8 years after disaster, Japan must commit to a nuke-free future

hhkk.jpgVisitors observe the No. 2 reactor building, left, and the No. 3 reactor building on the grounds of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in February.

 

March 12, 2019

GLOBAL ENERGY SHIFT

In January, the Renewable Energy Institute released a report saying nuclear power generation is losing its competitiveness globally.

While the costs of nuclear energy have risen due to enhanced safety requirements following the Fukushima accident, the report says, those of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power have fallen, thanks to technological innovations.

Some countries, including Germany and South Korea, have decided to phase out nuclear power generation. In other major countries, including the United States and Britain, the share of nuclear power in the overall power supply has dropped because of the rise of renewable energy.

Even France, a leading nuclear power producer, plans to significantly lower its dependence on atomic energy. In China and India, where the government has been eager to promote nuclear power, renewable energy production is growing faster than nuclear power generation.

Nuclear power once accounted for 17 percent of the world’s total electricity production, but it is now responsible for only around 10 percent of the global power output. In sharp contrast, the share of renewable energy has risen to nearly a quarter of the total. The International Energy Agency predicts that renewable energy will contribute 40 percent of the world’s energy supply in 2040.

A big global energy shift from nuclear power to renewable energy is taking place.

RESPONSIBLE DECISIONS NEEDED

The Abe administration’s efforts to promote exports of nuclear power technology, a key component of its growth strategy, have run into the sands in Britain and Turkey.

It is a big irony that a nation that has suffered a catastrophic nuclear accident is making frustrating efforts to sell its nuclear technology to other countries while repercussions from the accident are driving the world toward a new energy future.

This nation’s government still continues devoting huge amounts of resources to maintaining nuclear power generation, which is clearly in decline worldwide, while putting renewable energy, which will assume growing importance in the coming years, on the back burner. Sticking to this policy would cause Japan to be left out of the emerging mega-energy trend.

To read more :

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903120048.html?fbclid=IwAR0QlaJLD63LPCcqyafTMj76GAuC1q6pGMs-USrJHlAXz2u-fbSkMI3IZYY

