Japan’s Post-Fukushima Economy Can Rely On Renewables, Claims IEEFA

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A new report published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis has outlined how Japan, in a post-Fukushima economy, can rebuild its electricity sector around the central idea of renewable energy.

The new report, Japan: Greater Energy Security Through Renewables: Electricity Transformation in a Post-Nuclear Economy, highlights the massive potential Japan has to build out its national energy security through renewables — specifically wind and solar.

Japan’s Historical Population and Electricity Generation

Energy productivity gains expected throughout the country will drive down electricity demand from the 1,140 terawatt hours (TWH) of 2010, down to 868 TWh in 2030. This is due in part to population decline, in combination with massive energy efficiency driving further energy productivity gains.

To make the most of these demand declines, Japan could refocus away from its traditional reliance on nuclear energy — a move which has already been dictated by popular feelings after the Fukushima accident of 2011 — and toward solar and wind. Solar PV could account for 12% of the country’s electricity mix by 2030, up from its current levels of 4%. Japan could also adopt significant levels of wind power, especially offshore wind, which could grow to as much as 10 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

Overall, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) predicts Japan can meet 35% of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030 — assuming that a “much-needed policy push to increase solar and offshore wind capacity” is given the support it needs. This is vital, considering that it is highly likely that Japan’s mothballed 40 GW nuclear industry will never recover. Additionally, the country is likely to scale back its coal-fired power plans, with the IEEFA predicting that many of the 45 coal-fired plants currently proposed will never reach the construction phase.

“Japan is in a position now to adopt prudent policy decisions that can attract vast capital to renewable infrastrucure in support of true national energy security in a way that can eliminate its long-term reliance on imported fossil fuels and nuclear production,” said Tim Buckley, IEEFA’s director of energy finance Studies, Australasia, and co-author of the report with Simon Nicholas, an IEEFA finance analyst.


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Joshua S Hill

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