Renewables Update

Great Risks Involved in Palm Oil Power Generation:
Sustainability Standards Are Urgently Needed
in Japanese

12 September 2017 (Japanese original published on 4 September 2017)
Takanobu Aikawa, Senior Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute

Developments in palm oil power generation under FiT

Bioenergy generation capacity registered under the Feed-in Tariff scheme (FiT) is rapidly growing. As of 31 March 2017, more than 12 GW had been registered for biomass generation, among which 11 GW or more was for "ordinary wood and agricultural residues" mainly using imported woody biomass. In November 2016, Renewable Energy Institute published a set of recommendations, pointing out problems such as concerns over fuel shortage and limited development of combined heat and power (CHP) 1 . However, within a year after after the recommendations were published, 8 GW of ordinary wood has been registered. Some measures must be taken immediately 2 . Meanwhile a new problem has emerged as palm oil power plant has been registered under the FiT and put into operation.

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Business Risks of the 42 New Coal-fired Power Plant Projects in Japan
—Capacity Factor May Decline to Less Than 50% by FY 2026
in Japanese

4 August 2017 (Japanese original published on 31 July 2017)
Yuri Okubo, Senior Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute
Teruyuki Ohno, Executive Director, Renewable Energy Institute

Following the adoption and the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, there has been a growing global trend to shift away from coal business with the aim of transforming to a carbon-free economy. But in Japan, the number of new coal-fired power plant projects has swollen to 42 plants (18.6 GW) since the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe for several reasons: as an alternative to nuclear power plants that have not been able to restart immediately; to respond to the anticipated increase in future electricity demand; and also to secure an inexpensive energy source needed for new comers to the market or for entering into other regions under the energy market liberalization.

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Solar covered 76% of a demand in Kyushu at its peak generation in Japanese

4 July 2017 (Japanese original published on 12 June 2017)
Keiji Kimura, Senior Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute
Tatsuya Wakeyama, Senior Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute

Kyushu is an area with the largest growth of solar PV deployment in Japan. Hence, it was widely feared that solar power curtailment, already implemented in some remote islands, will be imposed this year in mainland Kyushu as well. However, it appears that Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. was able to endure through April and May 2017 without implementing any solar power curtailment. The spring holidays are considered a period in which electricity demand decreases in particular, with little demand for heating and cooling. At the same time, it is a period when solar PV output particularly rises under favorable weather conditions, given the strong solar radiation. Kyushu Electric Power has announced that solar power output at 1:00 pm on 23 April covered 76% of demand in its service area (Fig. 1). The maximum output of solar power on 23 April was 6.07 GW, while electricity demand in Kyushu Electric Power service area was 7.98 GW.

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Renewables are unstoppable
― thoughts on President Trump’s speech announcing his decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change
in Japanese

13 June 2017 (Japanese original published on 2 June 2017)
Mika Ohbayashi, Director, Renewable Energy Institute

United States President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would no longer participate in the Paris climate agreement. It is very irresponsible and extremely regretful that the U.S., the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emissions country, withdraws from the Paris Agreement in which nearly 200 nations participate.

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Nothing to gain for Trump in Japanese

7 June 2017 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Renewable Energy Institute
(First published on ETC Göteborg on 7 June 2017 in Swedish)

President Trump has decided to withdraw from the Paris agreement to limit the risks of climate change. He says it is because he "was chosen to serve the residents of Pittsburgh, not Paris". It sounded good, but it was not so wise. The global climate policy is not meant to protect the residents of Paris. It is about protecting the world from climate change that is so rapid that they lead to human suffering and large numbers of refugees.

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Solar PV cheaper than LNG-power in Japan makes massive deployment possible in Japanese

26 May 2017 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Renewable Energy Institute
Romain Zissler, Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute

Massive introduction of renewable energy is only possible if efficient regulation and industrial learning reduce costs so that renewable energy costs are less than those of fossil and nuclear energy. In many parts of the world that has now become reality.

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Solar now provides more installed power, and more electricity than nuclear in Japan in Japanese

16 May 2017 Romain Zissler, Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute
Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Renewable Energy Institute

Following the introduction of a feed-in tariffs (FIT) in July 2012, solar photovoltaic (PV) scaled up fast in Japan. As a result of this growth the technology has recently passed a milestone: Solar PV has passed nuclear electricity in Japan.

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How fast can costs come down in Japan? in Japanese

8 May 2017 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Renewable Energy Institute

Off-shore wind power has been expensive. More expensive than producing electricity from fossil fuels, and sometimes compared to new nuclear power in Europe. However, in the last year, several European countries have been procuring electricity from off-shore wind at rapidly falling prices.

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How Japan has managed to substitute nuclear power and the trade balance consequences in Japanese

8 March 2017 Romain Zissler, Tomas Kåberger & Amory Lovins

In mid-March 2011, the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant experienced several core melts, and emissions of radioactive substances into the Pacific Ocean started. As this was contrary to earlier assurances that the nuclear power plants were designed to withstand the earthquakes that could shake Japan, as well as consequent tsunamis, public trust for the industry was lost. In the following year reactors could not get permission to restart after closing and for a short period in 2012, and again for part of 2013 and all of 2014, all nuclear power plants in Japan were closed. At the end of 2016, about 34 ‘operational’ nuclear GW in Japan had been shut down for a capacity-weighted average of 5.2 years, many with dubious restart prospects—though Japan still insists that the International Atomic Energy Agency count them all as ’operational’ in apparent violation of IAEA definitions ⅰ .

