Switch to thermal power sent utilities’ CO₂ emissions soaring 29% in 2011

JIJI

Carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s 10 regional utilities came to 409 million tons in fiscal 2011, up 29 percent from the previous year and breaking 400 million for the first time, according to data recently compiled by an industry body.

The shutdown of all of the nation’s nuclear reactors due to the Fukushima disaster and the resulting return to thermal power generation contributed to the emissions spike, the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan announced Tuesday.

In the year to March 31, emissions of the heat-trapping gas amounted to 0.476 kg per kwh, a 36 percent surge from the year before, the report found.

As a result, last year’s emissions level came close to matching the amount discharged in fiscal 1981, although the federation said a simple comparison is difficult because of transactions involving emission rights.

The federation has set a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent from fiscal 1990 levels to 0.340 kg per kwh on average between fiscal 2008 and 2012. However, because the 10 power companies discharged an average of 0.387 kg in the three years through fiscal 2011, they will have to drastically reduce emissions in the final year to stand any chance of meeting this goal.

Realistically, this makes it “very difficult” for utilities to meet the target at a time when all their reactors remain offline for routine checks, with the exception of two reactivated units at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, the federation concluded.