Japan government OKs energy plan, aiming to double renewables by 2030

The government on Friday approved its latest energy plan that sets out a road map toward a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, seeking to double the current ratio of renewables in the domestic electricity generation within a decade.

The government aims to have renewables accounting for 36% to 38% of total power generation capacity in fiscal 2030, more than twice as much as the 18% recorded in fiscal 2019 that ended in March last year.

The amount coming from thermal power sources will nearly halve, going from 75.7% to 41%, according to the plan, which is updated around every three years.

“We will make maximum effort to introduce renewable energy based on a principle of giving it top priority as a main power source in 2050,” the plan endorsed by the Cabinet said.

A draft of the plan was revealed at an industry ministry panel of experts in July under the government of former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who declared a 2050 target of net zero carbon dioxide emissions last year but was succeeded by Fumio Kishida early this month after stepping down due to public discontent with his performance.

Even after soliciting public opinion for a month through Oct. 4, as well as seeing Kishida inaugurated, no major revision was made from the draft stage, a ministry official told reporters.

Industry minister Koichi Hagiuda had said after taking his post early this month following the launch of the new administration that he wanted the revised basic energy plan to be finalized by the Cabinet before the U.N. Climate Change Conference, or COP26, which starts on Oct. 31 in Glasgow, Scotland.

As for nuclear power, the ratio will be 20% to 22% in fiscal 2030, according to the plan. The figure in fiscal 2019 was 6%, as many nuclear plants across the country remained offline due to stricter safety rules introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Although the plan vowed to “reduce dependency as much as possible” on nuclear power, the latest numerical target remained unchanged from the previous plan compiled in 2018. The earlier version of the plan had set the fiscal 2030 goal for renewables at 22% to 24%.

For the first time, the plan included a target for hydrogen and ammonia, which do not emit carbon dioxide when burned, aiming to secure 1% of the country’s total power generation from these next-generation energy sources.

The Cabinet also approved a government plan to combat global warming, which stipulates a range of measures toward the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by fiscal 2030 compared with fiscal 2013. Going beyond the previous commitment of a 26% cut, the new target was pledged by Suga in April.

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