Japan Renewables Rapidly Accelerating

Japan renewable energy facilities came online at nearly four times the pace of last year for the first two months of the fiscal year beginning in April 2013.

According to the much delayed report released by Japan’s METI a few days ago, renewable energy facilities came online at a far accelerated pace compared to the previous year. In the April 2012 to March 2013 period just over 2GW of new renewable energy power generation facilities came online. In the two month period of April-May 2013 alone, Japan added approximately 1.3GW of additional facilities which is nearly 4X the pace of the previous year on a per month basis.

Non-hydro renewable energy facilities as of May, 2013

New facilities are coming online at accelerated rates in Japan.

This accelerated pace of adoption is apparently the basis for the prediction of approximately 6 to 9 GW of new generation facilities to come online for the current fiscal year.

As noted in my previous post, Japan also approved a huge amount of new renewable energy facilities to the tune of 26+ nuclear reactors worth of power generation. Japan based analyst Dr. Gerhard Fasol noted that new approvals appear to be slowing down. Personally, I am a bit wary of making any judgement at this point. There is a huge backlog of approved projects in the pipeline, and cautious Japanese investors are most likely evaluating the new (and still very generous) feed-in tariff rates that were introduced for solar power as of April this year. More information will need to be released before any judgement can be made whether or not Japan’s renewable boom is here to stay.

More information is available regarding the recent report in Japanese at the METI website.


Japan Adds 4 Nuclear Reactors Worth Of Renewable Energy

After extremely long delays, Japan’s METI has finally announced that the nation has brought about 4 nuclear reactors* worth of renewable energy online since the introduction of its highly successful Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program last year.

Furthermore, Japan has approved more than 26 nuclear reactors* worth of renewable energy facilities during the same period. Approved facilities have not yet come online but have been approved for construction by the government.

The report from METI was published last night in Japan and includes information through May. METI is still running late on publishing data for June and July.

Japan’s FIT program began in July of 2012 and is similar to programs such as Germany’s which have been wildly successful in promoting the creation of renewable energy generation.

Between April 2012 and May 2013, Japan has put 3.359 Gigawatts of renewable energy generation facilities online according to the reports.  The report also reveals that in the 10 month period since the start of the FIT program in July of 2012, new renewable energy facilities capable of generating 22.372 Gigawatts of power have been approved by the government.

At the rapid pace that Japan is installing renewable energy, it is possible for Japan to completely replace its destroyed or shutdown nuclear power facilities within just a few short years.

Japan has a vast and untapped amount of renewable energy resources including solar, wind, small and medium hydro, geothermal, biomass, wave and others. The island nation also has huge potential gains possible via energy efficiency due to its amazing lack of any building energy standards.

* The average existing nuclear reactor output worldwide is approximately 850 Megawatts or .85 Gigawatts per reactor according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013.

P.S. Thanks to the excellent Lenz Blog for posting about the release of the METI report. Also thanks to this tweet from the very knowledgable Hironao Matsubara.

Japan Government Hiding Renewable Energy Progress

Japan’s current administration appears to be suppressing the release of official statistics regarding the rapid growth of renewable energy.

Prior to January of this year, the relevant ministry released monthly reports on renewable energy installations. After the year end elections of the pro-nuclear LDP administration, the monthly reports began to be delayed.

The February report was released months late in May, and the critical fiscal year end March report has yet to be released as of this writing in Mid August.

Industry and government insiders, researchers, and renewable energy activists that I spoke with believe the pro-nuclear Abe administration is trying to hide the massive growth of renewables in an attempt to manipulate public opinion. An uninformed public would be more likely to accept the government’s desire to restart nuclear plants.

I’ve personally called the ministry a number of times over the past several months and gotten no clear response as to why the reports are being delayed. A journalist friend contacted the ministry in mid-July and was told the report would be released by “month’s end” however the reports are still not released.

In context, the apparent suppression of the renewable energy reports coincides with suppression of the large releases of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean by Japan prior to the recent national election. Furthermore, after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, Japan’s freedom of the press has declined dramatically according to Reporters Without Borders.

In my humble opinion, if the Abe administration is truly interested in growing the economy and improving security in Japan, ham-handed attempts at information suppression are highly counter productive. Transparency and accuracy are critical components for Japan’s recovery.

