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Japanese Power Utilities’ Coal Burning Rises to Record in August

Japan’s regional utilities consumed a record volume of coal while cutting their use of higher-priced fuel oil and crude, according to the Federation of Electric Power Cos.

Japan’s utilities used about 5.7 million metric tons of coal in August, up 21 percent from a year earlier, data from the industry group show today. That’s the most coal consumed since the federation started compiling figures from the 10 companies in 1972, according to its spokesman. Fuel oil and crude demand fell by 28 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively.

Coal burning by the utilities has been increasing year on year as Tokyo Electric Power Co. began test operations at two plants in April while Tohoku Electric Power Co. in March resumed commercial operations at a unit shut by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Japan, where nuclear power provided about 30 percent of electricity prior to the disaster, will shut its only operating reactor on Sept. 15 for maintenance. The country hasn’t announced a schedule for restarting any of its atomic facilities.

The following table shows Japanese utilities’ consumption and purchases of fuel oil, crude, liquefied natural gas and coal in August, based on FEPC data. Fuel oil and crude volumes are in kiloliters, while those for LNG and coal are in tons.

                August 2013     Change on Year

Coal            5,695,890        20.6%
Fuel oil        1,130,339       -27.9%
Crude oil       1,133,600        -4.7%
LNG             5,031,322        -1.1%

Coal            4,973,403        10.8%
Fuel oil        1,114,462       -22.0%
Crude oil       1,008,334        -9.1%
LNG             5,128,285        -3.3%

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