introduction of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, rather than coal-fired thermal power, which accelerates climate change. In the service area of Kyushu Electric Power Company, where Matsushima Thermal Power Station is located, the number of hours during which electricity generated from renewable energy sources exceeds power demand is increasing, and output control of solar and wind power is being implemented. In other words, prolonging the life of thermal power plants could be a stumbling block or a brake on renewable energy in the region, and J-Power should consider presenting a proposal that does not implement the project and more flexible operation of the power system.