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Series: Considering the True Acceleration of Electricity System Reform
Vol.9: Renewable electricity development in the European market
in Japanese

13 January 2017 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Renewable Energy Institute

An electricity grid requires balance between production and consumption. If that fails, the voltage or frequency will not be stable and there may be power cuts. Thus, the fundamental rule of a competitive electricity market is that any contract between a buyer and a seller of electricity must define who is responsible for balancing the amount of electricity fed into the grid and how much is consumed.

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Series: Considering the True Acceleration of Electricity System Reform
Vol.5: Issues of decommissioning cost and wheeling charges from the consumers’ perspective
in Japanese

13 January 2017 (Japanese original published on 12 December 2016)
Chikako Futamura, Director of Member Activities Division, Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union

Consumer organizations have long dealt with the issues of electricity charges as “public utility charges.” When electricity charges are seen as public utility charges, any raise in these charges must be approved by the national government. It is also necessary to consult with the Consumer Commission ⅰ  and hold public hearings. Several consumer representatives participate in the Consumer Commission, and representatives of consumer organizations in the relevant areas are allowed to give their opinions at the public hearing. In this way, the conventional system has ensured the involvement of consumers, whether it is sufficient or not. <Figure 1>

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Series: Considering the True Acceleration of Electricity System Reform
Vol.4: How special is the accounting system for nuclear power?
in Japanese

21 December 2016 (Japanese original published on 2 December 2016)
Eri Kanamori, Professor, Faculty of Business Administration, Ritsumeikan University

The government is developing a system to impose the costs for compensation, decontamination and decommissioning incurred by the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on not only nuclear power generators but also on PPS even after electricity system reform. The most feasible method to impose these costs is to add them to wheeling charges for transmission and distribution system operators. The working group for finance and accounting, which is closely related to the pricing system, has been established, and five meetings have been held so far.

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A Comparative Analysis of the Government's Estimate of "The Outflow of National Wealth due to the Shutdown of Nuclear Power Plants" (2016)
A reduction in fuel costs even with the shutdown of nuclear power plants
in Japanese

16 December 2016 Tatsuya Wakeyama, Senior Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute

In Japan, almost all nuclear power plants have been shut down since the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011. At present, only two reactors are working -- Sendai Nuclear Power Station Unit 2 (PWR, 890MW, Kyushu Electric Power Co.) and Ikata Nuclear Power Station Unit 3 (PWR, 890MW, Shikoku Electric Power Co.). In 2010, nuclear power plants accounted for around 30% of Japan's total electricity generation, but they now produce 1 - 2%.

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Series: Considering the True Acceleration of Electricity System Reform
Vol.3: Is a capacity mechanism needed in Japan today?
Summary of the discussions on capacity mechanism and their points at issue
in Japanese

14 December 2016 Keiji Kimura, Senior Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute

The Electricity Market Development Working Group (hereinafter referred to as “WG”) is currently discussing the implementation of a capacity mechanism, already debating over the system design.

However, the basic concept, including what is meant by “capacity mechanism” or why it is needed, has not been widely informed to the public. This paper first discusses whether a capacity mechanism should be implemented at this stage considering Japan’s current situation. It further discusses the major challenges concerning the implementation of a centralized capacity market, which is currently being discussed, as well as issues expected at the time of such implementation.

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Series: Considering the True Acceleration of Electricity System Reform
Vol.2: The maintenance of the decommissioning accounting system and “measures to spread the burden widely”
―Problems with the discussions in the Finance and Accounting Working Group
in Japanese

7 December 2016 Mika Kudo, Senior Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute

Calculations related to electric power are particular and complex. Firstly, unlike ordinary companies, the electric utility industry is subject to the “Ordinance on Accounting at Electric Utilities.” Even within this category, nuclear power plants are distinguished from electricity-generating facilities in general, and special accounting systems have been created in several stages from 1969 onwards ⅰ . Specifically, there are systems dealing with the reserve for preparation of the depreciation of nuclear power construction, related to the initial investment in such plants; and with the reserve for reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, reserve for decommissioning nuclear power units, and disposal costs of designated radioactive wastes, which are related to the costs of decommissioning nuclear power plants. These special accounting systems have become complex as the result of repeated amendments, so that it is very difficult to understand or tell from the accounts how nuclear power operations are going.

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Series: Considering the True Acceleration of Electricity System Reform
Vol.1: Launch of a series of columns to study the current discussions on electricity system reform
in Japanese

29 November 2016 Mika Obayashi, Director, Renewable Energy Institute

Since the accident at TEPCO’s nuclear power plant in Fukushima, a series of measures for electricity system reform has been or will be implemented in Japan, such as the establishment of the Organization for Cross-regional Coordination of Transmission Operators, OCCTO, and the Electricity and Gas Market Surveillance Commission in 2015, the implementation of full retail liberalization in April 2016, and legal unbundling of power generation and transmission/distribution planned for April 2020 (TEPCO already unbundled them in April 2016). The Feed-in Tariff system implemented in 2012 to promote renewable energy deployment is also one of the measures designed to change the shape of the electricity market.

