One of the last countries in the world to support coal-fired electricity generation overseas is considering financing new capacity in Bangladesh.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency last week said in an e-mail that it is conducting an environmental and social impact assessment for an expansion to the Matarbari power plant.
The agency already agreed to finance the first 1.2 gigawatt phase of the project, which is scheduled for completion in 2024, but has not decided if it will finance the expansion, which would double the facility’s capacity.
“In spite of difficulties, my government decided to do a survey and research on unit 3 and 4,” Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Naoki Ito told a webinar hosted by the Centre for Policy Dialogue in Bangladesh on Thursday last week, referring to the expansion.
Changing climate policies have led Japan to scrap dozens of plans for new coal plants, he said.
Japan in August last year agreed to support expanding the Matarbari plant, with three additional units planned in a second phase of construction, said a Japanese government official, who asked not to be identified citing policy.
However, Japan has not yet formally committed to providing loans for the second phase, the official said.
Institutions providing financing for coal-fired generation are under increasing pressure from investors to exit the sector amid fears that the facilities will become stranded assets that pose financial risk, as governments seek to decarbonize economies.
The agency’s decision whether to finance the Matarbari expansion would not affect its credit rating as long as it is tied to the Japanese government, Rating And Investment analyst Atsushi Moriya said.
The government agency provides overseas aid in developing countries.
The expansion might prove awkward for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has pledged to make Japan carbon neutral by 2050.
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