July 5, 2018 Read More →

Critics say Japan could be doing much more to support energy transition

Power Technology:

The Japanese Government has pledged to boost the amount of energy coming from renewable sources to 22-24% by 2030 from the current level of 15%, an energy target described as ‘unambitious’ by critics.

The government has reportedly done very little to promote the use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Japan’s foreign minister Taro Kono said the objective was ‘significantly low’ and described the commitment as ‘lamentable’. In comparison, the European Union agreed last month to raise its energy target to 32% by 2030.

Japan currently generates most of its energy needs from fossil fuels. The plan estimates that figure to fall to just over 50% by 2030, reinforced by energy efficiency policies to reduce demand. Reliance on coal increased after the 2011 Fukushima disaster when public outrage resulted in all nuclear reactors in the country being taken offline temporarily. Of these, six reactors are back in operation, but activating others faces public opposition.

Last year the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said in a report that Japan was in a position to reach an energy target of 35% renewables use by 2030. The projection would require a policy objective to increase solar and offshore wind generation and a potential electricity demand reduction nationwide.

IEEFA director of energy finance studies Tim Buckley told Power Technology: “Japan has been making some solid progress in developing its renewable energy industry. Japan was the second largest installer of solar in the world over 2014-2016. Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has been working in joint venture with Vestas to build the world’s newest, largest floating wind turbines for installation offshore Japan for the last four years.

“So there is progress, but Japan is still providing massive government subsidised export finance to support expensive polluting coal-fired power generation across Asia. Japan is a global laggard when it comes to real and sufficient action on climate change.”

More: Critics respond to Japan’s ‘lamentable’ renewable energy target

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