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Over 20% Renewable Energy Share Achieved on a Monthly Basis in May 2016 in Japanese

15 September 2016 Keiji Kimura, Senior Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute

In Japan, the proportion of electricity generated from renewable energy had long been around 10%, mostly hydropower. However, under the Feed-in Tariff system, renewable energy has been steadily increasing. In FY2015, the proportion of renewable energy generated and purchased reached 14%, excluding waste-to-energy and pumped-storage hydropower.

Furthermore, on a monthly basis, the proportion of renewable energy finally exceeded 20%, reaching approximately 21% in May 2016 (refer to Figure 1). In other words, although the results are of a single month, we are steadily approaching the 22-24% renewables share target for 2030 set by the Japanese government’s Long-term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook (2015).

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Do not neglect global progress: It is enjoyable! in Japanese

14 June 2016 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Renewable Energy Institute
Romain Zissler, Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute

While Japan energy industry seems to debate whether to import uranium or coal to produce electricity, other parts of the world enjoy other solutions. This has been made visible by data published in recent months.

When data for the United States electricity generation in 2015 was made public the comparison with 2010 showed remarkable progress: Fossil fuel based electricity had decreased by more than 150 TWh. Nuclear had also decreased by 10 TWh. The growth sector was renewable electricity that had increased by about 135 TWh in 2015 compared to 2010.

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Faith, Hope and the Energy Revolution in Japanese

3 March 2016 Steve Sawyer, Secretary General, Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC)
(First published on Huffpost Green on 10 February 2016)

Fighting for a renewables revolution to save the climate has, for the past 30 years, been a question of faith in the ultimate self-interest of humankind, and hope that we would develop the means for our deliverance. The last time I felt this hopeful was in the autumn of 2004 when we raised (many) glasses of vodka to toast the Russian Duma when it passed the legislation for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, meaning that the treaty would enter into force. Those hopes ultimately proved unfounded, but now, in the wake of the Paris agreement, we have some new numbers from the renewables industry which shows that we have the technology. Now, do we have the will to do it?

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Big year for wind power in Germany in Japanese

26 February 2016 Craig Morris, Editor of Renewables International
and lead author of

Solar fell below the minimum target for the year, and Germany is no longer pursuing much bioenergy. But wind power boomed in three ways: onshore, offshore, and overall power production thanks to a windy year.

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In 2015, the renewable energy revolution started in Japanese

21 January 2016 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Renewable energy deployment as well as electricity production set a long series of national and global records in 2015. Global installed wind power passed nuclear capacity and the wind capacity is now well above 400 GW. Wind and solar together increased more than one hundred GW, likely both grew by a bit more than 50 GW.

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Let’s Take the Path toward 100% Renewables
-The Surest Choice to Avoid the Climate Change Crisis-
in Japanese

5 January 2016 Teruyuki Ohno, Executive Director, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

The “Paris Agreement”-the new international framework to address climate change adopted at COP21 at the end of 2015-determined in the form of an international agreement that the world should enter into a “fossil fuel-free” era by the latter half of this century. We cannot continue burning fossil fuels that emit CO2, if we are to avoid the climate change crisis.

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Auctions in Germany – how are they working? in Japanese

17 December 2015 Craig Morris, Editor of Renewables International
and lead author of

Around the world, auctions have been touted as a way of bringing down the cost of renewable electricity. In his brief overview, Craig Morris points out why that is – and what else we lose in the process.

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Is the Shutdown of Nuclear Reactors Really Costing 3.6 Trillion Yen? A Comparative Analysis of the Government’s Fuel Cost Estimate (2015)
The Government’s Estimate Ignores Effects of Energy Savings and Renewable Energy on Reducing Fuel Cost.
in Japanese

27 November 2015 Tatsuya Wakeyama, Senior Researcher,
Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF)

The government’s estimation of “additional fuel cost attributable to the shutdown of nuclear reactors,” a figure used by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) for its various committees, shows a growing gap with the reality.

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A warning to Japanese investors in Japanese

5 November 2015 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

During the 20th century, the lowest cost electric power system was relying on uranium and fossil fuels. The larger the power plants, the lower the cost per kWh produced.

There were different roles for different fuels: Coal and uranium fuels were cheaper than gas or oil, but, on the other hand, the power plants using uranium and coal are more expensive than the oil- and gas-plants. As a result, the expensive plants were built to be operating as much as technically possible, while the less costly oil- and gas-plants were built to operate only when demand was as high enough to justify burning more expensive fuels.

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The right conclusions from the VW scandal in Japanese

22 October 2015 Craig Morris, Editor of Renewables International
and lead author of

Within Germany, Volkswagen’s cheating on emissions is largely being discussed in terms of its impact on the overall economy. Politicians fear – justifiably – not only that German car sales might plummet, but that the German brand could suffer in general internationally. In reality, the event not only shows how not to do business, but also suggests what should be done.

