Japan plans dramatic shift to renewables

Japan is to significantly increase its target for renewable energy electricity generation to 2030, according to a draft of its latest energy policy.

The industry ministry’s policy draft says renewables should account for 36-38% of power supplies in 2030, double the level of 18% in the financial year to March 2020. The earlier target was for renewables to contribute 22-24% of electricity in 2030.

The country’s revised basic energy strategy leaves unchanged its target for nuclear power, even though the country has struggled to return the industry to its former central role after the Fukushima disaster of 2011.

The use of coal will be reduced to 19% from 26% under the new plan.

However, some commentators say the nuclear target will difficult to achieve in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, which led to a significant shift in public opinion after it exposed industry and regulator failings and led to the temporary shutdown of all the country’s reactors.

Nine reactors are operating now, the highest number since the disaster. The country had 54 operable reactors previously.

The draft did not mention building new nuclear plants or replacing plants, which some industry and corporate executives had urged the government to include.

Japan aims to reduce its reliance on nuclear power as much as possible while it boosts renewable power capacity, but nuclear power will remain as an important base-load power source, the draft says.

Japan’s industry ministry declined to comment on when the revised energy plan will be finalised. The government revises its basic energy plan once every three to four years.

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