Monday, March 26, 2012

No. 44: The nation’s largest geothermal plant is planned (March 26, 2012)

Business trend
Three companies of Idemitsu Kosan, INPEX, and Mitsubishi Materials drew a plan to build the nation’s largest geothermal plant in Fukushima Prefecture, responding to the conditional deregulation of excavation inside national and quasi-national parks published by the Ministry of the Environment. The new geothermal plant is scheduled to start operation toward 2020. The scheduled output is 270,000 kW that is a quarter of the output of a nuclear power plant. Made up of several plants with an output of 50,000 kW each, the new plant will supply power to 70,000 households. Total investment will be 100 billion yen. Japan Petroleum Exploration and Mitsui Oil Exploration will supposedly joint the three companies, and the project will supposedly be carried out by a total of nine companies. The companies involved will hold a presentation meeting in April. They will give the highest priority to local employment for public works like road construction and work out measures for the attraction of tourists.

Japan has the world’s third largest geothermal resources with about 24,000,000 kW following the U.S. and Indonesia, but it currently has an output of about 540,000 kW because 80% of resources are inside its national and quasi-national parks. The new plant with an output of 270,000 kW will surpass the Hachobaru Plant operated by Kyusyu Electric Power that is currently the largest geothermal plant in Japan. According to the government committee working on power generation costs, geothermal generation costs 9-11 yen per kW that is almost the same level of coal fired power generation. Toshiba, Mitsubishi Heavy, and Fuji Electric have a combined share of 70% in the geothermal plant market in the world. Intensifying competition will inevitably accelerate technological innovation of all companies involved.   

Currently, Japan's largest geothermal plant in Kyushu that has an output of 110,000 kW. The new geothermal plant planned by Idemitsu Kosan and others will have an output of 270,000 kW.       

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