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Japan and Vietnam Talk Clean Coal technology

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Japan, eager to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions, has begun pitching its fuel-efficient coal-fired power generating facilities to Asian countries, which rely on the fossil fuel for their energy needs.

The policy would seem to fly in the face of efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to promote exports of Japanese nuclear technology as part of a package of measures to improve the economy. Demand for coal power around the world happens to be larger than that for nuclear power generation.

Industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi met with Nguyen Minh Quang, Vietnam’s environment minister, in Hanoi on July 2 to discuss Japan’s energy-saving technologies and environment-friendly techniques. He also talked about coal-fired power plants, pointing out that those made in Japan emit less carbon dioxide than facilities made elsewhere.

Vietnam’s demand for electricity has been rising rapidly in tandem with economic growth. The Vietnamese government estimates its power generation will rise to 5.8 times the present level in 2030, and plans to raise its degree of dependence on coal power to nearly 60 percent from the current 20 percent.

Although coal-fired power plants emit a large amount of carbon dioxide, their fuel cost is one-fourth that of oil thermal power plants. In addition, it is estimated that worldwide coal reserves are much larger than those of other energy resources.

Electricity generated by coal power accounts for 40 percent of all electricity in the world, and demand for coal power is expected to continue to increase, mainly in Asian countries. Since two oil crises during the 1970s, Japanese makers have developed new technologies for coal power facilities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve power generation efficiency. Currently, Japan’s coal power plants are said to have the world’s highest energy efficiency.

Along with the goal of expanding its export of infrastructure facilities, the Japanese government also plans to obtain part of Vietnam’s carbon credits by helping the nation reduce its volume of greenhouse gas emissions.

Motegi and Quang agreed to establish a joint crediting mechanism between Japan and Vietnam at the July 2 meeting. The mechanism will allow Japan to include the emission decreases of Vietnam in its carbon credits, in return for the provision of its energy-saving technologies to the country.

“We can kill two birds, that is, the infrastructure facility export and reduction of carbon dioxide emission, with one stone,” an industry ministry official said.

Toshiba Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. are among Japanese companies that have received orders for at least 16 coal power-related facilities from India, Taiwan and elsewhere since the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

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