Phillip Riley

Phillip Riley Research Series: Japan Report

Located in Eastern Asia, Japan’s large population in proportion to its small land-mass has resulted in the delayed implementation of renewable energy techniques. The current renewable energy target for Japan states that by 2030, renewable energy will account for 22% to 24% of the country’s power mix . When this target was set in June 2014, renewable energy accounted for approximately 15%, and imported fossil fuels accounted for a large majority of Japan’s power generation. A further Intended Nationally Determined Target aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% from 2013 levels by 20302 . In order to achieve this, a self-sufficiency sub-target has been set. The sub-target aims to increase Japan’s renewable energy production by reducing the amount of imported fossil fuels following the closure of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant following the 2011 Fukushima earthquake. This target is progressing well due to the recent spike in solar installation in 2014 and 2015. Although there was some scepticism around Japan meeting its renewable energy targets, following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the recent shift towards renewable energy is a step in the right direction.
Prior to the 2011 Fukushima earthquake, Japan’s energy mix was highly dependent on coal and nuclear power, with minimal contributions from renewable energy technologies. In years preceding 2011, the renewable energy mix consisted mainly of hydropower and biomass. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan saw a major shift to oil and natural gas. The unexpected nature of the earthquake resulted in Japan having no choice but to import large quantities of oil, natural gas and coal.
Following this event, Japan imported approximately 84% of its energy supply. During this period, Japan received majority of its oil from the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia and imported coal from Australia. This illustrates the highly dependent nature of Japan’s energy mix, demonstrating why a large emphasis has been placed on the self-sufficiency target. Japan’s dependency following the Fukushima earthquake provides an explanation as to why the implementation of renewable energy technologies has been delayed.

To continue to read the full Japan Report as part of our Research Series “The Future is Renewable: Targets and Policies by Country”, please click “Read More”.

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