The Environment Ministry wants the industry ministry to have Tokyo Electric Power Co. postpone its planned tender to choose suppliers of electricity generated by coal-fired thermal plants, sources said.
The Environment Ministry is apparently concerned about the effects on global warming as coal-fired thermal power produces more carbon dioxide than other forms of thermal power generation, but the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to reject the request, the sources said Monday.
METI, which oversees the power industry, believes there is an urgent need to up thermal power output because 48 of the nation’s 50 operable commercial nuclear reactors remain offline amid safety concerns, and Tepco’s plans call for it to go ahead with implementing the bidding from mid-February, they said.
The difference in views between the two ministries, based on whether to place emphasis on measures to combat climate change or on procuring stable power supplies, has come to light while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government formulates its energy policy.
Tepco earlier said it plans to hold the tender to select firms to build coal-fired thermal power plants that can produce 2.6 million kw — equivalent to two large nuclear reactors — to ensure stable supplies in the future.
To cut down on investment costs, the utility will solicit firms to build and operate the new thermal plants using coal, which is relatively cheap and can be easily procured, while it will purchase the electricity generated.
Tepco plans to close the tender in May and announce the results by the end of July. After building the new plants, it aims to start generating and supplying power sometime between 2019 and 2021.
The move is aimed at bringing about lower electricity rates by holding down the utility’s capital investment to make up for lost capacity due to the nuclear catastrophe.