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Idemitsu, Inpex Consider Building Geothermal Plant in Fukushima

Japanese refiner Idemitsu Kosan Co. and oil and gas explorer Inpex Corp. are considering building a geothermal power plant in Fukushima as the nation seeks to diversify its energy sources.

The companies are considering conducting a study for possible sites, Tetsuji Yoshimine, a spokesman for Inpex, said by phone today. Idemitsu is considering developing geothermal power in Fukushima, company spokesman Kei Uchikawa said by phone.

The Nikkei reported today that the companies plan to build a 270-megawatt geothermal plant, the largest in the country, in Fukushima. Yoshimine said a decision hasn’t been made.

Japan plans to ease regulations on building geothermal projects in national parks, where more than 80 percent of the resources lie. The country is seeking to diversify its energy mix following the earthquake and tsunami that crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station last year.

Japan has 537 megawatts of installed geothermal capacity, accounting for 0.2 percent of its total power generation output, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. No new projects of more than 10 megawatts have been developed since 1996, the research agency said.

Inpex and Idemitsu haven’t decided how many plants they plan to build in Fukushima, he said. “We don’t know how soon we can start operations,” he said. “It can’t start in a year or two.”

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