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Solar: a driver for the transformation of the power sector

24 September 2015 Alexandre Roesch, Head of Regulatory Affairs, SolarPower Europe

When looking at solar PV, observers usually highlight the massive technology cost decrease achieved over the past years. This evolution is firstly founded on the forward-looking demand-push policies started in Europe in the late 90’s, which led to an impressive market deployment - we have jumped from 129 MW of connected capacity in 2000 to almost 90,000 MW fifteen years later.

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Is ‘20-22% Nuclear’ A Feasible Commitment? in Japanese

10 September 2015 Hiroshi Takahashi, Professor at Tsuru University
Senior Research Fellow at Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

The debate over the proposed “Energy Mix (Electricity Mix)” within the Japanese government has come to an end. On July 16, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) finally decided the 2030 target of the nation’s nuclear dependence as 20-22% of the total power generation. This column will discuss how feasible such a target is, and in what kind of situation it would put Japan’s economy.

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Japan’s Energy Saving is not like “wringing out a dry washcloth”
- Putting an end to the lost 20 years -

First Published:Kankyo Business Online (11 May 2015) in Japanese

10 September 2015 Teruyuki Ohno, Executive Director, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

My previous column examined the “Energy Mix (Electricity Mix)” proposal by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), including its significant passivity towards the introduction of renewable energy and the great emphasis on coal fired power generation which is unusual internationally. Alongside this, another major issue is the passivity also towards energy saving.

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Does renewable energy require a lot of land?
It depends on how clever you are!
in Japanese

3 September 2015 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Solar power can be generated by PV panels mounted on the ground. In Japan or Germany the electricity produced will then be in the order of 0.1 MWh per year and m2. To produce the almost 1000 TWh/year of electricity Japan use you would need 2-3 % of all land in Japan.

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New renewable electricity records in Germany in Japanese

13 August 2015 Craig Morris, Editor of Renewables International
and lead author of

In July, the share of renewables reached 78 percent of demand for a few hours – higher than ever before. Likewise, more solar power was probably produced than nuclear power last month. In light of the skepticism about renewable energy until recently, both records are worth celebrating – though they are otherwise only symbolic. Germany still has its work cut out for it.

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Renewables Lead the Way in Japanese

6 August 2015 REN21 Secretariat

REN21’s newly released Renewables 2015 Global Status Report notes that renewable energy’s record year led to the uncoupling of the global economy’s growth from CO2 emissions. Renewables contributed to the decoupling with an estimated 59% of net additions to global power capacity and represented far higher shares of capacity added in several countries around the world.

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Grid Parity – Solar PV Has Caught Up with Japan’s Grid Electricity in Japanese

6 August 2015 Keiji Kimura, Senior Researcher, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

There is a claim that solar PV is high in cost. For example, the cost of electricity from residential solar PVs was estimated at 29.4 yen/kWh by a government committee (Power Generation Cost Verification Working Group under the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy) in May 2015. Unit cost of power generation was assessed to be at least twice as high for solar PV compared to that for LNG thermal power, the major energy source in Japan, which is 13.7 yen/kWh.

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In support of the future generations in Japanese

9 July 2015 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

A baby born in Japan today may come to dislike the present government of Japan for two reasons:

Instead of having the current generation taxpayers finance government expenses, the government borrows almost half the money it spends, leaving it to the following generations to pay.

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World‘s most efficient gas turbine to close in Germany - why? in Japanese

25 June 2015 Craig Morris, Editor of Renewables International
and lead author of

It has been a hot item in the press: power provider Eon plans to close a combined-cycle gas turbine made by Siemens. The story is being sold as yet another failure of Germany’s energy transition. But what is good for Siemens is not necessarily good for the Energiewende – or the planet.

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Better Information for decision makers in Japanese

18 June 2015 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Electric Power Companies in Japan control the grid and the information about how the electricity system works. By controlling the information they can manipulate decision makers, against the interest of Japan and the customers – in favor only of themselves.

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4 June 2015 Nana Hori and Michael Rogol, CEO, PHOTON Consulting

Japan’s solar power feed-in tariff (FIT) has been wildly successful at driving adoption of solar power. The introduction of the FIT drove spending on new solar power systems from 0.6 trillion yen ($7bn) for 1GW of new installations in calendar year 2011 to 2.6 trillion yen ($25bn) for 8GW in 2014.

Beyond this wave of installations that have taken place since the FIT policy was instituted, there is also a massive volume of solar power systems that have been approved but not yet installed. As of 1/1/2015, there are 76GW of approved solar power systems in Japan of which only 21GW is already installed.

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Japan’s industry can deliver power for the future in Japanese

28 May 2015 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

I have more confidence in Japanese manufacturing industry than METI has.

METI’s information to the Japanese Government before the decision on the long term energy mix contains much that appears contradicting facts, some that are hard to believe, or other statements that are very pessimistic regarding the abilities of Japanese industry.

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High integration and cost reduction of RES are accelerated - leaving Japan behind in Japanese

28 May 2015 Mika Obayashi, Director, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

    On April 28, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) presented a draft plan on Japan’s electricity mix for 2030. According to the draft plan, in 2030, 27% of the energy will be supplied by LNG, 26% by coal, 3% by oil, 22-24% by renewables, and 20-22% by nuclear power. The breakdown of renewables is 8.8-9.1% hydropower, 7% solar, 3.7-4.6% bioenergy, 1.7% wind and 1-1.1% geothermal.

