At G-7, Japan's energy plan is not all that green

At G-7, Japan's energy plan is not all that green
In this April 21, 2014 file photo, Liberian LNG, or Liquefied Natural Gas, tanker Al Hamra arrives at a port in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo. Japan may find itself the odd man out when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presents his government's blueprint for combating climate change at a summit of the world's leading industrialized democracies Sunday and Monday, June 7-8, 2015. The Group of Seven host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has indicated she supports a pledge of eventual zero carbon emissions. Japan favors the use of coal, gas and nuclear power over green energy despite rapid growth of investment in renewables since all its nuclear reactors were taken offline following the 2011 disaster in Fukushima. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)

Japan may find itself the odd man out when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presents his government's blueprint for combating climate change at this weekend's summit of the world's leading industrialized democracies.

The Group of Seven host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has indicated she supports a pledge of eventual zero carbon emissions. Japan favors coal, gas and over despite rapid growth of investment in renewables since all its nuclear reactors were taken offline following the 2011 disaster in Fukushima.

Curbing will be among many items on the agenda when G-7 leaders meet Sunday and Monday at Schloss Elmau, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Munich.

Japan is the world's No. 3 economy and its fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Abe plans to explain to fellow leaders its target of a 26 percent reduction from 2013 levels of by 2030.

That compares with an intended 26-28 percent cut by 2025 from 2005 levels for the U.S., and the European Union's target of a 40 percent reduction from 1990 levels, or 35 percent from 2005.

Japanese officials defend their plan as comparable to or even exceeding the goals set by other major economies.

"Some committee members said it was too ambitious and they said it could not be done, but it was decided to set this target," said Masakazu Toyoda, a adviser and chairman of the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan.

Solar and are too unstable and costly to provide more than marginal generation capacity, especially given the need to extend power grids from major cities like Tokyo to more remote areas considered most suitable for wind power, he says.

As for zero emissions, the world's carbon dioxide pollution level hit a record 396 parts per million in 2014, way above the 350 ppm level of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere seen by some scientists and environmental groups as a safe level.

In Toyoda's view, limiting emissions to 450 ppm by 2050, would be "very difficult to achieve."

"With additional effort to introduce advanced technology, the realistic target should be 550 ppm," he said in a briefing Thursday.

Japan's long-term energy plan is evolving and actual trends will depend on various factors, including nuclear plant restarts, the pace of decline in the population, changes in technology and expanded use of solar panels and other by households and businesses.

The country does face unique challenges, as an island nation with scant conventional energy resources. Unlike European countries, it cannot draw from and feed into regional electricity grids.

Abe's government is seeking restarts of reactors that meet upgraded safety standards, and in the meantime fossil fuels remain the preferred option for bridging energy supply gaps.

Japan could do far better, given the trend toward wider, ad-hoc adoption of renewable energy in the private sector, said Tomas Kaberger, chairman of the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation and a former head of Sweden's energy agency.

"It's just a matter of very costly delays to an industrial development that will be inevitable for global competition reasons. Japan cannot be the last fossil country in the world," he said.

During talks in Bonn, Germany, this week, the NGO Climate Action Network announced Japan as the winner of its "Fossil of the Day" award for "doing the most to block progress on climate action."

At a time when many countries, including China, are reducing reliance on cheap, plentiful but heavily polluting coal, Japan is viewing it with newfound enthusiasm.

Its current plan calls for coal to account for about 26 percent of total power generation in 2030; natural gas for 27 percent and oil for about 3 percent. Renewable energy would provide up to 24 percent of power and nuclear up to 22 percent, according to a document from the government's Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy.

That plan would raise Japan's total energy self-sufficiency rate to about 24 percent from the current 6 percent, it says.

More than 40 coal-fired power plants are planned or under construction in Japan. Abe's government is also promoting financing of such plants in its infrastructure development aid.

