Japan’s Marubeni Exits Coal Power Business, to Halve Coal Generation Capacity

Japanese conglomerate Marubeni has unveiled plans to halve its coal power generating capacity and stop investing in new coal-fired power plants.

Japanese Corporation, Marubeni announced its exit from coal-fired power generation business and shift its major focus on expanding renewable energy base as part of new business policies to promote sustainable management and climate change.  The move is considered significant at a time when massive consumers like China and India remain wedded to coal till 2040 and beyond, and even the US, in its continuing backward jog on the environment, has eased rules for coal plants.

“As a general principle, Marubeni will no longer enter into any new coal-fired power generation business,” the Tokyo-based company said in a statement. “By 2030, Marubeni will cut its FY2018 coal-fired power net generation capacity of approximately 3GW in half,” it added. It is not clear at this stage if Marubeni’s move is also influenced to an extent by the divestment movement where large funds and soveregign wealth funds have been pressurised to divest away from fossil fuel investments.

The power plant developer said it aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions volume from its power generation portfolio and plans to deploy innovative technologies to increase the efficiency of its portfolio assets and proactively promote the reduction of its environmental impact.

The company also clarified that it may consider pursuing power projects that adopt Best Available Technology — which at present is Ultra-supercritical steam generating technology — and are compliant with the policies and measures of the Japanese government and any country in which the project will be executed.

Marubeni’s decision comes amid mounting pressure on businesses to shift investment away from fossil fuels to combat climate change.

Under the plan, Marubeni will halve its coal-fired power net generation capacity of three gigawatts by 2030. Additionally, it will no longer start new coal power projects “in principle”, instead focus on renewable energy.

According to Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), the announcement by Marubeni is of global significance as it is among the largest new coal-fired power plant developers globally. “Like the halving of renewable energy tariffs in India in 2017, the news that Marubeni Corp is shifting its global weight behind the transition to renewables is a body blow to the global coal industry and a profoundly important endorsement of the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement,” he said.

Marubeni has interests in power plants worldwide equivalent to 12 gigawatts of capacity, the largest among the Japanese.

Japan has been blamed for financing coal-powered energy in developing countries and a heavy domestic dependence on fossil fuel since the nation shifted to thermal power generation. Most nuclear reactors have remained offline after the 2011 tsunami disaster.

According to The International Energy Agency (IEA), Coal is responsible for 45 percent of the energy sector’s global CO2 emissions and also produces other greenhouse gas pollutants and small particles hazardous to health.

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