Japanese firms shift to clean energy despite state’s cling to nuclear power

_w850.jpg
A 150-meter marine wind turbine is seen being towed off the coast of Awajishima Island. It is being used for an experimental study on offshore wind generation
June 2, 2018
TOKYO – While Japan’s government clings to atomic power even after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, its private sector is moving ahead with more use of renewables to power their operations amid growing international awareness of global warming.
Daiwa House Industries Co, for instance, became in March a member of both RE100 (Renewable Electricity) and EP100 (Energy Productivity), two global initiatives by the Climate Group.
RE100 is a global, collaborative initiative of influential businesses committed to using 100 percent renewable electricity, while EP100 brings together companies committed to doubling energy productivity to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Among RE100’s 136 members are U.S. General Motors Co and Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever.
Printer maker Ricoh Co, the first Japanese firm to join RE100, was followed by five firms such as online stationery retailer Askul Corp and retail giant Aeon Co., aiming to meet the electricity needs of their global operations with renewable energy between 2030 and 2050.
Daiwa House says it is the world’s first company in the construction and housing sectors to join both campaigns and the first to declare it is taking bold action as part of EP100 among Japanese firms. Currently, there are 15 EP members. Daiwa aims to achieve the both by 2040.
Katsuhiro Koyama, general manager of Daiwa’s environment department, spurred debate to achieve the targets after returning to Japan from the COP23 global climate round in Germany last November.
He had previously taken a cynical view of such tech giants as Apple Inc, Google Inc and Microsoft Corp participating in the RE100 clean energy initiative, seeing it as an “atonement for their sins” of consuming huge amounts of electricity.
But Koyama, one of the Japanese delegate members to the global conference, said he was “inspired” by the firms’ “serious aspirations to leverage clean energy producers” after hearing various discussions.
The Osaka-based Daiwa group has invested an estimated 46.6 billion yen (about $424 million) in the construction of its own solar, hydro and wind power plants nationwide since 2007, producing power equivalent to about 60 percent of the group’s annual use of 481 million kilowatt hours. Meanwhile, it doubled its electricity use efficiency in fiscal 2016 compared to fiscal 2005.
Japanese businesses became much more aware of renewable energy in the wake of the Hokkaido Toyako summit in 2008 in which the Group of Eight countries set a long-term target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, which triggered the suspension of all nuclear power plants in Japan, also sparked public concerns over the country’s energy mix.
The ratio of renewable energy to the nation’s entire power output capacity has risen from 10 percent in fiscal 2010 to 15 percent in fiscal 2016, according to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, boosted by a feed-in tariff system that obliges utilities to buy electricity generated by renewable energy at fixed prices.
The scheme has attracted businesses large and small, even individuals, to pour money into the photovoltaic field as it requires less effort to install and operate in a shorter period of time compared to other types of energy sources, said Yushi Inoue, a research director at Mitsubishi Research Institute, a think tank.
Individual power producers are actively trying to connect with grids in northeastern Japan, and sought to supply “more than three times what we can accept” in a recent offering, said a spokesman of Tohoku-Electric Power Co, the regional utility.
The region, part of which was devastated by the mega quake seven years ago and the subsequent nuclear disaster, has a number of favorable locations for wind power plants. “A vast majority of the seekers are renewable-energy oriented,” he said.
Meanwhile, a similar scheme in Europe that utilizes renewable energy certificates under a guarantee of origin of electricity generated from such sources has gained momentum among environmentally conscious firms, particularly after the 2008 summit on Japan’s northernmost island.
The tradable green certificate proves “environmental added value” created by renewable energy producers and can be purchased by electricity users.
Despite the financial burden, Ajinomoto Co switched its energy source to renewable energy for its entire annual electricity use of 4.5 million kilowatt hours at the Tokyo headquarters and major sales bases at home in the business year to March 2018.
Japan’s major seasoning and food maker extended the move to its four group arms in April, aiming to boost its renewable energy use to 50 percent of the group’s total energy consumption by fiscal 2030.
The targeted figure is part of various non-financial targets compiled for the first time in its three-year business management plan that started in fiscal 2017, said Mototsugu Shiratsuchi, general manager of the environment management support group of Ajinomoto.
Although the size of renewable energy certified is fairly small relative to the entire clean energy output in Japan, it has been steadily on the rise, reaching 378 million kilowatt hours in the year to March 2018, according to the Japan Quality Assurance Organization, the accreditation body.
Japan Natural Energy Co, the leading certificate issuer, has over 150 firms as long-term clients, such as Sony Corp and Asahi Breweries Ltd, and about 300 customers on a one-time contract basis.
The company is the pioneer in the field with about an 80 percent market share, according to the accreditation body.
President Masaru Terakoshi said that one of Japan’s global carmakers employed the certificate as part of its corporate social responsibility policy for 15 years but terminated a contract with the issuer two years ago.
The automaker, however, is set to repurchase the warrant this year following re-examination of how it can apply the certificate to its production activity.
Terakoshi declined to specify which automaker but indicated how Japan’s multinational corporations are becoming more aware of taking leadership roles in the fight against climate change.
“Otherwise, companies face a risk of losing clients,” he said, as the most of the world backs the landmark Paris accord of effectively reducing net CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions to zero in the second half of this century.
The tradable certificate is widely used. Some hotels, for example, buy the warrants to claim their banquets are sustained by clean energy.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry drafted the latest energy mix plan due to be finalized this summer, calling nuclear power “an important baseload energy source.” This stance appears to conflict with public opinion which shifted after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. In addition to public sentiment against nuclear power plants, the government’s tougher safety standards led to the shutdown of all the countries reactors.
In the fiscal year through March 2017, fossil fuels accounted for 83 percent of Japan’s electricity output capacity. Renewables are currently at 15 percent.
The ministry proposes nuclear power should account for 20-22 percent of the country’s power source and renewables 22-24 percent in 2030, which still lagged behind the equivalent figures of major European nations in 2015.

