On the current schedule, two new 540 MW IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) power plants, employing air-blown gasification technology, should start operation in Japan in 2020 and 2021, respectively, in Fukushima prefecture, at Nakoso, Iwaki City, and at Hirono, Futaba district.

A consortium led by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems has recently received full- turnkey orders for the plants, from the two special purpose entities set up to develop them, Nakoso IGCC Power GK and Hirono IGCC Power GK.

Nakoso has been established with capital from Mitsubishi plus Joban Joint Power (5%) and Tokyo Electric Power (5%), while Hirono is a joint venture of Mitsubishi and Tokyo Electric Power (10%). In the case of Nakoso the new plant will be located on property adjacent to Joban Joint Power Co’s existing Nakoso coal-fired power plant site where a 250 MW air-blown IGCC plant (Nakoso unit 10) – formerly the demonstration plant of Clean Coal Power R&D Co, Ltd – is in commercial operation. The Hirono plant will be built on the site of Tepco’s Hirono coal-fired power plant.

One stated aim of the new projects is “to contribute to the revitalisation in Fukushima Prefecture through the construction and operation of the world’s most advanced thermal power plants”, with projects aiding the development of industrial infrastructure and economic recovery in the area.

Mitsubishi says the IGCC facilities will employ exclusively technologies developed in Japan. This includes the concept of air-blown gasification itself, which increases efficiency by reducing the size of air separation unit (ASU) required. The expected efficiency of the new plants is 48% (net thermal, LHV).

As well as high efficiency and reduced emissions, another attraction of IGCC technology for Japan, which lacks abundant indigenous fuels, is its ability to make use of low-grade coal.

Financing will be provided by Mitsubishi, Tepco and Joban, together with a number of Japanese banks, including The Bank of Tokyo- Mitsubishi, Development Bank of Japan, Mizuho Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and The Toho Bank of Fukushima. All the contributors have signed up to provide financing within the context of their support for recovery following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011.