As new FiT kicks in Japan previews energy policy options
Japan opened several solar energy parks on Sunday as its new feed-in tariff (FiT) law came into force, requiring the country’s 10 regional electricity companies to purchase renewable energy at a fixed prices in a push for alternatives to nuclear power.
Ahead of the start of its new FiT regime the Japanese government held a press conference on Friday to present three long-term energy policy options for public debate. It aims to select one of the three in August, officially shifting the country away from its previous goal of raising the share of power generated by nuclear energy to at least 50 percent by 2030.
In Kyoto a new 2.1-MW “pilot” solar plant in Kyoto was switched on by SB Energy, the renewable energy subsidiary of telecommunications and Internet conglomerate Softbank, while various municipalities also started up installations able to provide energy for hundreds of thousands of households.
At the same time, however, engineers at Kansai Electric’s Ohi nuclear power plant began restarting two reactors, despite growing public protests in the aftermath of meltdowns at Fukushima, ending nearly two months in which Japan was nuclear-free.
With public confidence in the safety of nuclear power generation still in tatters in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, the nuclear component in the Japanese government’s three long-terms energy options ranges from zero to 20-25 percent by 2030, down from about 30 percent before the disaster.
Japan’s pre-Fukushima energy policy, published in 2010, was aimed at ensuring energy security, lower energy costs and achieving an ambitious 25 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels by 2020. According to a government spokesman at Friday’s briefing an additional goal now is to reduce its reliance on nuclear power in the medium to long term, while bolstering safety.
"All of the three options are compliant to the goals we now have - lower reliance on nuclear power, lower reliance on fossil fuels and lower carbon dioxide emissions," said Motohisa Furukawa, national strategy minister. "We're presenting these scenarios as a springboard for the discussion."
The three option put forward by the government were selected by a group of cabinet ministers based on recommendations by advisory panels of experts. The public will be able to comment on the three options in July via email, letters or hearings held at 11 sites across the country. The government will also hold an opinion poll in early August.
Below are the options for Japan's new policy with a breakdown of each energy type, compared with that in the year to March 31, 2011, and estimated greenhouse gas emissions in each option and in fiscal 2010/11.
1990 CO2e Reduction