On the Start of Revisions to the Strategic Energy PlanNext March will mark ten years since the nuclear disaster at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and in November of next year, COP26 is being held to strengthen climate change measures. Japan’s current Strategic Energy Plan needs to be revised to show that Japan is committed to an energy future based on renewable energy that relies neither on nuclear power nor, ultimately, on fossil fuels.
On 13 October, at the meeting convened of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy’s Strategic Policy Committee, the document submitted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, “Toward Revisions to the Strategic Energy Plan,” provided detailed overviews of trends in Europe, China and the US, where the energy transition is advancing with the aim of decarbonization, and of the initiatives of companies and financial institutions around the world. This suggests that the Japanese Government is intending to catch up to the changes taking place globally.
However, while referring to the need to once again reorganize its 3E+S approach (Energy Security, Economic Efficiency, Environment + Safety), the discussion of supply stability centered on securing fossil fuels from overseas, and the discussion of nuclear power was limited to improving safety in the narrow sense. There was no evidence of plans to fundamentally change the existing Strategic Energy Plan, whose main focus is fossil fuels and nuclear power.
Globally, the supply of low cost renewable energy in large volumes is becoming a reality, and new prospects are emerging for meeting not only electric power demand but also energy demand from the industrial and transport sectors with hydrogen and other fuels manufactured from renewable energy. At the same time, as the climate crisis deepens, we are getting close to the day in which fossil fuel resources will not be able to be utilized, even if they are possessed.
Along with increasing energy efficiency, making renewable energy the focus of energy supply would make it possible to ensure supply stability without susceptibility to changes in international conditions or erratic fluctuations in fossil fuel prices. And, it would reduce imports of fossil fuels, which annually run to more than 10 trillion yen. Further, transitioning to renewable energy, which is a distributed source of power, from large-scale, centralized power sources like nuclear and coal-fired thermal, while also further developing electricity systems, and improving their operations, to allow for nationwide use of renewable energy—which is available in ample volumes in various regions—would create an electricity supply system with strong resiliency even in disasters.
As indicated in Renewable Energy Institute’s proposal in August of this year, if appropriate policy steps are taken, it will be possible to supply 45% of electric power with renewable energy by 2030. The proposal to raise the target for renewable energy in 2030 to 40–45% or higher has rapidly spread to Japan’s companies and local governments.
It is expected that the upcoming revisions to the Strategic Energy Plan will clearly convey an energy mix for 2030 that is not reliant on either nuclear or coal-fired thermal power, but centered on renewable energy with a view to realizing a decarbonized society by 2050.
Comment on Japan’s 2050 Carbon Neutral Declaration: 45% Emission Reduction is Needed by 2030 (26 October 2020)
[Summary] Proposal for 2030 Energy Mix in Japan (First Edition): Establish a Society Based on Renewable Energy (6 August 2020)