Comments on the Proposed Power Supply Mix for 2030The revision of the Strategic Energy Plan should align with the new target of a 46% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a further 50% reduction by 2030, and must set out a path to carbon neutrality by 2050. While the proposed power mix released today is a step forward from the previous plan, it still leaves many of the limitations of traditional energy policies.
1. With regard to renewable energy, it is important to note that the new draft plan clearly states that "maximum efforts will be made to introduce renewable energy based on the principle of top priority." In the debate surrounding the revision of the Strategic Energy Plan, many businesses and local governments have called for setting a high target of 40-50% for the renewables introduction, and renewable energy industries as well as the Institute have demonstrated that there is potential for a significant increase in the introduction of renewables. The fact that the principle of giving top priority to renewables has been enshrined is a welcome reflection of these calls.
The specific power source mix proposed, which, like other power sources, is considered provisional, is around 36-38%. This is an increase of more than 10 percentage points from the 22-24% level that has been set so far, but it is still lower than the 2030 target of 50-70% set by European countries and developed states in the US.
The draft plan states that "this level is not a cap, but rather a target that will be raised even higher in the future if initiatives that cannot be envisaged at this time are taken and these levels are reached sooner and the amount of renewable energy installed increases." We urge the Government to propose even more ambitious targets in order to compile the Government's proposal for public comment, and to urgently implement measures such as power system reform, a series of regulatory reforms and the introduction of carbon pricing, which are necessary to accelerate the introduction of renewable electricity.
2. The share of nuclear power generation has been left unchanged at 20-22%, but as is well known, only 10 reactors have been restarted so far since all reactors were stopped following the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. In order to achieve this level, it is assumed that 27 reactors, including 17 that have not yet been put into operation, will be put into operation, and that a higher capacity factor of 80% will be achieved compared with an average of 67.8% in the 10 years prior to the nuclear accident. The 27 reactors include 8 reactors that will not be able to operate in 2030 without a new license extension for 60-year operation. The 20-22% target is extremely difficult to achieve and is likely to fall far short of the reality.
Reducing dependence on nuclear power as much as possible is a fundamental premise of Japan's energy policy in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as stated in the draft paper. Setting a high target for nuclear power without any evidence is totally contrary to this premise.
3. The proposed power mix will still use around 19% coal-fired power in 2030. "Not only USC (ultra-supercritical) but also IGCC (Integrated Coal Gasification Combined Cycle) and IGFC (Integrated Coal Gasification Fuel Cell Combined Cycle), which the draft plan states will be developed, emit 1.7 to 2 times as much carbon dioxide as natural gas power. That is why developed countries other than Japan are phasing out all coal-fired power, except where CCS is installed.
It has to be said that the proposed power mix, which makes clear the continued use of coal-fired power, casts doubt on the seriousness of Japan's commitment to avoiding a climate crisis.
Renewable Energy Institute's "Proposal for the 2030 Energy Mix," published in August 2020, proposes a "sustainable energy mix" in which renewables provide 45% of the electricity supply. This would improve all the elements of the S+3E principle of Japan's energy policy: safety, security of supply, environmental compatibility and economic efficiency. We call the Japanese Government to take a bold step toward energy transformation in the revised draft of the Strategic Energy Plan.
Proposal for 2030 Energy Mix in Japan (First Edition): Establish a Society Based on Renewable Energy (6 August 2020)