Thermal power plants will be a promising power source even in the 2050s, because they can generate a vast amount of electricity with low cost, high reliability, and stability. The plants will also have strong flexibility and controllability to compensate the gap between power demand and supply with coexistence of a certain amount of unstable renewable power sources. Coal, oil, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) are mainly used for thermal power generation in the electricity business and are evenly mixed because of energy security, the so-called best mix. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, thermal power generation of all electric companies drastically increased by 164 TWh (+33.9 %), to compensate their nuclear power generation. Japan now has world-class, excellent thermal power technologies with heavyduty steam turbines under the ultra-supercritical (USC) steam condition and highefficiency 1600 AC class LNG-fired gas turbines. By 2030, if technical development projects of “advanced USC” and 1700 AC class gas turbines are completed successfully, 46 and 57% net thermal efficiencies at the sending end (higher heating value, HHV) will be achieved in commercial power plants, respectively. By 2050, the integrated coal gasification fuel cell combined cycle (IGFC) is expected to appear, and CO2 capture and storage (CCS) will move forward with full-scale implementation. However, introduction costs of these cutting-edge technologies are uncertain, and another technology for mitigation of operating restriction or life extension of aging plants may be preferable, depending on the situation after unbundling and electricity market liberalization by the “Electricity System Reform” in a few years.
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