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TOKYO, April 10 (Reuters) - Japan's electric power companies made little progress in producing low-carbon electricity and lowering emissions in the past year, industry data showed on Friday, mostly due to an outage at a nuclear power plant.
The data increases the likelihood that Japanese power firms, factories and companies will have to buy more carbon offsets from abroad to help Japan to meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
Japan's commitments depend largely on the electric power sector's efforts to make electricity low carbon by using more non-fossil fuels and producing 20 percent less carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatt hour than 1990/1991 levels.
Japan's 12 electric power companies produced 0.45 kg CO2 per kilowatt hour in the year to March 2008, preliminary data by the Federation of Electric Power Companies showed.
That compares with 0.453 kg a year ago, against the sector's target of 0.34 kg over the five years to March 2013 from 0.417 kg in 1990/1991.
Tokyo Electric Power Co's (9501.T) 1,356-megawatt No.7 reactor at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the world's largest, has been closed since July 2007 after a powerful earthquake. [ID:nT327041]
The industry data is being closely watched. 2008/2009 was the start of Japan's five-year plan under the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N.-led global climate pact under which many nations aim to reduce emissions.
The electric power sector's CO2 emissions per kilowatt hour is used as a basis to calculate emissions at offices and factories from their power consumption. [ID:nT299251]
The sector's voluntary target is not legally binding, but it considers it a commitment and has said it would make up any shortfall with U.N. approved emission credits from abroad or other offsets. (Editing by Sue Thomas)