Plan axed to switch oil power plant to coal

Plan axed to switch oil power plant to coal

Kansai Electric Power Company has abandoned a plan to use cheaper coal instead of oil at one of its thermal power plants in western Japan.

The utility said on Tuesday that it's continuing to use oil at the Ako plant in Hyogo Prefecture.

The utility says this is to address global warming and a falling demand for electricity amid energy-saving efforts.

Following a full-deregulation of the power-retail market in Japan last April, the utility planned to change the fuel at the 1,200 megawatt-capacity plant from oil to coal starting from 2020.

Coal is cheaper but is blamed as a major source of carbon dioxide emissions that aggravate global warming.

Hyogo Prefecture, which hosts the plant, and environmental groups were critical of the plan.

Following the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011, utilities in Japan were forced to put nuclear power plants offline. They plan to build coal-powered plants as a steady source of power. There are now more than 40.

Observers say KEPCO's decision may have an industry-wide effect, amid the continued construction of coal plants.