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Tokyo 2020 – It’s about energy stupid! in Japanese

15 May 2015 Shaun McCarthy OBE, Director, Action Sustainability,
Former Chair, Commission for a Sustainable London 2012

What did the solar eclipse prove in Germany?

3 April 2015 Craig Morris, Editor of Renewables International
and lead author of

On Friday, March 20, a partial solar eclipse passed over Germany on a largely cloudless day. With the moon covering the sun by more than 70 percent in most areas, German solar ramped down and then up again to an unprecedented extent. Many have celebrated the event as proof that Germany can withstand even greater fluctuations in solar power production. But there is also a reason to believe the event was overhyped.

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Why is Japan letting China win the renewables race? in Japanese

20 March 2015 John A. Mathews, Professor, MGSM, Macquarie University

The debate over energy reform in Japan has been focused on the linked issues of managing the future trajectories of nuclear and fossil fuels and changing the structure of the power generation market. The recent case of a joint venture between Tepco and Chubu Electric Power over LNG supplies is a classic case in point. This emphasis means that energy security is viewed as a matter of diversifying sources of fuel supply and consolidating Japan’s purchases, where fuels are interpreted to mean nuclear or fossil fuels. Renewables have been viewed as an additional but marginal energy source, and one that has merit as a factor in climate change mitigation, but not in making much impact on overall energy security.

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Year 2014 demonstrated energy solutions in Japanese

26 February 2015 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation
Keiji Kimura, Senior Researcher, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

The year 2014 was the first calendar year in 50 years that Japan had no nuclear power in operation. Electricity production from solar energy increased significantly. As a result, it proved possible to decrease the use of fossil fuels in Japan in 2014. The drop in oil use for electricity more than compensated increased use of LNG.

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Overview of renewables in Germany in 2014 in Japanese

24 February 2015 Craig Morris, Editor of Renewables International
and lead author of

Last year was a record for both wind power and biogas in Germany – positively for the former and negatively for the latter. The PV market also shrank considerably but remains huge in an international comparison relative to grid size.

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Vattenfall makes unexpected, clear statement in Japanese

19 February 2015 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

After two decades of resistance, the European Electric Power Companies are in a process of rapid progress. In the early 1990s, German Electric Power Companies claimed more than 4% renewable electricity could not work, claiming grid stability issues. Since grid ownership was separated from ownership of power plants no such claims are present. Grid companies, lika Danish Energinet or German 50-Hertz, have proven that 40 % wind- and solar-power can be managed.

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Avoid costs “Made in Japan” in order to vitalize the Japanese Economy in Japanese

16 January 2015 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

The government of Japan is planning to again investigate what the cost of different sources of electricity are. They have another responsibility which is more important. That is to remove the special costs to renewable energy that are home made in Japan. Costs that are often the result of bad regulation. Bad regulation decided by the government and diet of Japan.

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The German Energiewende under lobby pressure in Japanese

25 December 2014 Jan Burck, Germanwatch

Germany currently faces a political challenge towards the transformation of its energy system, known as "Energiewende." Many people associate the "Energiewende" in Germany with the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima 2011. However, the starting point for the German "Energiewende" is rooted in the increasing environmental awareness and the anti-nuclear movement of the 70s. In the 70s, the term "Energiewende" had already been coined and was used by nuclear opponents, who searched for alternative forms of energy supply (

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German households have made Japan into an energy resource rich country! in Japanese

18 December 2014 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

It is often repeated, and believed to be true, that Japan is a resource poor country. During the last hundred years the world has utilized coal, oil, uranium and gas for the energy as they have been the lowest cost sources available. Japan has held no significant resources of any of these non-renewable sources of energy. Instead Japan has been totally dependent on importing fuels to generate electricity, drive vehicles and heat houses.

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The growing absurdities of reports on German energy policy in Japanese

11 December 2014 Craig Morris, Editor of Renewables International
and lead author of

Last month, the Financial Times painted a grim picture of Germany’s energy transition*. But the depiction was even more misleading than bleak.

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Solar rooftop PV may outcompete Japan's grid electricity in 2015 in Japanese

4 December 2014 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation
Keiji Kimura, Senior Researcher, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Renewable electricity in Japan has evolved slowly despite generous feed-in tariffs. Monopolized electricity markets and tedious planning processes have blocked wind, geothermal and biomass projects over the last year.

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Japan Deserves Also to Benefit from the « Silent Wind Power Revolution »

6 November 2014 Bernard Chabot, International Consultant and Trainer on Renewable and
Sustainable Energy BCCONSULT, France

There is an ongoing « Silent Wind Power Revolution » [1], consisting in the commercial availability of new models of wind turbines delivering high to very high capacity factors including on light wind speeds areas and comparing well with the potential offshore wind capacity factors. Many advantages result from the use of those new models:

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Grid Access Requests Denial - Transparency and Neutrality are Essential in Grid Operation
The column was originally written in Japanese on 24 September 2014.

