Hydroelectric power has been one of the few self-su cient energy resources in resource-poor Japan for more than 100 years. Hydroelectric power is an excellent source in terms of stable supply and generation cost over the long term. Though it used to compare unfavorably with thermal power for some time, hydroelectric power saw a renaissance following the oil crisis.
Although the steady development of hydroelectric power plants is desired, Japan has used nearly all potential sites for constructing large-scale hydroelectric facilities, and so recent developments have been on a smaller scale. As the gap in demand between daytime and nighttime continues to widen, electric power companies are also developing pumped-storage power generation plants to meet peak demand. The share of pumped-storage generation facilities of the total hydroelectric power capacity in Japan is growing year by year.
Initially, coal was the dominant fuel for thermal power generation in Japan, but it later lost that place to oil. Today, a diverse range of fuels including coal, oil, and LNG are used for the important generating role that thermal power plants play. In particular, in response to global environmental concerns, electric power companies are promoting the introduction of LNG fired plants, as they emit less CO2 and other pollutants.
To enhance thermal efficiency further, combined-cycle power plants with both gas and steam turbines have been installed. As a result, gross thermal efficiency (maximum designed value) has exceeded 50%. In the future, we will continue to research and develop new technologies in order to increase thermal efficiency as well as the use of integrated coal gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power generation.
Japan’s first commercial nuclear power plant started operation in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1966. Currently, nuclear power generation is an important power source, accounting for nearly one-third of Japan’s total electric power output.
Electric utility industry believes that nuclear power generation will retain an important position in the optimal combination of power sources from the viewpoint of assuring energy security and mitigating global warming.
Japanese electric utilities are firmly committed to implementing extensive safety measures following the recent accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, reinforcing the mechanism to reflect the latest findings both in Japan and overseas, and enhancing the safe operation of the country's nuclear power plants.
We will also continue to publish the latest information to contribute to the safety of nuclear power generation throughout the world.