On the decision by J-Power to close and suspend two coal-fired power units of Matsushima Thermal Power Station in 2024:
The GENESIS Matsushima plan for Unit 2 should be canceled as well
November 1, 2023
Mie Asaoka, President
On October 31, 2023, Electric Power Development Co.,Ltd. (J-Power) announced the decision to close Unit 1 and suspend Unit 2 at its Matsushima Thermal Power Station by the end of FY2024. In a press release, the company stated, "J-Power has decided to cease operation of the Matsushima Thermal Power Station by the end of FY2024, and accordingly, Unit 1 will be closed and Unit 2 will be suspended to make way for the GENESIS Matsushima project.” They also noted that “some of the facilities and site of Unit 1 will continue to be utilized for the GENESIS Matsushima project and future carbon neutral measures". In the environmental impact assessment document for the GENESIS Matsushima project, J-Power had previously indicated that the start of construction and operation associated with the project were planned to be in 2024 and 2026, respectively. However, in yesterday’s press release, the start of construction and operation were pushed back two years to 2026 and FY2028, respectively.
The Matsushima Thermal Power Station is an aging coal-fired power plant that has been in operation for more than 40 years. Consistent with international commitments to become carbon neutral by 2050 and to achieve a fully or predominantly decarbonized power sector by 2035, the decision to decommission this coal-fired power plant should have already been made. However, until now, J-Power has not indicated a clear policy regarding the future of Unit 1, which is not a part of the GENESIS Matsushima project. The decision to "decommission" as stated in yesterday’s press release means that regardless of whether J-Power continues or abandons the GENESIS Matsushima project in the future, a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 3 million t-CO2 per year (actual emissions of FY2019) from Unit 1 will be avoided at least from FY 2024 onward. We welcome this decision, even if it comes too late.
On the other hand, the press release also stated that the start of construction and operation of the GENESIS Matsushima project have both been pushed back two years, but still strongly indicates the overall will to move forward with the project. Kiko Network has pointed out the following problems with the GENESIS Matsushima project: 1) the project is not based on international commitments to accelerate an exit from coal in response to the climate crisis; 2) the timing of implementation of CCS, hydrogen, and ammonia co-firing is unclear; and 3) there is insufficient explanation and evidence regarding greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions. This decision by J-Power still does not address these issues.
For the area where the Matsushima Thermal Power Station is located, J-Power's announcement has only pushed back the project by two years, which means that many uncertainties remain regarding the future of the area and its communities. In order for Saikai City (Nagasaki Prefecture), the surrounding area, and the citizens to work together to create a truly carbon-neutral community, J-Power must make the wise decision to cancel the project so that a meaningful dialogue on a just transition can begin.
J-Power should promptly cancel the GENESIS Matsushima project, which has little effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and whose feasibility is doubtful, and engage in a sincere effort to ensure a just transition for the region. It should also present a phase-out plan for the Matsushima Thermal Power Station and all other thermal power plants it operates. Furthermore, we call on the government to draw up a concrete roadmap for the phase-out of all existing coal-fired power plants with a clear target year, and to steadily implement the plan, while reiterating our call for regional support for a just transition.
 J-Power: GENESIS Matsushima plan - Outline of Environmental Impact Assessment Methodology (Japanese) https://www.jpower.co.jp/sustainability/environment/assessment/pdf/matsushima/2208matsushima_aramashi.pdf
J-Power Press Release (October 31, 2023) (Japanese)
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