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Wed, Mar 01, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Toshiba, Orix praised for dumping power-plant plan

AFP AND BLOOMBERG , TOKYO

Toshiba Corp, Japan's largest maker of nuclear power equipment, and financial services group Orix Corp have scrapped a plan to build a major coal-fired power plant amid concern over greenhouse gas emissions, winning praise from the government yesterday.

Sigma Power Yamaguchi, a joint venture by Toshiba and Orix, has withdrawn its procedure report on environmental assessments that was earlier submitted to the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry for the coal-fueled thermal power station.

The decision stemmed from "slowing power demand, price drops of electricity, spikes in coal fuel prices and growing concern over the global environment," the two partner firms said in a statement late on Monday.

Toshiba and Orix, Japan's largest non-bank financial firm, in April 2003 created a ?499 million (US$4.3 million) venture to build the Yamaguchi plant, according to the release. Toshiba has a 67 percent stake in the business.

Environment Minister Yuriko Koike hailed the decision.

"We regard this as a result of Sigma Power's taking growing awareness of the global environment into consideration," she told reporters.

It was the first time in Japan that a plan for a thermal power plant was abolished due to concern over global warming.

The plant, which was to be constructed in Ube, in the southwest of the main island Honshu, had been scheduled to come on line in January 2009.

Tokyo is desperate to respect the Kyoto Protocol, which was reached in 1999 in Japan's ancient capital and came into force in February last year.

The agreement requires Japan to cut greenhouse gas emissions 6 percent by 2012 from the 1990 level, but the trade ministry said last year that many Japanese industry sectors risk failing to meet their self-imposed targets to meet Kyoto.

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