The government plans to announce in its long-term energy strategy that renewables are a "major" energy source while continuing to support nuclear power because of its zero carbon emissions, a draft of the plan said Friday. The industry ministry presented the draft to a roundtable of experts studying the nation's energy policy through 2050, calling renewables an "energy source whose possibility of becoming a major (source) is greatly increasing." Although attention has been on whether a raw breakdown of the country's future energy mix will be included, the government is likely to postpone setting such numerical targets. The most recent targets set out in 2015 seek to have renewable sources account for 22 to 24 percent and nuclear 20 to 22 percent of electric power generation in fiscal 2030. The government is expected to finalize the long-term energy plan in April at the earliest.
Renewable energy development will accelerate and Japan will keep its current policy of lowering its dependence on nuclear power as it aims for a low-carbon society, a government panel report on the energy plan through 2050 showed Tuesday. The long-term policy comes as Japan lags behind the global trend to invest in renewables, and nuclear power is no longer deemed a cheap energy source in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in 2011, with utilities required to massively invest to meet tougher safety regulations. "Japan will keep the policy of lowering its dependency on nuclear power generation as much as possible while seeking to expand economically independent and carbon-free renewable energy," the report by the eight-member panel says. The members include scholars and business executives. The report did not establish specific numerical percentages of the country's future energy mix in 2050.
Japan will shift further toward renewable energy and cut dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power, according to the country's energy plan approved Tuesday by the Cabinet. Ahead of the automatic July renewal of the U.S.-Japan agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the plan for a medium- to long-term energy policy also mentioned that Japan will work to reduce its plutonium stockpile for the first time. The increased focus on renewables under the 2015 Paris climate accord underscores Japan's daunting challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically in the years ahead. The government, which updates the energy plan roughly every three years, kept its goals the same for its mix of energy sources in fiscal 2030 but did not give specific numbers for fiscal 2050 the year when it has to clear a certain goal in fighting global warming. Toward 2030, the government aims to have renewables account for 22 to 24 percent, fossil fuels 56 percent and nuclear power 20 to 22 percent in the country's electricity generation, the energy plan showed.
The Cabinet approved a plan Tuesday to reduce greenhouse emissions to zero in the second half of the 21st century as part of its strategy to fight climate change. Renewable energy such as solar and wind will be the mainstay of the nation's energy mix to achieve the goal, although coal-fired power plants will remain operational -- a policy criticized by some energy experts as being insufficient to significantly cut carbon dioxide emissions. Japan plans to present the strategy to the United Nations by late June, when it hosts the Group of 20 summit, as required under the Paris climate agreement. The 2015 accord aims to keep the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Japan and Italy are the only nations among the Group of Seven countries that have yet to present a strategy.
Japan may be feeling the effects of global warming more than ever with the series of natural disasters that hit the archipelago this summer, but this resource-poor country is sticking with coal-fired energy production that emits more than double the carbon dioxide generated by liquid natural gas-fueled plants. To meet its pledge to the world in the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord, Japan aims to achieve a 26 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by fiscal 2030 from the fiscal 2013 level. But the government has drawn a lot of criticism from both in and outside the country for going against the international trend to move away from coal. In November 2017, Japan was again embarrassed by winning a "Fossil of the Day Award" for its failure to make sufficient efforts to tackle climate change. The award's organizer, Climate Action Network, said that "Japan together with the U.S. administration is still trying to promote nuclear and coal, which hinders efforts for expanding renewable energy in developing countries.