Japan raises renewable energy target for 2030 energy mix

TOKYO: Japan will raise its renewable energy target in the country’s electricity mix for 2030 as a draft of its latest energy policy pushes it to cut emissions to meet commitments under international agreements on climate change.

The country’s revised basic energy strategy leaves its target for nuclear energy unchanged, although the country struggled to restore industry to its former central role after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

The Industry Department’s draft policy, released on Wednesday, says renewables should account for 36-38% of electricity in 2030, twice as much as 18% in the fiscal year ended March 2020. The previous target was for renewables to account for 22-24% of electricity in 2030.

Consumption of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, will be reduced from 26% to 19% under the new plan.

Gas entering Japan in the form of imported liquefied natural gas will make up most of the remaining fossil fuel share of the target energy mix, which has been set from 56% to 41%.

Japan’s nuclear target was left unchanged at 20-22%. According to the draft, new fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia will make up around 1% of the electricity mix in 2030.

Given the increasing urgency to tackle climate change, the revised 2030 Energy Plan is “ambitious” rather than “an ideal vision,” said an industrial ministry official.

The change comes after Japan nearly doubled its CO2 emissions reduction target by 2030, from 26% from 2013 to 46% in response to pressure from the United States to become one of US leaders -President Joe Biden hosted climate summit.

Many experts say the nuclear target is difficult to achieve in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, which caused a huge shift in public opinion after exposing failures by industry and regulators and leading to the shutdown of all reactors in the country.

Nine reactors are currently in operation, the highest number since the disaster. The country previously had 54 operational reactors.

The draft did not mention the construction of new nuclear power plants or the replacement of equipment, which some industrial and corporate executives had urged the government to include.

Japan wants to reduce its dependence on nuclear power as much as possible while increasing the capacity of renewable energies, but nuclear power will remain an important base load source of electricity, the draft says.

The Ministry of Industry did not want to comment on when the revised energy plan will be completed. The government reviews its basic energy plan every three to four years. – Reuters

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