How The Energy System Is Structured
The key points of the current energy policy of the Japanese government are:
- to locate nuclear power on important base-load power sources, by introducing the government’s new regulations, which are stronger than before
- to increase the renewable energies
- to promote technological development like low-carbon emission power plants
The basic viewpoint of the energy policy is “3E+S,” which means Energy Security, Economic Efficiency, Environment, and Safety. Considering this viewpoint as a premise, the Japanese energy policy calls for the government to develop a “Basic Energy Plan” (BEP). The government is asked to formulate a Basic Energy Plan at least once every three years, and based on an evaluation of the effects of measures concerning energy, to make changes to the plan if necessary. (Basic Act on Energy Policy)
Japan’s Ministry of Energy Trade and Industry (METI) published its fourth Basic Energy Plan in April 2014. In it, according to World Nuclear News, METI considered nuclear power to be a quasi-domestic source that gives stable power, operates inexpensively and has a low greenhouse gas profile. However, the ministry noted that it must be developed with safety as a priority and with constant work on preparedness for emergency.
A METI Report calls for nuclear energy to account for 20%-22% of power generation by 2030, with 22%-24% coming from renewable energy sources, while coal’s share will be reduced to 26%, LNG’s to 27%, and oil’s to just 3%.
Sources of Energy
According to World Nuclear News, a plan setting a share of 20% to 22% for nuclear power in Japan’s energy mix by 2030 has been approved by a consultative committee. While scaling back fossil fuel use, the plan also calls for an expansion of renewable energy sources.
The long-term energy supply and demand outlook subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved the draft report on 1 June. The report, by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), says that total energy demand in Japan will increase from 940 TWh in 2013 to 980.8 TWh in 2030. In 2013, LNG accounted for 43.2% of Japan’s power generation, with 30.3% coming from coal and 14.9% from oil. Nuclear accounted for just 1.7%, with the remainder coming from renewable sources, according to figures from the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF).
Japan looks to transform its energy mix by 2030 (Image: JAIF)
Leading Energy Production Companies
We interviewed J-POWER, a non-renewable energy company which emitted 0.51 million tons of CO2 in 2015. The spokesman said that this coal-fired power still plays an important role in the stability of energy supply in Japan. He also pointed out, in the recent low carbon movement, his company should contribute to CO2 emission reduction by strengthening the effort to diffuse its advanced technologies such as high efficiency coal-fired, hydroelectric, wind, and geothermal power plants. J-POWER is a member of “The Electric Power Council for a Low Carbon Society (ELCS)”, which is composed of 36 Japanese energy companies. In order to achieve the CO2 reduction target of ELCS, it follows the PDCA cycle and make efforts to reduce CO2 emission.
Also, we were able to interview a new Japanese renewable energy company, called SB energy. It started generating solar power and wind power in 2012 when FIT (Feed-in Tariff) policies were enforced. Its generation capacity is approximately 500 MW, which is expected to be our new option. The interviewee stated that although the business itself contributes to CO2 emission reduction, it has not adopted any rule to reduce CO2 emission. FIT considerably affected this company, he said. FIT was aimed to promote new entry of renewable energy companies by forcing electricity companies to purchase renewable energy at a certain price. Initially, there were fewer renewable energy companies compared to Western countries; however, FIT is changing this situation.
Submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager Kenta Matsumoto