While renewable energy sources are expected to play an increasingly important role in global energy requirements, coal will continue to fuel primary global energy demands and advanced technology is helping to drastically reduce its carbon output.

An affordable and reliable source of energy, coal accounts for approximately a quarter of the world’s total energy needs. Forty-one percent of global electricity demand is powered by coal-fired power plants and Japan is playing a leading role in the development and rollout of new high-efficiency, low-emission (HELE) technology power plants.

HELE coal combustion systems operate at extremely high temperatures and pressures achieving far greater efficiency and carbon dioxide reduction relative to older combustion systems, especially when fueled with high-quality coal.

Based in northwestern New South Wales (NSW), Whitehaven Coal Ltd., Australia’s largest independent coal producer, supplies nearly 70 percent of the high-quality thermal coal it produces to HELE power plants across Japan.

“Our coal basin produces exceptional quality coal that is high in energy and low in ash, sulphur and other impurities,” said Paul Flynn, Whitehaven Coal’s managing director and chief executive officer.

“As pioneers in HELE technology, Japan is building ultra-supercritical power stations and requires our clean coal in order to operate their plants efficiently,” he said.

Whitehaven Coal produces thermal and metallurgical coal through six operating mines in the Gunnedah Basin in the northwestern area of NSW.

One of Whitehaven Coal’s tier-one assets and the company’s largest mine, Maules Creek, was awarded the NSW Minerals Council Mining Operation of the Year in 2016. Eighty percent of the coal mined at Maules Creek is sold to customers in Japan.

“The Japanese market is very important to us and we have strengthened our relationships with our Japanese partners over the years,” said Flynn.

J-Power Resources Co. Ltd., one of Japan’s major power producers, holds a minority stake in Maules Creek and Whitehaven Coal’s other tier-one asset, the Narrabri underground mine.

Whitehaven Coal is proud to receive financing from Japanese banks and today, operates one of the largest Hitachi Construction Machinery fleets in Australia. The importance of Whitehaven’s relationship with Japanese customers, suppliers and government officials was recognized in April when the Whitehaven Coal board held its first overseas board meeting in Tokyo.

“At our recent board meeting in Tokyo, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry informed us that we deliver 45 minutes of electricity to Japan every single day,” said Flynn.

“Japan is taking a leading role in addressing climate change and plans to build up to 30 new ultra-supercritical power plants. This resonates with us and it is our responsibility to continue to deliver high-quality coal and play a role in reducing our global carbon footprint.”