The most recent METI statistics are available here (February 2013, 3 PDF files linked, Japanese).

Journalists and others who are interested can contact the section that prepares the reports directly by telephone to inquire as to the reasons for the delays:

Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI)
Agency for Natural Resources and Energy
Energy Efficiency and New Energy Division
Renewable Energy Promotion Department
Manager: Keisuke Murakami
Other contacts: Yasuda and Nakagawa
Tel: 03-3580-3023 (direct)

Kevin’s Bar

I opened a wine bar in the resort town of Karuizawa (^O^)/

Kevin’s Bar is a “one coin” casual standing bar about two minutes walk from the north exit of Karuizawa Station. Glasses of wine and beer are 500 yen, which is one coin in Japanese currency.

Please feel free to stop by anytime. I post regular updates at the Kevin’s Bar page on Facebook.

BTW, Karuizawa is a gorgeous mountain area where John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent their summers together. It’s also where the current emperor of Japan met the empress playing tennis. Tokyo’s rich and famous converge on Karuizawa each year to escape the oppressive summer heat in the worlds largest metropolitan area.

Here is a pic of the front of my bar.


Japan’s Renewables Rocket Growth Is Overwhelming Government and Industry

Since Japan began its renewable energy feed-in tariff system so many people and companies have decided to install systems, it’s apparently overwhelming the nation’s ability to report on progress. The boom is also causing up to half year wait times for simple rooftop solar panel installations.

As of November last year, the monthly reports from the government indicated a rapidly accelerating growth in the amount of renewable energy power generation in the nuclear radiation catastrophe torn nation.

Japan’s Ministry of Economics Trade & Industry (METI) is running weeks late with its next critical monthly report. METI normally issues the report mid-month following the close of the prior month. The current report for December of 2012 was to be issued around January 15th, but is now not expected till mid February at the earliest. The monthly report includes the amount of new renewable energy plants applied for, and that have begun power generation.

A ministry employee said, “it’s taking time to confirm all the power plants which have started generating power” regarding the delay.

Japan adopted a feed-in tariff system (FIT), similar to Germany’s extremely successful program. Anyone who builds a renewable energy power generation system is guaranteed to have their electricity purchased by the regional electric monopolies.

As of the last report on progress for the month of November, 2012 Japan was already far ahead of its plan to add 2.5GW of new renewable energy by the end of the fiscal year in March this year. As of November, nearly 4GW of new capacity had been applied for and approved. The rate of increase since the program began in July is also increasing. If the current rate continues, Japan could have over 9GW of new power plants applied for by end of June, marking the first year of the new FIT system.

Japan’s ministry employees are not the only ones being overrun with the terrific growth of renewables. A solar distributor for a major Japanese panel manufacturer told this blogger that a rooftop system currently takes up to six months to install due to the massive backlog.

“Yarase” Is Astroturfing Propaganda In Japanese

The Japanese government has begun a series of formal public forums ostensibly to gain consensus on three proposed medium-term energy scenarios.  The first two meetings were held last weekend and have led to public outrage over alleged astroturfing propaganda, called yarase (pronounced yah-rah-say if you’re American) in Japanese.

Two forums held in Sendai and Nagoya included high level power industry employees that were supposedly chosen at random from the public to speak out on the energy scenarios in the public forum. The forums are supposed to be fair and represent general public opinion.

At the Sendai forum one of the panel members announced his employer’s outlook on nuclear power – his employer is Tohohoku Electric Power. Another panel member was from a nuclear power association. The revelations lead to understandably extreme outrage from the members of the audience and the discussion had to be cut short.

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Japan’s Astonishing Lack of Building Energy Standards

There’s an elephant in the tatami room – Japan has absolutely zero mandatory building energy efficiency standards.  This nation’s buildings consume about 40% of all primary energy, and about 70% of all electric power.  Simply improving building efficiency would dramatically change the electric power demand side of the equation in this nuclear catastrophe challenged nation, and yet there is no building code regarding efficient energy usage.

Japan is no stranger to strict building standards, it has some of the worlds toughest quake resistance and fire proofing building code. For some reason the government has never found it necessary to create efficiency requirements by law.

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