Japan risks wasting $56 billion in new coal-fired power stations

posted on May 12, 2016

Japan risks losing $56 billion (6,223bn yens) over the next 10 years by building coal power plants it won't be able to use, a report released Wednesday warns.

According to researchers from the University of Oxford's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Japanese coal-fired power stations stand a high chance of becoming stranded assets as the capacity planned or currently under construction exceeds the supply required to replace the retiring fleet by 191%.

Since 2014, Tokyo has been encouraging a major expansion of coal-fired generating capacity. Currently, the country has four coal plants with a combined capacity of 1.9 GW under construction, but there are another 49 plants in various stages of planning. Together, they would add another 28 GW of capacity to Japan's power system, the researchers say.

According to Ben Caldecott, director of the Sustainable Finance Programme at Oxford, new coal-fired power stations in Japan also face increasing competition from other forms of generation capacity, which have lower marginal costs, such as renewables.

"The idea that the power sector will remain relatively static and 'safe' for new coal-fired power stations is counter to the evidence we see internationally across the G20," Caldecott said in a statement.

To examine the scale of potential stranded coal assets, the researchers developed three illustrative scenarios, reflecting different speeds and scales at which risk factors could realistically materialize.

They concluded the total of coal plants to be left in the lurch could be equivalent to between 23% and 29% of the current market capitalization, and 5%-6% of total assets of Japan's power utilities.

The report also highlights the risks for Japan of going ahead with the planning and development of new coal-fired power plants.

source by mining
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