7 October 2014 Mika Ohbayashi, Director, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

On September 24, Kyushu Electric Power Co. Ltd. announced they would suspend any negotiations for purchase of all types of renewable energy other than residential solar PVs, which is less than 10kW, in their all business area, withholding responses to any grid access requests. The utility says the measure has been adopted to put negotiations on hold for several months and make a review during the period. With the rapid growth of variable power sources under the current Feed-in Tariff systems, mainly Solar PVs, the power company would have difficulty in balancing supply and demand in their business area, which might hinder stability in their electricity supply.

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A stronger and richer Japan is possible in Japanese

18 September 2014 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

In September 2014, Japan has experienced 12 months without any nuclear power for the first time since 1966. Japan got most nuclear electricity in 1998, since then nuclear power has failed to meet the expectations of growth, but struggled with technical and economic problems. However, it was the engineering and management failure resulting in the Fukushima catastrophe after the March 2011 earthquake that caused in the collapse of Japan’s nuclear electricity production.

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Energy policy for the economy of Japan, instead of one protecting the old Electric Power Companies in Japanese

11 September 2014 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Global markets for solar and wind power technologies are both expected to grow by about one third this year ⅰ . There are very few industries that enjoy that growth rate.

In Europe and the US, wind power now appears as the cheapest source of new power. In Portugal wind is said to produce electricity at a cost of less than 9.5 JPY/kWh, while nuclear, coal and gas all cost between 12 and 13.5 JPY/kWh ⅱ . The Danish Government Energy Agency this summer reported that wind power cost only about half of what coal or gas fired power does. ⅲ 

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Great Achievements of Feed-in Tariff and Challenges for Japan’s Renewable Energy Policy in Japanese

5 September 2014 Mika Ohbayashi, Director, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Two years have passed since Japan introduced a Feed-in Tariff (FiT) system in July 2012. In this summer, the government set up a sub-committee on new energy to start discussing the renewable energy target and the current status of the FiT. There are, however, some problems. One of the defects is the membership of the sub-committee, which does not include experts familiar with renewable energy policy. Another problem is the misleading of direction of discussion. The unknown issue such as “total volume control of renewables,” which has not been mentioned at the sub-committee, has repeatedly appeared in the media and has been referred to by the chairperson of the sub-committee. This is generating a false impression that a decision has been made that the FiT should be totally revised. What we need to do now is improve Japan’s FiT system for further deployment of renewables, by recognizing what we have achieved over the last two years.

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How Opposite Energy Policies Turned The Fukushima Disaster Into A Loss For Japan And A Win For Germany
Originally published by Rocky Mountain Institute
in Japanese

4 September 2014 Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute
Executive Board Member, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Japan thinks of itself as famously poor in energy, but this national identity rests on a semantic confusion. Japan is indeed poor in fossil fuels—but among all major industrial countries, it’s the richest in renewable energy like sun, wind, and geothermal. For example, Japan has nine times Germany’s renewable energy resources. Yet Japan makes about nine times less of its electricity from renewables (excluding hydropower) than Germany does.

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Let’s Celebrate, Not Lament, Renewables’ Disruption of Electric Utilities
Originally published by Rocky Mountain Institute in Japanese

25 July 2014 Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute
Executive Board Member, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Renewables are making headway in Europe and bringing a low-carbon electricity system to the forefront. Renewables were 69 percent of new capacity added in 2012 in Europe and 49 percent in the United States. Not surprisingly, this threatens utilities unwilling to let go of outmoded business models and fossil-fuel generation.

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Germany’s Energiewende under pressure – not because it’s not working but because it’s too successful! in Japanese

11 July 2014 Stefan Schurig, Director Climate Energy, World Future Council

It has been a crucial moment for the German Energiewende. On Friday June 27th the Bundestag, Germany’s national Parliament decided over a draft reform of the EEG (Germanys renewable energy act) by Energiewende Minister Sigmar Gabriel. The so called EEG-Novelle includes a variety of amendments which all serve only one goal: To slow down the pace of transformation of the energy market towards renewable energy. Not because of any technical problems or insurmountable challenges for the grid. It’s because Minister Gabriel seems to take the interests of the coal and nuclear energy companies more seriously than the public’s interest.

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Feed-in Tariff Scheme: Market Forces and the Appropriate Operation of the Scheme in Japanese

11 July 2014 Keiji Kimura, Senior Researcher, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

By the end of June 2014, it would have been two years since the feed-in tariff scheme was introduced in Japan. Though it has been only two years, an enormous momentum has actually been felt. The scheme became operational in July 2012 and facilities with a total capacity of 68.69 GW were approved and 8.95 GW of renewable energy sources became operational in only 21 months (by end-March 2014). The speed and scale of this deployment is clear, as the total installed capacity of renewable energy, excluding hydropower, which had been constructed by fiscal 2011, was approximately 10.7 GW.

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Revision of the Electric Utility Industry Law (2): Competition for Better Services as a Key to Full Liberalization of the Retail Market in Japanese

19 June 2014 Hiroshi Takahashi, Research Fellow, Fujitsu Research Institute

The Electric Utility Industry Law was revised on June 11, 2014. It is the second stage of the electricity system reform which started last year, and aims to realize a full liberalization of the electricity retail market. The revision has drawn significant attention from various newcomers, who expect that it will lead to the opening of the seven trillion yen market, which has been dominated by major utilities, to small users. However, we need to be skeptical about the idea that this revision will lead to competition easily.