Fukushima unveils grand plan for alternative energy transmission line networks

hhijkll.jpg

 

 

A public-private sector consortium tasked with promoting alternative energy in Fukushima Prefecture will start building new power transmission networks next fiscal year.

The consortium, made up of central government agencies, the Fukushima Prefectural Government and electric power companies, met on Sept. 7. It formulated a plan to make the prefecture staggered by 2011 mega-quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster a pioneer in clean energy.

The prefecture has announced plans to create two new wind power generation zones.

The coastal zone, which is close to Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, encompasses the cities and towns of Minamisoma, Namie, Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka, Naraha and Hirono.

The other is the inland Fukushima Abukuma zone, covering Tamura and the villages of Kawauchi and Katsurao. Together, the zones are expected to be among the biggest bases for wind power in Japan.

But due to the lack of power transmission lines in the mountains of Abukuma, operators have dragged their feet on the project.

According to the plan, private-sector companies, as well as Tepco and Tohoku Electric Power Co., will set up a new company tasked with building, maintaining and running power transmission lines. Construction will be financed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which has requested ¥10 billion for the project in fiscal 2017 budget.

The METI subsidy is expected to make it easier for private-sector firms to join the project, as they will not have to make huge capital investments. It is also hoped the project will generate new industries and jobs.

Fukushima Prefecture will start to study the areas where new power lines can be built, with plans to begin construction in fiscal 2017.

The transmission lines will be used to send both wind and solar power by connecting four power generation facilities in the Hama-dori coastal area and the Abukuma mountains with a transformer substation in the town of Tomioka.

The power generated will be used not only in Fukushima, but also in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The consortium hopes to start transmitting power by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The total length of the transmission lines is projected to be around 100 km, most of which will be buried under roads. The project will also use existing transmission lines that connect Tepco’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant with the transformer substation.

The prefecture, which plans to have renewable energy sources cover all its energy needs by 2040, as opposed to around 20 percent as of 2009, is surveying the best sites for wind power production.

The prefecture plans to pick the operators for the wind project in the Abukuma area at the end of this fiscal year. But it has yet to find firms willing to participate in the coastal project.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/18/national/fukushima-unveils-grand-plan-alternative-energy-transmission-line-networks/#.V-ANTTUa6M9

Fukushima Renewable Future Fund Established to Build Brighter Future

hjkàm

 

The Fukushima Renewable Future Fund was established on February 4, 2016, to serve as a repository for donations from both inside and outside Japan to support reconstruction efforts in Fukushima, which was severely affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake (which occurred on March 11, 2011) and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that accompanied the quake. The Fund aims to support initiatives in the fields of renewable energy, regional revitalization, and education and welfare, and is led by residents of Fukushima Prefecture trying to help the region recover from the disaster.

The Fund is engaged in two projects. One is a community-based project focusing on reconstruction efforts and future development in Fukushima. This project aims to discover voluntary reconstruction initiatives led by local residents, and to provide them with financial assistance using donations from Japan and abroad.

The other project records and archives memories of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The project aims to build and operate a memorial hall that will preserve records and memories of the accident. The hall will welcome visitors from Japan and abroad and help to pass on lessons learned from the disaster to future generations.

Three months after the accident, Fukushima residents declared they would create a scenario for the future in which they will pursue sustainable development without depending on nuclear power plants. Originally, Fukushima was a place where residents lived lives emphasizing local history and traditions, showing their gratitude for the abundant blessings of nature, and maintaining warm-hearted ties among people. The Fund aims to revitalize Fukushima in the future while taking pride in the prefecture, as well as to disseminate lessons learned from the Fukushima disaster to the world in an attempt to prevent the tragedy of nuclear accidents from ever happening again here on this earth.

http://www.japanfs.org/en/news/archives/news_id035606.html

As Japan eyes nuclear restarts, renewables get shut out of grid

* Utilities say regional grids can’t take more renewable power

* Govt, nuclear lobby trying to ‘kill’ solar -Pacifica CEO

* Goal to use renewables to ‘greatest extent possible’ -PM

* Govt concern over renewables boosting power bills -source

By Aaron Sheldrick and James Topham

TOKYO, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Japan’s biggest utilities are blocking most new solar and other renewable energy from transmission grids, stirring concern among green power advocates that Japan favours restarting idled nuclear plants at the expense of other fossil-free supply.

