Energy Politics

Japan is seeking a way to a clean energy future ten years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Clean energy in Japan is no more on the fringes of official discourse 10 years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami, as well as triple reactor failure at Fukushima number 1 power plant. Rather, it has become an essential component of government policy, business strategy, as well as public interest in achieving economic and environmental objectives. Renewable energy sources, especially geothermal energy, solar, wind, hydro, as well as biomass, are projected to play key roles in Japan’s attempt of becoming carbon neutral by the year 2050, despite difficult cost as well as technical obstacles, raising concerns about higher electricity bills as well as supply stability.

Renewable energy sources accounted for just 9.5 percent of the nation’s power mix in the year 2010, the year before the 11 March 2011, tragedy. Renewables now account for 18% of Japan’s produced electricity in the fiscal year 2019. Renewables are expected to provide for between 22 percent and 24 percent of the nation’s power supply by the year 2030, according to the government’s latest long-term energy plan.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stated in January that “the renewable energy would be implemented to the fullest extent practicable,” noting that the government planned to use offshore wind as well as hydrogen ammonia more. Suga’s remarks on the offshore wind emerged a month after top industry and government leaders declared a target of the offshore wind farms generating 10 gigawatts of electricity by the year 2030 as well as somewhere between 30 and about 45 gigawatts by the year 2040. That’s the same amount of energy generated by 30 to about 45 nuclear reactors. Just nine reactors were officially certified for restart, but there are only four who were operational as of last month.

In August 2011, the transition to clean energy sources started to pick up speed. The country’s fossil fuel as well as nuclear power industries, as well as influential politicians linked to them, have fought back against pressure from inside the government headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan to expand renewable energy consumption by passing the feed-in tariff.

Kan as well as the Democratic Party of Japan-controlled Diet approved the tariff as being one of his last actions as Prime Minister before having to resign over an inability to control the situation. The tariff set financing costs for renewable energy-generated electricity at the rates intended to attract investors. When the tariff went into effect in 2012, it sparked a surge in investment as well as interest in the renewable energy. Governors and mayors around the country have begun to voice their support for moving away from nuclear power and investing more in renewables.