Japan’s Electric Power Development Co. aims to soon commercialize a new electric power generation system that combines fuel cells and coal-fired thermal power, President Yoshihiko Nakagaki said Thursday.

Nakagaki said the new power generation is expected to serve as the key to an eco-friendly energy supply. The timing for the commercial launch is yet to be decided.

The power wholesaler, which operates hydraulic and thermal power plants nationwide and is better known as J-Power, faces the challenge of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, as electricity generated from coal-fired power accounts for 80 pct of the company’s overall power generation.

In Kitakyushu in Japan’s southern prefecture of Fukuoka, the company is conducting experiments on the so-called integrated coal gasification fuel cell combined cycle, which concurrently generates electricity from fuel cells using hydrogen and carbon monoxide obtained from gasification of coal, as well as from a gas turbine and a steam turbine.

Nakagaki emphasized that the new power generation, if achieved, will be able to raise the power generation efficiency of coal-fired electricity generation to 60 pct from the current 41 pct and greatly reduce CO2 emissions.