Japan struggles for balance in pivot to renewables
Infrastructure constraints confound efforts to close thermal power plants
Like many countries, Japan has to juggle the current reality of power supply with its net-zero goals. While there’s no going back to the primacy of fossil fuels, Japan is taking small steps to resolve immediate energy issues and hoping for a lucky break in future ‘dream’ technologies to meet its 2030 and 2050 emissions reduction commitments — but challenges abound, writes Mayumi Watanabe.
The expansion of Japan’s renewable energy sector has resulted in transmission capacity bottlenecks, causing solar output curtailment. At the same time, moving to a system in which thermal power plays a supporting role to renewables throws up technical and economic issues.
In June, the government hopes to shed light on how those issues might be resolved by publishing a new Clean Energy Strategy. It will act as a roadmap for how to achieve the 46% carbon reduction from FY2013 levels Japan has promised, a vow based on a doubling of renewables’ share and a halving of thermal capacity.
The Strategy will need…