Japan’s RE goals lag world, foreign minister says


ABU DHABI • Japan’s plans to develop its renewable energy (RE) industry are lagging much of the world, as the nation has “prioritised keeping the status quo for fear of change”, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said.

Japan wants RE to account for 22% to 24% of its overall energy mix by 2030, while the global average today is already 24%, Kono said yesterday at an International Renewable Energy Agency meeting in Abu Dhabi. “As Japanese foreign minister, I consider these circumstances lamentable.”

Japan held its first-ever solar power auction last November, with the aim of reducing costs in one of the most expensive countries to generate electricity from the sun. But the results showed “underwhelming demand”, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Government incentives have been decreasing since their introduction in 2012 following the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.

The support, known as feed-in-tariff, cost the Japanese public up to US$24 billion (RM95.28 billion) last year, and costs are expected to increase, Kono said.

“We need bold investments and institutional reforms to enhance the transmission network and electric power exchange between regional utilities for the larger deployment of renewables,” he said. There is some progress.

Japan is leading research and development in a new type of “printable” photovoltatic (PV) solar cell that may lead to further cost reductions in the PV market, he said.