With strong policy leadership, Japan can reach a 35 per cent renewable power share by 2030 – according to a new report.
The report “Japan: Greater Energy Security Through Renewables: Electricity Transformation in a Post-Nuclear Economy” released by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) outlines that: “increases in energy efficiency have driven down electricity demand in Japan over the past six years and will continue to do so going forward.”
Furthermore, this energy efficiency supports the expansion of renewables – namely offshore wind and solar energy.
However, the report said that regulatory and grid barriers to renewables must be addressed for the nation to tap capital markets to support national renewable energy programmes.
According to the IEEFA’s estimations, Japan will reach 100 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by the end the 2016 fiscal year.
Japan abruptly changed its electricity generation system in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident of 11 March 2011 which saw the retirement of the Japanese nuclear industry.
Power demand is now falling in the country, leading the authors of the report to conclude that many of the 45 proposed coal-fired power projects will not reach the construction phase.
Japan’s power demand is projected to fall to 868 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2030 from 1,140 TWh in 2010.
At the same time, renewables are becoming an increasingly attractive alternative to fossil fuels.
According to IEEFA, 10 GW of offshore wind in the country by 2030 is an “entirely feasible” target – if the right policy framework and support are in place.
IEEFA said: “Japanese offshore wind-power resources have been largely overlooked but have tremendous potential, and can viably contribute to baseload power demand”.
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) capacity in Japan is projected to reach 12 per cent of the country’s power generation by 2030, it currently stands at 4 per cent; however, new policy support by the government will be required for the solar expansion in the country to continue at the levels achieved in the past few years.
A recent move towards reverse auctions for large-scale solar suggests Japan can realise significant further solar cost reductions, like those currently being achieved around the world, the IEEFA said – with 500 megawatts (MW) to be auctioned this year.
The report said: “Japan can go a long way toward delivering on its Paris climate agreement commitments and improving its energy security by increasing the share of renewable energy in its generation mix.”