TEPCO announced that starting in 2012, its power station in the Japanese village of Tokai, Ibaraki prefecture, will use wood waste alongside coal. Wood from forest thinning and waste from lumber mills will be made into pellets, which will then be crushed and mixed with coal.
TEPCO said the process, which will use about 70,000 tons of wood waste annually, will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions at the power plant by 110,000 tonnes a year.
The Japanese government established a Biomass Nippon Strategy to increase the domestic production of local biomass fuel from sources such as lumber waste and rice straw in 2002. Officials view biomass as an efficient way of using " carbon-neutral" resources that would otherwise be disposed as waste.
The idea of mixing coal and biomass is also becoming increasingly popular globally as coal-fired plants seek to find a quick way of curbing carbon emissions. For example, the UK's largest coal- powered plant Drax in Yorkshire is working on installing a co-firing facility that will allow it to burn coal and biomass, cutting carbon emissions by 2.5 million tonnes a year.