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Important for Children in Japanese

15 May 2014 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

The costs of nuclear waste are one of the most important aspects of the competitiveness of nuclear power. Experience shows that it is easy to underestimate the costs as they occur long after nuclear power plants are started. Some decades ago, such underestimates of costs may have been the result of incompetence. With the experience gathered in the world, it is more difficult to pretend not to know real costs. In countries with long experience of nuclear power, waste management has started for real, and costs are becoming visible and undeniable.

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The success of woody biomass in Austria and its application to Japan in Japanese

8 May 2014 Heinz Kopetz, President, World Bioenergy Association

Austria has a population of 8.2 million people living in 3.5 million households. The country has size of 84,000km², almost 50% of the land is covered with forests.

The activities to develop woody biomass started in 1978. In this year the population decided in a referendum not to use nuclear energy in Austria. This decision was the start for a policy in favour of renewable energies.

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Revision of the Electric Utility Industry Law: What is Wide-Area System Operation? in Japanese

1 May 2014 Hiroshi Takahashi, Research Fellow, Fujitsu Research Institute

Under the Abe Cabinet, the electricity system reform is being implemented in three stages. The first stage is the revision of the Electric Utility Industry Law in November last year, and the establishment of the Organization for Cross-regional Coordination of Transmission Operators (OCCTO) is planned for next year. While the author believes that this is an extremely important organization, the term “cross-regional coordination of transmission operators,” or more generally “wide-area system operation” is not a familiar term in Japan, and there seems to be little progress in understanding what would happen under such an operation to begin with.

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The 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Sustainability in Japanese

24 April 2014 Teruyuki Ohno, Executive Director, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Since the 1994 International Olympic Committee (IOC) declaration at the Centennial Olympic Congress in Paris to make the environment, the third pillar of the Olympic spirit, in addition to the existing pillars of sport and culture, the relationship between the Olympic Games and the environment has been clearly recognized. In line with this environment-conscious stance by the IOC, the 2000 Sydney Olympics introduced the idea of the “Green Games.” However, it was the 2012 London Olympics that upheld the principle of a sustainable Olympics as a main concept right from the bidding stage.

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The global energy transformation requires new business models!
Big energy utilities should stop trying to ignore the zeitgeist of modern decentralised energy production
in Japanese

18 April 2014 Stefan Schurig, Director Climate Energy, World Future Council

The global transition towards renewable energy can be mapped out in three phases. Phase one is to invent and develop the technology up to a marketable level. Phase two is to make it cheap, or at least cheaper than conventional energy systems. Phase three is to modernise step-by-step the existing energy infrastructure on the basis of a decentralised energy production and a smart distribution system. This means crowding out the use of fossil resources and nuclear power plants through an inclusive renewable energy economy.

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Community power Samsø in Japanese

11 April 2014 Søren Hermansen, Director, Samsø Energy Academy

Samsø today is a society of farmers and a small community with all the functions of any place where people are living together. The difference is that the activity today is fuelled by renewable energy. The wind turbines are producing more than the island consumes. Biomass and solar supplies the heating demand. It has released a lot of resources because of less imported fossil fuels at high costs. The revenue is invested in better infra structure and smart energy systems and in general improvements of houses with better insulation and windows.

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Misconceptions and Myths Surrounding Base Load Power

4 April 2014 Yoh Yasuda, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Kansai University

Tomas Kåberger addressed the issue of base load power in his February 28th column. However, without a background understanding including how the term or concept is being used across the world in the 21st century, many Japanese may find Kåberger's column perplexing and have difficulty understanding its message. That's why in this column I would like to introduce our Japanese readership to how "base load power" is being discussed overseas.

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German Feed-in Tariffs - Neither Contribute to Technological Innovations nor the Fight Against Climate Change?
Policy Criticism Without Scientific Perspective

4 April 2014 Mika Ohbayashi, Director, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Germany’s renewable energy policy, which is purported to be the most successful renewable energy policy in the world, increased the share of renewable energy consumption from 6% to 25% in just over a decade from 2000 to 2013 ⅰ . While it is achieved through rational policy mixes which have been initiated one after another since the 1990s, what produced the biggest effect should be the feed-in tariff scheme (the “EEG” in German). It is a method to guarantee access to the grid and power generation of renewables and to purchase electricity at a predetermined price in order to assure the stability of the business or to give an incentive for power generation not through old-fashioned blanket subsidies for installation. Feed-in tariffs or similar policies have now been introduced in nearly 100 countries and regions worldwide. Such policies brought about significant results in Japan since July 2012, increasing the cumulative amount of photovoltaic power generation by 2.2 times in 17 months from the introduction of such policies in the country.

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Three Truths the Government Won’t Tell You about the Strategic Energy Plan of Japan

20 March 2014 Teruyuki Ohno, Executive Director, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Last week Japan Renewable Energy Foundation made public our view of the government’s draft Strategic Energy Plan (“Basic Energy Plan”) of Japan. We noted that in the government draft, both nuclear energy and coal-fired thermal power are positioned as “important base-load energy sources,” despite the experience of the catastrophic Fukushima nuclear power plant accident and the fact that the reality of the climate change crisis is made increasingly clear in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. The government draft is full of references to the importance of nuclear and coal-fired power.

