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Utilities eye more non-nuclear power output

Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. and three other utilities are contemplating boosting non-nuclear thermal power generation by either building new facilities or expanding existing plants.

Tepco is planning a major increase in capacity by building facilities to generate around 6 million kilowatts, equivalent to nearly 10 percent of its current output of 65 million kw, a source familiar with the plan said Tuesday.

The expansion is equal to the capacity of six typical nuclear reactors. Tepco is expected to announce details Thursday for a tender to select builders for the new facilities in fiscal 2014, the source said.

Shackled by the Fukushima nuclear crisis that has prevented it from rebooting its reactors, Tepco has been struggling with growing fossil fuel costs to run its non-nuclear power plants.

It wants to cut fuel costs and aims to introduce energy-efficient technologies for its new facilities.

The country’s largest utility attempted to increase coal-fired capacity by 2.6 million kw through a tender last year but could only secure 680,000 kw.

The planned tender is expected to fill the gap for the remaining 1.92 million kw as well as adding 4 million kw of capacity to replace obsolete liquefied natural gas-powered plants in the Tokyo Bay area, according to the source.

The tender could draw bids from Chubu Electric Power Co., Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. and Electric Power Development Co. The three companies were awarded contracts in last year’s tender.

Tokyo Gas Co., Osaka Gas Co. and Kansai Electric Power Co. are other potential bidders.

Aside from Tepco, Chubu Electric, Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co. are exploring plans for boosting non-nuclear generation capacity.

Chubu Electric President Akihisa Mizuno said Tuesday his company will hold a tender during the 2014 fiscal year for building a plant with capacity for about 1 million kw.

The company appears focused on a coal-fired facility because of the relatively low fuel procurement costs.

Kyushu Electric is considering increasing capacity by 1 million kw. The move would involve reviving a once-frozen plan to build another generator at its coal-fired Matsuura power station in Nagasaki Prefecture scheduled to start running around 2020.

Tohoku Electric is examining a plan to move up the construction of a third generator at the 600,000 kw coal-fired Noshiro plant in Akita Prefecture from the current schedule of “fiscal 2028 or later.”