Meeting coal demand in Japan
Indonesian coal is also expected to help fuel a surge in fossil power generation in Japan after that country shuttered its nuclear plants in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown in 2011.
Japan's 50-plus nuclear reactors had provided as much as 30 percent of the country's peak power generation, according to government estimates. Without a replacement source, Japan could see electricity shortfalls approaching 19 percent in the manufacturing-heavy region around Osaka, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Some have suggested that Japan, in addition to boosting coal-fired power generation, may seek to increase natural gas imports from Russia. Domestic coal production in Japan saw a precipitous drop over the past 30 years, from an estimated 24 million tons in 1980 to 3.5 million tons in the early 2000s, as the country closed all its coal mines and chose to rely on coal imports to meet its needs.
Since 2002, Australia has provided the lion's share of coal burned in Japanese power and steel plants, with the balance coming mostly from Indonesia and China.
According to the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, utilities operate 16 power plants that rely either fully or partly on coal-fired boilers. A number of those plants went offline after the March 2011 tsunami, but most have been restored.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500