Japan’s Energy Struggle Continues as Utilities Miss Renewable Energy Target

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The Japanese power distribution companies have failed to meet their renewable energy targets for the last financial year. 53 power utilities are required to procure a specified percentage of their total power mix from renewable energy sources. For financial year 2010, the power utilities were required to procure 11 billion kWh however, they could procure only 10.245 billion kWh, around 755,000 kWh or 755 megawatt-hours short of the requirement.

Japan aims to increase the renewable energy share in its power mix to 16 billion kWh by 2014. According to the latest data available, over 330,000 renewable power generators have been accredited under the Renewables Portfolio Standard with a combined generation capacity of over 12,630 MW.

Biomass-based power generators hold the biggest share in the RPS mechanism with over 9,600 MW capacity accredited. Wind energy generators have secured accreditation for over 1,600 MW while solar power generators contribute over 1,200 MW capacity. The balance generation capacity hydro power and geothermal-based power generators.

The shortfall in the RPS obligation is yet another wake-up call for the Japanese power sector as it struggles to refine its energy policy following the Fukushima nuclear accident. Japanese power companies have switched to other conventional fuels like natural gas for power generation following the shutdown of country’s nuclear power plants.

But merely switching to other conventional fuels is not a sustainable solution to the power crisis as they a) are expensive and getting even more expensive and b) create the problem of carbon emissions as Japan has international obligation to reduce carbon emissions.

A long-term and sustainable solution to Japan’s energy problems acquires even more importance as the Trade ministry recently announced that all the 54 nuclear power reactors could be shutdown by 2012 if local communities object to their operation.

Japan recently announced that it will keep its target to reduce its carbon emissions by 25% by 2020 from 1990 levels.

Image via Waynenf

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Mridul Chadha

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

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