Japans Energy Supply to Slide as Efficiency Rises

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Japans volume of primary energy supply – oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and renewable electricity – is projected to decline by 0.4 percent in fiscal year 2020 due in part to continued energy efficiency improvements, according to a recent report from Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics.

One factor in the projected slide to 452.4 million metric tons of oil equivalent is Japans Feed- Tariff policy for renewable energy – known as Fit – which was enacted at the beginning of July 2012 to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy. Under the system, electric utilities and merchants purchase renewable-generated electricity at prices and contract durations set by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. End-users pay a surcharge to help cover the renewable portion of the total power supply.

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The countrys renewable electricity supply is projected to grow 6.3 percent to 203.3 terrawatt hours this fiscal year. Of this, the institute estimates, 147.2 TWh will be attributable to Fit generation. Renewable energy-based power generation in FY2020 will total 152.3 TWh, the institute estimates – the majority consisting of 76.2 TWh for solar photovoltaics, 39.6 TWh for small and medium-sized hydroelectric plants and 30.2 TWh for biomass.

The trend away from fossil fuels towards non-fossil fuel will continue, but while production from renewables will increase before the deadline of the penalty set for the FiT, nuclear will increase at a much slower pace due to delays in the completion of counterterrorism facilities, the institute said in a Dec. 23 news release. In early 2019, three utilities that operate five nuclear plants in western and southwestern Japan requested extensions on their deadlines because they expected delays in completing counterterrorism steps required under stricter regulations introduced in 2013 following the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Reasons cited included the need to perform large-scale construction work.

Nuclear power is expected to account for about 63.5 terawatt hours this fiscal year, up 4.2 percent.

Declines are expected this fiscal year in oil and in natural gas used for power generation, down by 2.4 percent each.

Meanwhile, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in Japan are expected to decrease by 0.5 percent to 1,048 million metric tons. This is lower than 1,050Mt for the first time in Japan, according to statistics kept after fiscal year 1990. This corresponds to a reduction of 15.1 percent in CO2 emissions since fiscal year 2013, which means the country is expected to be two-thirds of the way towards the reduction target of energy-related CO2 emissions set for fiscal year 2030.

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