Japan's JERA aims to use 20% ammonia at coal power plant in 2024

TOKYO, May 24 (Reuters) - Japan's biggest power generator JERA said on Monday it will begin a demonstration project to develop technology to co-fire ammonia and coal at a 1 gigawatt(GW) commercial coal-fired power plant as it strives to cut CO2 emissions by using cleaner fuels.

The company aims to achieve an ammonia co-firing rate of 20% at the 1 GW No.4 unit of its Hekinan thermal power station in Aichi, central Japan, in the 2024 financial year to March 2025.

It will be the world's first demonstration project in which a large amount of ammonia will be co-fired in a commercial coal-fired power plant, JERA said.

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The company did not disclose the cost, including spending to build a storage tank and vaporiser and to replace burners, but a company spokesman said the government, which is keen to create a global supply chain of ammonia for fuel, will pay half.

The project, which is designed to evaluate boiler heat absorption and environmental impact characteristics such as exhaust gases, will run for about four years from next month.

Ammonia is used for fertiliser and industrial materials, but is also seen as an effective future energy source, along with hydrogen. It does not emit carbon dioxide when burned, but its production produces emissions if it is made with fossil fuel.

The Japanese government aims to grow the nation's annual ammonia fuel demand to three million tonnes by 2030 from zero now.

JERA, a joint venture between Tokyo Electric Power (9501.T) and Chubu Electric Power (9502.T), aims to achieve net zero emissions of carbon dioxide by 2050 and 20% use of ammonia at its coal-fired power plants by 2035, which would lower emissions by 20%.

Cost will be a challenge as the power generation cost at a coal-fired station with 20% ammonia is estimated at 12.9 yen ($0.12) per kilowatt hour (kWh), 20% above the 10.4 yen ($0.10) per kWh without ammonia, government data shows.

($1 = 108.9100 yen)

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Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; editing by Barbara Lewis

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