Japan Power Producer to Substitute Coal with Ammonia in Reducing Carbon Emissions

By Thea Felicity

Apr 01, 2024 12:25 PM EDT

Smoke rises from the Jera Co.'s Taketoyo Thermal Power Station after an explosion occurred in Taketoyo, Aichi prefecture on January 31, 2024.
(Photo : Photo by STR/JIJI Press/AFP via Getty Images)

Japan's leading power producer, Jera Co., is starting a major project to reduce coal emissions by introducing a new method that involves using ammonia in electricity production. 

According to BNN Bloomberg, the project begins at the Hekinan Thermal Power Station in Aichi prefecture, and it's the first time such a demonstration has been attempted.

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Why is Jera Co. Substituting Coal With Ammonia?

Jera Co.'s main goal in this project is to replace 20% of the coal heating value with ammonia. The success of this trial will significantly influence Japan's ability to adopt ammonia in coal power plants, thereby contributing to its net-zero emissions target.

However, the use of ammonia and hydrogen in coal-or gas-powered plants has been criticized by some countries and environmental groups due to concerns about cost-effectiveness and the effectiveness of emission reduction.

While ammonia combustion generally produces fewer emissions than coal, producing and utilizing ammonia may introduce new environmental challenges. Ammonia production typically involves energy-intensive processes that emit greenhouse gases and other pollutants, contributing to air and water pollution. 

Additionally, there are worries about the potential release of ammonia into the atmosphere during storage, transportation, and combustion, which could adversely affect air quality and ecosystems.

To address this, the Japanese power producer has pledged to thoroughly examine whether ammonia co-firing produces nitrogen oxide, a harmful pollutant, and to monitor any negative impacts on boilers and related equipment. 

The test project is set to run until June of the current year.

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