Kyushu Electric Power Co. will start using vessels powered by liquefied natural gas to transport coal for thermal power generation, resulting in reduced carbon emissions from shipping.

The utility said Wednesday that Nippon Yusen K.K. and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. will separately order the LNG-burning coal transport ships and put them into service in 2023.

The ships are expected to carry 20 to 30 percent of coal used by the regional power utility firm based in southwestern Japan.

By using LNG instead of fuel oil, emissions of carbon dioxide will be cut by 20 percent and those of sulfur oxide will be reduced to almost zero, according to Kyushu Electric.

“We can contribute to a low-carbon society,” Kyushu Electric President Kazuhiro Ikebe told a news conference held Wednesday in Tokyo.

But at the same time, Ikebe underscored the need to use coal as fuel for power plants for the time being, despite criticism growing worldwide that coal-fired power generation puts a heavy load on the environment.

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