Photo/Illutration A coal-fired power plant in Hekinan, Aichi Prefecture, plans to conduct an experiment on using ammonia as fuel by mixing it with coal. (Provided by JERA Co.)

A coal-fired power plant in central Japan will start an emissions-reduction experiment in June to burn fuel mixed with ammonia.

JERA Co., which is Japan’s largest power-generation company, and IHI Corp., a major heavy industrial company, jointly announced the trial on May 24.

It will be the world’s first full-scale experiment where a mix of ammonia and coal are burned in a large commercial furnace, according to company officials.

JERA runs the thermal power departments of both Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and Chubu Electric Power Co.

The industry has high hopes that mixing ammonia, which does not emit carbon dioxide when burned, into its fuel will make leaps and bounds in curbing plant emissions.

The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization is subsidizing the experiment.

JERA aims to burn a fuel mix consisting of about 20 percent ammonia for two months in fiscal 2024 at the No. 4 furnace in its Hekinan thermal power plant in Aichi Prefecture. It hopes to shift completely to ammonia-fired thermal power generation in the 2040s.

It will also begin a small-scale experiment at the No. 5 furnace starting in August this year.

IHI will take charge of developing the technology for stably burning ammonia.

The Japanese government has a stated goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, and putting ammonia into practical use as a fuel source is viewed by some as a potential game changer for energy policy in the country.

“Japan will take the initiative in the industry to provide and use ammonia around the world,” the government said in its green growth strategy compiled at the end of last year.

Ammonia is also much easier to handle than hydrogen, company officials noted. Ammonia can be liquified at just 33 degrees below zero, whereas hydrogen liquifies at 253 degrees below zero.

Electric Power Development Co. (J-POWER) also announced on May 24 that it will start research and development for using ammonia as a component fuel source.