Seven out of Japan’s 10 regional power monopolies have blocked further grid access for renewables, saying new supplies would strain distribution systems, and that solar and wind energy are not reliable enough for uninterrupted power flows.

The action compounds concerns about the prospects for renewables since it also comes as Japan’s Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI) has cut incentives for solar projects, despite Tokyo’s pledge to maximise green power to curb fossil fuel imports after the Fukushima crisis shut the nuclear sector.

METI has formed a working group that is meeting for the first time this week to investigate the action by utilities, but the ministry has not escaped criticism from renewables advocates.

“A combination of METI and the nuclear lobby is trying to kill the solar power industry,” said Seth Sulkin, President and CEO of Pacifica Capital KK, a Tokyo-based solar power and commercial real estate developer.

The ministry denies this, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a policy speech last month said Japan’s goal was still to use renewable energy sources to the “greatest extent possible”.

Oil, coal and gas imports have cost Japanese utilities an extra $28 billion a year since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that set off the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 25 years, eventually prompting the shutdown of all of Japan’s reactors.

Japan in 2012 proposed increased reliance on renewables as a way to cut the added costs, but while some reactors are likely to come back onstream next year, new renewable projects are getting shut out.

Tokyo Electric Power Co and Kansai Electric Power Co, Japan’s two biggest regional utilities, said they had cut access to those power sources on parts of their grids due to a lack of capacity.

Other utilities, including Kyushu Electric Power Co , have stopped accepting new supplies, except for household solar.

“If the entire renewables amount already applied for was connected it would cause power production to surpass what our customers use,” said Yuka Otsubo, a spokeswoman for Kyushu Electric, which also said it was concerned that fluctuating solar supplies could cause blackouts.

A METI renewables official said the working group looking at the barring of renewables from power grids needed to promptly check and confirm what the electricity firms were saying.

Industry sources say Japan’s grid could handle renewable input of up to 10 percent, although utilities have not said publicly how much they can take.

HIGH TARIFFS, BIG PLANS

In 2012, Japan introduced a feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme requiring utilities to purchase all electricity generated from renewables at guaranteed rates for set periods.

The rates promised were among the highest in the world for renewables, and this led to a rush of proposals. By April 30 this year, the government had approved 71 gigawatts of capacity under the scheme, according to METI’s latest data, more than 95 percent from solar projects.

Only about 14 percent of the approvals have been connected to utility grids, but that has been enough to raise renewable supplies – excluding hydroelectric – to almost 3 percent of power output from 1 percent before the Fukushima disaster.

But the high number of solar projects has alarmed the government about the extra cost to power bills, especially in rural areas that are support bases for the ruling party, according to a source who was briefed on the matter by an aide to Prime Minister Abe this month.

Solar power can cost up to 38 yen ($0.36) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to produce, more than three times the cost of nuclear power at about 9 yen per kWh, according to a METI study in 2011.

If all the proposed renewables projects were hooked up, about $25 billion a year would be added to power bills, according to one estimate.

Despite this, public opposition to nuclear restarts and support for renewable tariffs remain high, according to opinion polls.

CUTTING SOLAR INCENTIVES

METI has cut the guaranteed fees for solar supplies each year since green power incentives were introduced in 2012 and this month moved to tighten rules on guaranteed payments for larger solar projects, according to local media.

The FIT scheme faces a three-year review starting this month, and some people in the industry are expecting further moves by METI to curtail solar power, even possibly abolishing the guaranteed feed-in rates for sun-powered projects.

“The operation of nuclear power is fine, but as a result I worry that renewable energy will be restricted,” Kenji Araki, an executive at solar developer West Holdings, said in an email.

($1 = 107.10 Japanese yen)

(Editing by Tom Hogue)

Source: Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/16/japan-solar-restrictions-idUSL3N0RY0U620141016