In 2019, Japan stood as one of the largest oil and coal consumers in the world but is now Asia’s “third-largest producer of renewable energy.” Renewable energy in Japan is on the rise.
Transitioning to renewable energy has its challenges. The cost of solar energy in Japan is high, land use restrictions limit the potential for wind power and Japan’s power grid “is segmented and consists of many smaller grids with weak interconnections.” Even so, a net zero society is still a feasible goal for the nation.
In 2021, renewables made up about 22% of total electricity generation, which is two percentage points higher than in 2020. Solar and wind power have become much more prominent thanks to the Renewable Energy Act, which became effective in 2022. This act defines renewable energy as solar, biomass, wind, geothermal and hydropower.
Additionally, the Japanese government is planning on establishing wind power as a cheaper energy source than thermal energy and aims to reach this goal by 2035. Japan aims to accomplish this mainly by increasing its generation of wind energy. Making wind power more affordable will be especially impactful for low-income communities because low-income communities in Japan have a much higher energy poverty rate than their more wealthy counterparts.
Clean Energy Decreasing Poverty
Improving access to clean energy reduces poverty by increasing access to education and improving public health. Japan has been noticing the need for clean energy along with the need for reducing poverty. Here are some ways the country is taking action on both at the same time:
- The Japan-U.S. Clean Energy Partnership (JUCEP). The U.S. and Japan formed this partnership in 2021 to assist nations across the world, especially in the Indo-Pacific, “to accelerate their decarbonization efforts while achieving energy security and sustainable growth by deploying clean, affordable and secure energy technologies.” The goals of JUCEP include renewable energy transitions through the use of “geothermal, wind, solar, hydropower and critical minerals.” The overall aim is to move toward sustainability and energy security in the Indo-Pacific.
- The Strategic Energy Plan. Japan’s Agency of Natural Resources and Energy published the sixth revision of this plan in 2021. The plan’s goal is to scale up renewable energy, decrease the need for fossil fuels and add hydrogen and ammonia as energy sources. As part of this plan, the Clean Energy Strategy aims to ensure utility operators and individuals can adjust their manners of working and living to align with carbon neutrality. In addition, the plan aims to reduce the costs of renewable energy to ensure accessibility, among other goals.
With the rising costs of electricity and the unsustainability of fossil fuels, the world is realizing the importance o transitioning to renewable energy. Countries, such as Japan, are not only looking to move toward clean energy but are also prioritizing the accessibility of renewable energy so that it can benefit all people regardless of income level.
With these developments and more to come, the future looks bright for renewable energy in Japan. By 2030, the country expects to derive 60% of its power from clean energy sources and is set to achieve full carbon neutrality by 2050.
– Ava Ronning