A new law for renewable energy in Japan? If you haven't heard about it, well, here are a few details. I'm still not convinced it is the real deal.
The August 26, 2011, new law:
- "opens up" the power generation industry
- is meant to "reduce Japan's reliance on nuclear power"
- aims to achieve reduce Japan's greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 from the 1990 level
- will introduce a feed-in-tariff mechanism, common in Europe, that requires utilities to purchase at premium prices electricity produced from renewable sources
PV Magazine notes:
Andrew DeWitt is a politics and public policy professor in Tokyo and he believes that this legislation is a critical step in Japan fully adopting renewable energy. "You have to see everything [in light of] this recent trajectory of politics in Japan. In the wake of Fukushima, public opposition to nuclear energy has gone from basically people not being concerned with ‘nukes’ […] to more than 75 percent against it," DeWit told pv magazine.
The law will be effective as of July 1, 2012. Details as to what the FIT rates would be are yet to be determined. It is also unclear as to whether utilities will be required to purchase solar power. Japan’s electricity utilities remain relatively highly regulated and regional, although there have been recent moves to break up this system, spearheaded by charismatic entrepreneur Masayoshi Son.
PV Magazine: Japan: Renewable energy signed into law
A more optimistic voice comes from Eurobiz.jp that thinks Japan can learn from European initiatives, perhaps more wind than solar:
From July 2012, by law, power companies will have to purchase 100% of the renewable energy that power generators supply, and at fixed prices passed on to the consumer – so-called feed-in tariffs. That’s good news for the makers of wind-power turbines and related equipment.
Vestas Wind Systems A/S of Denmark is the largest global manufacturer, seller, installer, and servicer of wind turbines. “There will be a more conducive climate for investment in renewable energy,” says Luke Eginton, managing director of Vestas Japan. “[That] will have a positive effect on suppliers of renewable energy technologies in Japan.”
Brevini Power Transmission is a pioneer in the area of pitch and yaw drives used to orient turbines and blades in relation to the wind. These drives ensure the turbines optimise their position to generate energy efficiently and safely.
“We believe the new law will release the financial support needed for wind, and will see a resumption of new wind farm developments in Japan,” says Vittorio Falconeri, president of Brevini Japan. “We expect to see demand for relevant equipment pick up gradually from 2012.”
Eurobiz.jp: Gale force
Earlier, Reuters calculated the effects (and I'm much obliged to note that they have carefully looked into the issue):
Reuters: Solar potential at big utilities
A bill submitted to parliament in March would expand the range of renewable sources from the existing scheme for small-lot solar power suppliers, mainly house owners.
Even if the bill is passed in a divided parliament and utilities are obliged to buy electricity from mega solar projects in a so-called "feed-in" tariff scheme, solar panels are not economically viable in Japan without subsidies, according to a government estimate.
Construction of a 1,000-megawatt power plant using solar energy would cost three times as much as if it used wind power and at least 10 times as much as for nuclear energy, when the energy efficiency of each source is taken into account, a separate government estimate showed.
But solar panel prices are on the decline, and if houses and buildings are more effectively insulated, initial investments would be paid back in eight years or so, instead of 15 to 20 years currently, Mitsubishi Research's Komiyama said.
Limited transmission capacity between regionally dominant power companies is another factor keeping power suppliers from tapping into solar or wind power.
Unlike in Europe, where power grids are connected across national borders, Japan's fragmented system is divided into nine regions and links are used only when there is a sudden jump in demand or problems at power facilities.
In the northern Japan island of Hokkaido, where wind potential is higher than in other regions, for example, Hokkaido Electric Power Co limits its capacity for wind power to 360 megawatts, or a little more than 10 percent of the island's minimum power demand, to avoid any failure to meet demand.
A failure would cause unexpected blackouts.
But for utilities with larger power demand such as Tokyo Electric, Kansai Electric Power Co and Chubu Electric Power Co , their capacity for such variable sources should be much bigger.
Using a similar assumption, Tokyo Electric, which serves the country's economic heartland of Tokyo and its surrounding areas, could take in about 3,000 megawatts of wind and solar power combined without support from neighbouring utilities or causing unexpected blackouts.
I have major questions like how can a consumer opt out of his/her current energy utility, and pick another one. Japan needs independent energy companies. They can provide other energy mixes, such as non-nuclear, or non-oil, thus aiding people who want to support renewable energy. We have had such companies in Sweden for at least 5 years. A great way to vote with your Yen (or Krona).
It is not easy to judge which small initiative can help you and your business solve your issues. The Green Power Certification System established by the Japan Natural Energy Company in 2001 claims to be an example of how consumers (shops, restaurants, companies) can select renewable energy sources. The certification system enables consumers to purchase solar panels or wind by paying a premium for the certificate.
In 2007, on this blog, I introduced Natural-E. They are still going strong.
Kurashi: Reducing fossile fuel use in Japan
Japan's Green Power Certification System is a scheme for encouraging corporate and some other customers to use natural energy as one of their voluntary measures for energy conservation and environmental protection. With a Certification of Green Power, customers can show proof of their use of green electricity. This can serve various purposes such as meeting targets of fossil fuel savings and CO2 emission reductions...
I also wonder if this scheme (which is very good, but very small) for "Green Energy" in Japan will get a major boost or not. Say, from schools, colleges, restaurants, companies that make or import food, clothes, furniture - - - all kinds of businesses that should get involved.
I want to see that certificate (top image) displayed on your wall!