Matsuura – a fishing city that electrifies the west coast of Japan

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Rainy day at the site

Back in 2016, I had an opportunity from my office to visited the power plants in Kyushu, the southwesternmost of Japan’s main islands. The first power plant we visited was in Matsuura, a town located in Nagasaki Prefecture.

When talking about Matsuura, not many foreigners know about the city. With a population of just 23,000 people, this place is only a small city. But this small city is a great source of electric power that nourishing the west coast of Japan.

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The highest point of Furusan Park

From the highest point of Furusan Park, the city recreation area, we can see two power plants. On the right is J-Power’s Matsuura power plant. It consists of 2 sets of 1,000 megawatts power generators. Meanwhile, the power plant on the left belongs to Kyushu Electric with a capacity of 700 megawatts. There was also an additional space prepared for another 1,000 megawatts generator that expected to start operating in the winter of 2019. As a result, the city of Matsuura will have a capacity of 3,700 megawatts of electricity, all of which use coal as fuel.

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The local fishing right across the power plant

Because fishing is the main occupation of the people in the city, there were fish rasing cages scatter around the area 3 kilometers away from the power plants. Fish such as Hamachi (Japanese amberjack), Tai (Red Seabream), Hirame (flatfish), and Tuna are raising in the area. The ships that went out to catch the fish equipped with a large oxygen tub. The fish to be transported from the floating cages to the market while still alive. Keep the freshness ready for wholesale and retail.

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Various kind of fish catch and raise in Matsuura

Aside from fishing, agriculture is another occupation of the Matsuura people. Rice fields and vegetable gardens can be seen everywhere nearby both Matsuura power plants. Cauliflower, onions, bell peppers, all of which are the main ingredients of mother’s kitchen.

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In this visit to Matsuura, we had the opportunity to visit J-Power’s Matsuura power plant. The first generator started operation in 1990 using supercritical clean coal technology. The second generator began operating in 1997 using ultra-supercritical clean coal technology. This power plant was built on a land reclamation area. The company uses coal ashes, which is a by-product of electricity generation as a material for landfill.

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J-Power’s Matsuura Power Plant

The power plant uses coal imported from Australia and Indonesia. Two 130,000 tons of coal-carrying barges will transport coal to the power plant port at a time. Each time will reserve coal sufficient for 20 days to one month use. The coal stockpile was surrounded by 18 meters high windproof wall and spray the water regularly to prevent dust spreading.

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The coal stockpile

Coal when used to produce electricity there will be a by-product of ashes. Which aside from using for landfill, there are also cement companies in Hong Kong and South Korea imported it to mix with cement for building materials. Exported of this by-product is another sort of income for the plant.

Because of the clean coal technology, emission from the power plant is better than the standard required by law and releasing into the atmosphere through a 200-meter high stack. The water used in the power plant were treated and cool down to proper temperature before releasing into nature as well. There are many fish swimming in the after-treatment pond to ensure the cleanness of the water.

Matsuura is one of the cities that can set an example that power generation can harmonize with the community. Thanks to the small town of Matsuura, people on the west coast of Japan can benefit from stable energy supply and drive the country forward.

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