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Japan to shut down 100 coal-fired power units to cut emissions

This file photo taken in January 2018 shows a coal-fired power plant at Sendai port in northeastern Japan. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan plans to phase out 100 or so coal-fired power generators over the next decade as it looks to cut down on carbon emissions and shift toward renewable energy, government sources said Thursday.

Industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama is expected to announce the move soon. A government panel will be set up to come up with ways to push electric utilities away from coal, the sources said.

Resource-poor Japan relies on coal for about a third of its energy needs. Of the 114 coal-fired power generators in the country that are considered to have low efficiency, the government aims to take about 100 of them offline by fiscal 2030.

In their place, the government will promote renewable energy such as solar and wind power, which provides just 16 to 17 percent of Japan's electricity generation, as well as look to restart more of the nuclear reactors that were halted following the 2011 Fukushima crisis.

Under its latest Strategic Energy Plan, Japan plans to boost its reliance on renewable energy to 22 to 24 percent, and nuclear energy from just 3 percent to 20 to 22 percent by fiscal 2030.

The country will continue to use high efficiency coal-fired plants while less efficient usage will be faded out, according to the plan.

Japan has been criticized for dragging its feet on cutting carbon emissions. Last December, it was twice awarded the "Fossil of the Day" award from an environmental group for refusing to stop using coal during a U.N. climate change conference in Madrid.

In March, it maintained its target of a 26 percent reduction from fiscal 2013 levels by fiscal 2030 under the Paris Agreement on climate change despite calls to set a more ambitious goal.

Japan is also promoting its coal technology in developing countries, arguing that some parts of the world cannot afford to quit coal yet and that improving efficiency is a more realistic option..

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