Pellet Power for J-Power
Posted by Jim Ivanoff
July 27th, 2009
The Nikkei Newspaper reported over the weekend that J-Power, a wholesale electric utility operating 67 power plants, will start mixing wood pellets with coal in order help reduce CO2 emissions. Their goal is to reduce emissions at the Matsuura plant in Nagasaki by 200,000 tons annually, or 2% of the total, by utilizing as much as 100,000 tons of biomass pellets.
J-Power is the largest coal power plant operator in Japan and the first to take significant steps in using pellets. After studying the costs of using the pellets in the Matsuura plant, the company will look at expanding their use at others as well. If J-Power is successful in utilizing wood pellets, other companies will surely follow.
While the pellets will be made from thinned wood from Japan's forests, J-Power's move into pellets might spawn a new potential market for Canadian wood pellets as well. The Nikkei article states that Japan generates about 5 million tons of thinned wood per year, of which most is simply left on the forest floor. Looking beyond this large number, however, the high costs of removing the thinned wood due to poor infrastructure and inefficient practices may mean that much of it will not be economically viable as a source for wood pellets. This will lead power companies to look offshore if the use of pellets in power generation grows significantly.