Japanese utility to study black pellet power

Close up of black pellets
Image: Shutterstock

Japanese utility Tohoku Electric Power will study the use of black pellets for power generation at its 1.8GW Noshiro coal-fired plant in north-east Yamagata prefecture, aiming to progress the decarbonisation of its thermal power plants.

According to Argus, Tohoku Electric Power is considering using black pellets for power generation at its two units at Noshiro, the 600MW No.1 unit and the 600MW No.2 unit, utilising thermal efficiency of the pellets, according to the company’s carbon neutral strategy released last week. The two units currently co-fire 1 per cent woody biomass with 99 per cent coal, while the company plans to switch the woody biomass to black pellets after 2024. Another 600MW No.3 unit burns coal only.

Tohoku Electric Power uses woody biomass as generation fuel for two coal-fired power units at the Noshiro and 2GW Haramachi power plants. Noshiro and Haramachi consume 30,000 tonnes per year of woody biomass and 60,000 tonnes per year respectively.

Related article: Waste biochar could help mitigate climate change

Tohoku Electric Power is considering suppliers of black pellets and will also study producing the feedstock production at other unused sites that it owns.

Japanese refiner Idemitsu Kosan Co is gearing up its black pellet business, with an expected rise in demand from the country’s coal-fired power producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Idemitsu Kosan Co plans to start commercial pellet production in Vietnam in 2022 with capacity of 120,000 tonnes per year after scrapping plans to build a black pellet production facility located in Surat Thani, Thailand. The company did not disclose the location of the Vietnam site.

Idemitsu Kosan Co is also developing its technology to grow sorghum and produce black pellets from the crop on unused land at its majority-owned Ensham coal mine in Queensland through its wholly-owned subsidiary Idemitsu Australia Resources.