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New Year’s Column 2022, A Year to Further Accelerate Renewables and Moving Toward the Decarbonization of the Industry Sector

Teruyuki Ohno, Executive Director, Renewable Energy Institute

11 January 2022

in Japanese

Last year, in 2021, renewable energy growth in Japan entered a new phase. Under the government’s revised Strategic Energy Plan, the country’s target for renewable electricity in fiscal 2030 was raised to 36-38%. The plan also made clear for the first time that renewable energy was the “highest priority” and that the target was not a cap; the aim is for an even higher percentage.

The move toward accelerating renewable energy use was most significantly driven by corporations and local governments. Corporate PPA projects, which enables companies to take the initiative in procuring the electricity they use, spread very quickly to many industries, including retail, logistics, manufacturing, IT, real estate, construction, and finance. More and more companies are making concrete plans to utilize such programs in order to cover 50% or even 100% of the electricity they use with renewable electricity by 2030.

A focus of attention in local governments has been the start of policies mandating installation of solar PV facilities when new buildings are constructed. Kyoto City and Kyoto Prefecture have led the way in this regard, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has recently moved to expand its mandate to include residential construction.

At the end of year, on December 24, the results of the offshore wind auction to select operators for Japan’s first offshore wind power project were announced. This marks the official start of offshore wind power in Japan, which will play a major role in the country’s renewable energy growth going forward.

It will be necessary this year to further accelerate these progressive initiatives. In Europe, many countries already supply 40-50% of electricity with renewable energy. The new coalition government that took power in Germany at the end of last year straightaway raised the country’s 2030 renewable electricity target to 80%.

In Europe, based on its track record of renewable energy growth, efforts are being made to introduce green hydrogen and take the global lead in decarbonizing steelmaking and other heavy and chemical industries. If Europe succeeds in its green steel initiative and Japan lags behind, Japanese industrial products, including automobiles, will lose their competitive edge in the global market as decarbonization efforts are increasingly in demand.

At his year-end press conference, Prime Minister Kishida indicated how the government recognizes that climate change is a central issue to the "new capitalism" he has been advocating since he took office. Accelerating renewable energy expansion and energy efficiency and integrating this to decarbonization of the industry sector is the path that will enable new growth for Japan’s economy in a world where zero emissions is the market rule.

Japan’s ministries and agencies continue to work to extend the life of fossil fuels, including coal-fired power, through use of CCS, mixed ammonia combustion, and other methods. But even if large volumes of carbon dioxide can be captured, it cannot be stored in Japan, and there are even plans to export it to countries in Southeast Asia. Precious time and funds should not be spent on such attempts that have no realistic prospect of success.

Renewable Energy Institute will continue to publish studies and policy recommendations aimed at further accelerating energy transition centered on renewable energy and decarbonization of the industry sector. We will also further deepen our collaboration with companies, local governments, NGOs, and other groups working to realize a decarbonized society.

Thank you for your continuing support and cooperation.
 

External Links

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  • irelp
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