Critics contend the latest "energy mix" strategy is delaying an inevitable shift to , while creating a raft of potentially obsolete, or "stranded" assets.

"These guys are risking a whole lot of public finance on something that may be overtaken by the accelerating cheapening of renewables," said Andrew DeWit, a professor at Tokyo's Rikkyo University.

Japanese local governments increasingly are investing in smart-city technologies such as high-tech electricity meters, heat recycling and other clean and renewable energy options, encouraged by efforts to decentralize power production to help boost sagging local economies.

Generating capacity from renewable energy, including solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal power was rising at an average annual rate of about 9 percent before 2012, and then jumped 32 percent in 2013 with the introduction of higher feed-in tariffs, mostly due to a boom in installation of solar panels.

But In October, major power companies suspended access to their electricity grids for renewable energy, saying further increases would make them too unstable.

And moves to reduce higher feed-in tariffs for solar and , introduced after the Fukushima disaster, are deterring investors who need greater certainty over potential returns on projects, said Yasuyo Yamazaki, president of Kuni Umi Asset Management, a company that invests in solar and biomass energy projects.

Like many in Japan, he believes that reforms that eventually will separate from transmission will help.

"Japan should be able to rely entirely on renewable energy for all of its needs," he said. "But there is a certain pathway we have to get through to get to our goal."


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Jun 06, 2015
Japan is owned and operated by groups of organized crime. The big players are industrialists and the Yakuza, and they control everybody else.

Japan will only do what they want.

Abe, as a right-wing politician, thinks his statements make it fact, and THEY decide the reality of Japan. Physical reality is only an obstacle to drive through with blinders on.

Jun 06, 2015
At least, Japan is not completely in hand of the renewable mafia yet, that intend to cover large lands and offshore areas, most of wildlife's habits, with solar panels and 'bird killer' wind blades at cost of governmental subsidies.
"A primary school in Dorset has switched off its wind turbine after seabirds kept getting killed by the blades."
http://www.bbc.co...10518796
Unfortunately, the renewable mafia, through its powerful lobbyists, and with a lot of mass media scaremongering misinformation, is influencing people for decommissioning nuclear plants that have caused fewer fatalities (no one died from Fukushima radiation) and less environmental impact per terawatt-hour than renewables.

Jun 06, 2015
"Headteacher Stuart McLeod has had to come in early to clear up the bloody carcasses before his young pupils spot them."
"'We've tried so hard to be eco-friendly but..."
"The turbine was bought with grants from the government..."
http://metro.co.u...-434336/
http://www.forbes...-murder/

"Advocacy group: Wind turbine rules needed to protect birds"
http://phys.org/n...rds.html

Jun 07, 2015
They want MORE nukes? Sounds like the decision of a politician owned by Big Money.

What did they learn from Fukushima, Monju, and the other disastrous wastes of money aside from the dangers of this technology in the hands of greedy capitalist fools??

Jun 07, 2015
Wind turbines use rare-earth ores that contain traces of earthbound uranium (4.270 MeV) and thorium (4.081 MeV), emitting radioactive particles to the environment.

Eng. George Kamburoff wrote:
"...an alpha emitter, and if inhaled can bombard sensitive lung tissue with 5.4 MeV particles, causing cancer."
"... you cannot approach without getting a lethal dose of radiation."
"Every atom is subject to decay and the expulsion of a 5.4 MeV particle, capable of tissue damage."
"No "fast breeder" is going to eat and destroy radioactivity."
"...because they are radioactive and exothermic."
"...radioactive waste is all one thing that contaminates everything it touches."

Also he wrote:
"Meanwhile, let's send our nuclear waste to those who think they can make it "safe"."

Exactly, even the very lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life then wind farms should be decommissioned, and the uranium should be sent to nuclear power plants where they have suitable radiation shielding.

Jun 08, 2015
http://www.reuter...20150608

Good News!! Now some of the Deniers here can have their own coal plant!!

Think how famous they will be when it clouds up the sky.

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