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FiT has lit up Japan's solar landscape
(published by RECHARGE, on February 3, 2014)

19 March 2014 Mika Ohbayashi, Director, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Japan is an excellent advertisement for the advantages of feed-in tariffs (FiTs). In the first 16 months, the country added 5.85GW of renewables.

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Summary of original speech
Latest developments in Germany's - ongoing - Energiewende

14 March 2014 Stefanie Pfahl, Head of Wind Energy and Hydro Power Division
Federal Ministry for the Environment
Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear

In Germany, The first Renewable Energy Sources Act (RESA) was adopted in 2000. At that time the share of renewables in electricity production was almost non-existent.

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The need for a market access system for renewable energy

7 March 2014 Mika Ohbayashi, Director, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Japan’s Feed-in tariff system will soon mark its third year, with a new price setting introduced from April. Since the introduction of the system, there has been great growth in solar power generation in Japan. According to currently available data up to November 2013, Japan’s power generation through renewables excluding large-scale hydropower exceeded 27 GW. Solar power generation greatly increased, from 5.6 GW before the introduction of the feed-in tariff, to 6.26 GW 16 months later.

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Renewable energy - hope for Fukushima communities

7 March 2014 Stefan Gsänger, Secretary General, World Wind Energy Association

In spite of the beauty of its landscape and the gentleness of its citizens, the name of city and prefecture Fukushima has become synonymous with nuclear disaster. The way to change this into the opposite should be based on the wise decision taken by Fukushima prefecture to get all its energy from renewable sources – Fukushima could become world famous for its progress in renewable energy!

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Illusionary base-load argument is fading

28 February 2014 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Renewable energy cost less than fossil fuels and nuclear power. Wind, and recently even solar, power plants can be built with lower investments than new nuclear power plants. Once build solar and wind power provide electricity without any fuel costs.

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21 February 2014 Michael Rogol, CEO, PHOTON Consulting

From the top looking down, Japan's solar power sector looks healthy. The annual revenue pool of new solar power system installations in Japan increased from $1bn/year in calendar year 2008 to $6bn in 2010 and $10bn in 2012. The sector again grew significantly in 2013, reaching revenue of $25bn, and is on a path to achieve $28bn in 2014. This equates to impressive average spending in 2014 of ~$220/person across Japan's population, up from only ~$12/person in 2008. This may be the largest category of new spending in the entire Japanese economy.


Japan's Renewable Energy Future

14 February 2014 Eric Martinot, Senior Policy Advisor, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

I’ve been working in the renewable energy field for the past 25 years, and living in Japan for the past 5 years. That combined experience tells me one thing: Japan can easily lead the world in renewable energy. What is most needed is a change in thinking, a change in mentality. The Japanese people must understand that renewable energy can do everything that nuclear power can do--with the same functionality, the same reliability, and the same support for Japan's economy.

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Energy Policy, for Ordinary People, by Ordinary People

7 February 2014 Takejiro Sueyoshi, Executive Board Vice Chair, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

The Earth is heading for a crisis. Of course, the earth is a nonliving thing, so this does not mean that it will collapse. Rather, this crisis is that the Earth may cease to function as a life-supporting system. A range of problems are responsible for this, including global warming, destruction of biodiversity, and the depletion of natural resources. As well as this, the global society is also facing the daunting challenges of extreme poverty, widening income inequalities, abuse of human rights and the spread of infectious diseases.

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Wind is built fast and at low cost elsewhere – Why do Japan's power companies prefer expensive imported fuels?

31 January 2014 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Wind power is now the cheapest source of electricity in most countries in the world. Not even new coal fired power stations can compete despite world market coal prices being modest after Chinese and American demand failed to meet expectations.

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The Tokyo Gubernatorial Election and Nuclear Power

31 January 2014 Teruyuki Ohno,Executive Director, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

An argument exists that the issue of nuclear power is not a relevant major issue for the upcoming Tokyo gubernatorial election. Tokyo faces many challenges, such as an aging infrastructure, disaster prevention and mitigation, waiting lists for nursery schools, and senior citizens living alone. Therefore, the argument goes, this election should not be dominated by a single issue.

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How opposite energy policies turned 3/11 into a loss for Japan and a win for Germany

24 January 2014 Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute
Executive Board Member, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Japan is poor in fossil fuels—but among major industrial countries, the richest in renewable energy like sun, wind, and geothermal. Japan has nine times Germany’s renewable energy resources, but makes nine times less of its electricity from them (excluding hydropower), because Japan’s utility oligopolies block competitors.

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Challenging Energy Policy from the Local

17 January 2014 Teruyuki Ohno, Executive Director, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

According to reports, the cabinet approval of the Basic Energy Plan – originally scheduled for completion in January – has been postponed by the Japanese government. This is because of criticism of the draft Plan, particularly its positioning of nuclear power as an "important base-load power source that will form the basis”.

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Smart alternatives for Japan

17 January 2014 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

Japan depends on imported, expensive nuclear- and fossil fuels causing environmental degradation. Many pretend the only options are expensive fuels: gas, oil, uranium or coal. The only choice being how to ruin the life of future generations. Do it by a) radioactive pollution, or b) rapid climate change.

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