Energy Blue Print
Japan 2012

Moving from principles to action for energy supply that mitigates against climate change requires a long-term perspective. Energy infrastructure takes time to build up; new energy technologies take time to develop. Policy shifts often also need many years to take effect. In most world regions the transformation from fossil to renewable energies will require additional investment and higher supply costs over about twenty years

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implementing the energy [r]evolution in japan

3.1 international energy policy

At present, renewable energy generators have to compete with old nuclear and fossil fuel power stations which produce electricity at marginal cost because consumers and taxpayers have already paid the interest and depreciation on the original investment. Political action is needed to overcome these distortions and create a level playing field for renewable energy technologies to compete.

At a time when governments around the world are in the process of liberalising their electricity markets, the increasing competitiveness of renewable energy should lead to higher demand. Without political support, however, renewable energy remains at a disadvantage, marginalised by distortions in the world’s electricity markets created by decades of massive financial, political and structural support to conventional technologies. Developing renewables will therefore require strong political and economic efforts, especially through laws that guarantee stable tariffs over a period of up to 20 years. Renewable energy will also contribute to sustainable economic growth, high quality jobs, technology development, global competitiveness, as well as industrial and research leadership.

3.2 japan’s energy policy brief

3.2.1 japan: overall policy on renewable energy

1. Establish Long-term, high numerical targets and political commitment.

  • Set legally binding target (at least 20% by 2020) for the final energy use, as well as specific sectorial renewable targets for electricity, heating and transport.

2. Phasing out fossil fuel and nuclear to internalize external costs.

  • Under a national consensus, establish a framework to share costs and/or burdens in a fair manner by reforming taxation in a way that promotes further introduction of renewable energy.
  • Specifically, adopt an environmental tax (carbon tax) or energy consumption charge scheme.

3. Reduce the harmful obstacles of old customs, traditions and existing regulations in “energy markets”.

  • In attempt to introduce decentralized renewable energy, it is necessary to review a wide body of laws, which can create barriers through inconsistency and inflexibility; the nature parks law, the agriculture land law, building standard regulations, the waste and cleaning law, and others must be appraised with the necessary flexibility in mind.
  • Review a scheme of existing/vested rights, especially water rights, geo- (hot-spring) thermal access, fishery rights and others, which have a potential for instigated rivalries, through restoring and integrating them so as to establish fair and transparent procedures.

4. Implement a reasonable and effective power saving plan.

Much of the type of “enduring power saving” which makes people feel pressure and inconveniences. We should switch to reasonable power saving that does not deteriorate convenience as much.

  • To achieve this, it is important not only to expand mandatory emission reduction policy to all over Japan by applying the Green Building Program.
  • Disclosure system (including energy expenditure and CO2 emissions per unit floor) with respect to each business institution.
  • Local governments should provide consultation services for the household energy saving.

5. Create a stable market with transparency.

In order to reduce the risks to financial interests of the renewable energy business over long periods of time, it is vital to take the following, necessary measures:

  • Set long-term, stable monetary support for renewable energy businesses;
  • Harmonize the verification of CO2 emission reduction and the creation of a CO2 market;
  • Create a market which is demonstrably stable in the long term from an investor’s point of view;
  • Create a renewable energy market from which users may choose directly among various options;
  • Create initial demand through active introduction of renewable energy by central and local government and other public offices;
  • Place community development, new building construction, hotspring utilization under obligation to utilize renewable energy;
  • Establish a “public-private fund for the development phase” in order to share the risks that renewable energy businesses face.

6. Public and community participation scheme.

Generating the benefits of renewable energy for the local community.

  • In order to enable local residents to take an early role in the renewable energy development process, it is required to establish transparent land-use planning and environment assessment systems.
  • In light of the fact that the introduction of renewable energy brings rewards to a local community, there is a need to establish a local financial scheme in which locals can own part of the renewable business by themselves.
  • For increased participation by local governments, businesses and individuals in renewable energy, it is necessary to create an organization like a local energy office that is expected to form a partnership between community and renewable energy activities.

7. Review and reinforce existing policies.

The following measures have been implemented, but require further review and support:

  • National support for research and development;
  • Award ceremony for the best practice and system;
  • Expansion and implementation of education, enlightenment and publicity activities.