Mitsubishi to conduct tests in Ayeyarwady

Mitsubishi Corporation says it is to conduct soil tests as the Japanese company proceeds with plans for a coal-fired power plant in Ngayokekaung township, Ayeyarwady Region.

The coal-fired power plant project will be developed by Mitsubishi and A1 Company as a local partner. The two parties agreed last year to use Japanese “clean coal” technology in the plant.

“This is still at the planning stage pending feasibility studies in the area. There are many issues regarding land occupation, soil tests and fresh water resources,” said Yukihiro Iwasaki, deputy general manager of Mitsubishi Myanmar Branch.

Mitsubishi is collaborating with J-Power Company in developing the plant.

“After the feasibility study, there will be further investigations,” said Motohisa Sakurai, chief manager of J-Power’s Thermal Power Engineering.

Mitsubishi invited a total of 36 local residents, MPs, political party members, journalists and civil society representatives from Ayeyarwady to tour two coal-fired power plants in Japan run by J-Power, which operates a number of thermal power plants and consulting services in Japan and elsewhere.

The delegation visited Takehara plant in Hiroshima, which comprises three units with installed capacity of 250 megawatts, 350MW and 700MW based on sub-critical and super-critical technology. Takehara has been running continuously since 1967 even as its technology has been regularly updated.

They also visited Isogo power station in Yokohama. The plant runs two 600MW units with ultra-super critical (USC) clean-coal technology, which generates more power with less fuel. The two plants burn high-quality coal from Australia and Indonesia.

USC is one of world’s most advanced and most environmentally friendly technologies, according to the Japanese government’s International Centre for Environmental Transfer.

Japan’s environmental law covers air and water pollution, odour control, noise and vibration regulation, private sewerage, waste management, and public cleansing.

“Environmental conservation in Japan is the responsibility of government, companies and citizens. Any resident may file a complaint directly to the regional court. Environmental impact is monitored constantly,” said Eiichi Masuda, supervisor of the centre’s Project Planning Division.

The Myanmar delegation observed the conservation of air and water quality and the prevention of dust and noise in and around coal-fired power plants.

“We knew how impressive Japanese technology was before we went. During our visit, we saw that these coal-fired power stations are perfect,” said U Thein Htay, a resident of Ngayokekaung.
But the possible impact of the Ngayokekaung coal-fired plant goes beyond technology, another participant said.

“We have no doubt about Japanese technology. The power stations we visited were 100 percent perfect. But I do worry about our government’s policy and management of environmental issues, which cannot be of the same standard as Japan’s,” said Daw San San Myint, a resident of Sabarkyi village in Ngayokekaung.

The Myanmar government has signed a memorandum of understanding for at least 12 coal-fired power projects around the country with a number of local and international companies. All the projects are still at the feasibility study stage, and are likely to face questions in view of public concern about environmental and social issues.

“This project is one of Mitsubishi’s biggest businesses in Myanmar. Mitsubishi will maintain its standards, and its project implementation will adhere to Myanmar laws. We promise not to sell our products or electricity based on low technology,” said Mr Iwasaki.

The technology does not come cheap. The estimated cost of a 600MW USC power plant would be at least US$2.5 billion, say Japanese officials.

But coal-fired power generation is looking more attractive for Myanmar as the country’s electricity consumption continues to rise owing to economic development.

“We don’t have any other option for stable power generation, because hydropower projects are also expensive and harder to implement, natural gas is limited, and wind and solar energy are still at the research stage,” said U Tin Lwin Oo, deputy head of the Department of Hydropower Planning of the Ministry of Electric Power.

“Japan’s environmental conservation standards are much higher than the World Bank’s. This is a very promising opportunity to get clean-coal technology at Ngayokekaung,” he said.
According to the International Energy Agency, Japan has the lowest rate of emissions of sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides in the world per unit of electricity generated.

Source: Myanmar Times

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