Project Background

Situation of Energy in Japan

With limited resources of an energy self-sufficiency rate of about 8%, Japan is required to combine and balance various energy sources.
Coal-fired power has high provision stability and outstanding economic feasibility, and is essential to achieve the "3E+S"* energy mix in the energy basic policy of Japan.

*Basic concept of Japan’s energy policy, consisting of Energy security, Economic efficiency, Environment, and Safety.

Japan's energy self-sufficiency is just 8%

Among the 35 OECD member states, this is the second lowest level, after Luxembourg.

Energy self-sufficiency rate comparison

Primary energy self-sufficiency rate comparison of various countries (2015)

Primary energy self-sufficiency rate comparison of various countries (2015)
Created from IEA statistics materials (Balances for 2015)

Forecast for Japan's energy mix

Even according to the government's energy supply and demand forecast created assuming participation in the Paris Agreement, coal-fired power is expected to cover 26% in 2030.

Composition of electrical source

METI Long-term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook (July 2015)

METI Long-term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook (July 2015)


Coal-fired power has outstanding provision stability and economic feasibility

Compared to oil and natural gas, there are more extensive reserves of coal. It is spread broadly throughout the world, primarily in politically stable nations, and so stable provision can be expected. Furthermore, it is a resource that is less expensive than other fossil fuels and experiences little price fluctuations.

Recoverable reserves and recoverable years

Recoverable reserves and recoverable years graph

Source: BP statistics, 2018

Regional distribution of recoverable reserves

Regional distribution of recoverable reserves graph

Source: BP statistics, 2018

Changes in fuel prices

Changes in fuel prices

Source: Ministry of Finance "Trade Statistics of Japan"

Isn’t coal the energy of the past?

No, it will continue to supply the world with electricity.
Coal-fired power stations that use coal with excellent supply stability and economy as their fuel will continue to support electricity around the world, for which demand will grow in Asian countries in addition to Japan in the future, as a base-load power source that can supply electricity stably and at low cost.

Advantages of coal resources

Issues with coal resources

While coal has outstanding provision stability and economic feasibility, there is an issue in that emissions of CO2, considered a cause of global warming, are significant, even when compared to other fossil fuels. Reducing the amount of CO2 emissions from coal-fired power generation is the key for global warming countermeasures.

Forecast for CO2 Emissions around the World

Forecast for global CO2 emissions

Source: IEA World Energy Outlook 2015

Future of Coal-Fired Power Generation

Demand for coal-fired power generation depends on the region

Approximately 40% of the world's generated electricity is coal-fired, making it the largest rate. Even in Germany, which is pro-actively implementing renewable energy, coal-fired power supports the electricity supply.
While there are movements towards reducing the use of coal, it is expected that increasing populations and increasing electricity consumption will expand the demand for coal-fired power generation, particularly in Asian countries.

Ratio of coal-fired power generation in major countries

Amounts of power generation by energy source in major countries

Source: IEA World Energy Statistics and Balances (Electricity and Heat for 2016)

Amount of global power generation (New Policies Scenario)

Amount of global power generation (New Policies Scenario)

Source: IEA "World Energy Outlook 2017," New Policies Scenario

Forecast for fluctuation in coal- and gas-fired power generation capacity in major regions (2017-2040) [GW]

Forecast for fluctuation in coal- and gas-fired power generation capacity in major regions (2016-2040)

Source: IEA "World Energy Outlook 2017," New Policies Scenario

Adjustment Capability Required for Thermal Power Generation

The key to balancing power supply and demand is in the "adjustment capability" of coal-fired power generation!

As the implementation of renewable energy such as solar and wind power generation expands, there are larger fluctuations in output due to reasons such as the season or weather. By using thermal power generation to adjust the fluctuation in output, the balance of supply and demand can be controlled. In order to further advance the spread of renewable energy, it is vital to have a power source with "adjustment capability."

Illustration of power demand and generated power

Source: Agency for Natural Resources and Energy ("Thermal power generation" is essential for expanding renewable energy?! (Japanese only))

The figure was created based on the "Illustration of power demand and generated power" in the link above.

Japanese Clean Coal Technology: Changing the World

Japan, a resource-importing country, is aiming for an energy mix that combines a good balance of thermal power, hydro power, nuclear power and renewable energy to achieve a stable power supply. Of all these resources, Japan has substantial reserves of coal, and given its low cost and stability, there is a need to continue tapping into this resource in the future.

On the other hand, there is an urgent need to develop clean coal technology to enhance the power generation efficiency of coal-fired thermal power and to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions in order to combat global warming. Osaki CoolGen Project is a demonstration project aiming to achieve innovative low-carbon coal-fired thermal power generation that combines the ultimate high-efficiency power generation technology of integrated coal gasification fuel cell combined cycle (IGFC) and CO2 capture technology.

See here for details about the OSAKI CoolGen Project's "coal gasification technology!"

PAGE TOP