The Industrial Revolution marked a turning point in the world history through overwhelming growth of industrial productivity by steam engines and steel-making with cokes. Since then up to the middle of the 20th century, coal has been playing a key role to bolster global economy development.
The 20th century also saw innovative oil drilling technology developed in the U.S. and a series of discovery of oil deposits in the Middle East and the Continental Africa, which brought down the oil price to more affordable level. Oil has emerged as the affordable and easy-to-use fuel replacing coal that had been serving the world over a century.
Following the period of global prosperity brought in by abundantly available oil, the two time Oil Crises with supply disruptions in 1970's drastically changed the overall picture of how the world may secure and utilize energy resources.
Upon such situation, OECD member states revisited their respective energy strategies to ensure sustainability and economy of energy supply, through which coal has made a historical comeback. Japan, as one of the countries with high energy dependence, took the same path through enhanced efforts in diversification with nuclear energy and LNG apart from then conventional and dominant fuels; i.e. oil and coal. It is noteworthy that since then Japan has been consistently pursuing technology development and utilization of Clean Coal Technology (CCT) for lowering emissions.
Looking at Japan now, coal, abundant, affordable energy source with wide and even distribution, is becoming even more important especially in the post-Great East-Japan Earthquake period, which saw constraints in nuclear power utilization as base load.
The National Strategic Energy Plan that has been recently revised provides a long-term supply-demand forecast that coal will account for 26% of the generation mix in 2030.
Having reappraised advantages of coal, we have to admit that the biggest issue to be addressed in the course of promoting coal utilization is CO2 emissions reduction to cope with climate change. However, I am rather optimistic looking at recent progress of technology development, which has made NOx, Sox and particulate matters, etc. from coal power generation could be mitigated to the same level as that of gas power.
In recent years, we have shifted our emphasis on power sector CCT; such as USC, A-USC, IGCC and further revolutionary technology combined with a variety of environmental technologies that Japan boasts of, in view of the acute needs by emerging economies for CCT utilization to balance between power development and environmental impact mitigation for sustainability. It is to be noted that we have been involved in acceleration of CCS and CCU implementation.
Looking at the current global energy landscape, we are aware the international environments where coal is criticized as the biggest source of emissions and its utilization is demanded to be restricted, I am convinced that Japan's experience and Japanese CCT will help those emerging economies continuously utilize coal in trying to use coal in the cleanest way possible in view of national energy security.
It is still fresh in our mind that US shale revolution and further development in other part of the world have brought in great expectations to the global community. I believe that this new energy source together with a variety of new and renewable energy sources is one of the keys to address the global situation where the current over 7 billion population is expected to grow into 9 billion; however, it is uncontentious that we need coal in addition to all the other available energy resources to bolster national development of those emerging economies and others to follow, for which clean utilization is an absolute must.
I would like to invite relevant governments and our global partners as well as our partner companies in Japan to jointly tackle with the issues that are still ahead of us; such as utilization of overwhelmingly potential and underdeveloped brown coals and CCT development and transfer.
I would like to share with you that Japan Coal Energy Center (JCOAL), as a government-mandated institution that covers upstream to downstream of the coal value chain, has been engaging in bridging, coordinating and mediating work between government, public sector and private players for development and introduction of highly efficient CCT. And, JCOAL is committed to its continuous engagements in technology development, business development, technology sharing and transfer, human resources development and knowledge management with comprehensive coverage of the entire coal value chain toward energy supply sustainability and industrial and economy development.
Japan Coal Energy Center