Japan’s Sumitomo abandons planned Matarbari coal-fired plant expansion: report

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A senior project official said the second phase of the project has not been finalized, so the appointment of a contractor has not been discussed.

Sumitomo is building two units of 600 MW each for the Moheshkhali thermal power station in Cox’s Bazar. The government is also setting up the country’s first deep water port at Payra to import coal for the plant as part of Bangladesh’s second costliest project.

Toshiba and IHI Corporation are Sumitomo’s partners in the project, funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency or JICA.

In January, youth activists said Japan should stop funding construction of the coal-fired power plant in Bangladesh because the emissions it produces will accelerate global warming and put the low-lying country at greater risk of impacts of climate change, Reuters news agency reported. .

Sumitomo, in a review of its policies on climate change issues in February, said it would not be involved in any new coal-fired power generation business, either as an independent power producer, or in the engineering, procurement or construction.

“For IPP companies, we aim to reduce CO2 emissions by 60% or more by 2035 (compared to 2019) and we will end all coal-fired electricity generation activities by the end of the 2040s. .”

“We will no longer invest in the interest of thermal coal mines and aim to achieve zero production from thermal coal mines by 2030.”

Argus Media, an independent provider of price information, advisory services, conferences, market data and business intelligence for energy and other industries, announced on March 3 that Sumitomo has decided to withdraw from a possible expansion of the Matarbari power plant, as part of its strategy. to phase out its coal-based activities to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Sumitomo made an exception for the possible expansion project by pledging to stop investing in new coal-fired power plants in May last year, according to the report. “The decision to leave terminates Sumitomo’s involvement in any future coal-fired power projects,” he added.

The 510 billion Tk plant will be at the center of an energy, industrial and port hub. The government will implement 68 projects there. JICA provides about 83% of the funds.

Argus Media said Sumitomo aims to divest its thermal coal mine assets by 2030 and exit from all ongoing coal-fired power projects in the second half of the 2040s, including domestic project developments. and foreigners.

He added that Sumitomo aims for coal to make up 20%, gas 50% and renewables 30% of its electricity generation by 2035, while reducing CO2 emissions from coal-fired generation by more. 60% from 2019 levels by then. Sumitomo’s energy mix was powered 50% by coal, 30% by gas and 20% by renewable energy in 2020, according to the report.

Abul Kalam Azad, executive director of Coal Power Generation Company which is implementing the project, said Sumitomo did not inform them of its decision to withdraw from the expansion.

“It’s their [Sumitomo’s] own business. We will issue an open tender if the government allows us. Those who are interested will come [and bid],” he said.

JICA is still conducting a feasibility study on the second phase of the project.

In a bid to increase Bangladesh’s power generation capacity to 60,000 MW by 2041, the government has taken the initiative to set up a number of large power plants.

However, it scrapped plans to build 10 coal-fired power stations last year over the environmental impact.

They included a 1,200 MW CPGCBL-Sumitomo ultra-supercritical coal-fired power station, said Minister of State for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid.

Coal is considered unchanged when it is burned to produce electricity or heat without using technology to capture the resulting emissions, a system that is not yet widely used in electricity generation.

Campaigners said funding the use of fossil fuels put economic concerns ahead of people’s safety in a country whose low altitude, high population density and poor infrastructure make it highly vulnerable to climate change.

Sumitomo did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

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