Japanese Energy Plan Emphasizes Coal Over Renewables

Posted: 04/23/2014  browse the blog archive
Japanese Energy Plan Emphasizes Coal Over Renewables

Environmentalists are disappointed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new energy plan, which was approved by his cabinet on April 11, reported Bloomberg.  The plan identifies coal as an important long-term electricity source and fails to establish specific targets for cleaner energy production generated by wind, solar, and geothermal, thus undermining hopes among environmentalists that the prime minister would use the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident to transition the nation to renewables. 

Prior to the nuclear disaster, Japan received approximately one-third of its electricity from fossil fuels and the remainder from nuclear reactors.  After the 2011 nuclear disaster, the government closed its reactors for safety checks, which propelled the use of fossil fuels such as liquefied natural gas and coal.  Abe’s energy plan indicated that such fossil fuels currently account for about 90 percent of Japan’s electricity. 

In lieu of renewables, Abe’s government is endorsing advanced coal technologies.  A process known as “integrated gasification combined cycle” (IGCC) improves the efficiency of power generation by removing impurities from the synthesized gas before it is burned, resulting in lower carbon emissions.  Tokyo Electric, one of Japan’s major utilities, plans to add two IGCC generators at plants in Fukushima.

Japan’s new energy plan echoes current trends in Europe and the U.S., where demand for cheap electricity is undercutting policies to limit fossil fuel emissions and support cleaner energy.  A frigid winter in the U.S. raised natural gas prices, catalyzing utilities to extend the lives of coal plans.  Germany, Spain, and Britain are reducing subsidies for renewable energy to rein in the cost of electricity.

The Chanler Group is actively engaged in the review and analysis of incentive-based renewable energy programs to determine potential benefits to our clients.  Global energy consumption continues to increase each year and, with this increase, the demand for safe, clean, and unlimited energy is on the rise.  The Federal and State governments promote this interest through a variety of financially-beneficial incentives.  Our understanding of these laws allows us to guide homeowners, businesses, and/or developers through the various ways to take advantage of these incentive-based benefits.  With the appreciation that renewable energy laws and regulations are constantly changing, The Chanler Group is committed to investing in its understanding and practice of this area of law.