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.

Advertisements

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)

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.

Continue reading

Nuclear Charges 10X More Than Renewable Fees In Japan

Some vested interests want you to think that Japan’s new renewable energy feed-in tariffs (FIT) are really expensive! Well, their sort of right – everything costs money, but are the FITs really expensive?

The Japan renewable energy feed-in tariffs system, after its launch in July, will be paid for by electricity consumers. Everyone who buys electricity will have some additional amount tagged onto their bill each month to pay for the renewable deployment.

A typical household with a 7,000 yen (about €68 or US$88 per month) electric bill will be charged an additional renewable energy fee of 70 to 100 yen (about one Euro or US dollar)  per month. These fees will be collected from everyone and used to pay for the FITs for renewable energy deployed.

Continue reading

Feed-in Tariffs Are A Very Good Thing

Renewable energy FITs are in the news a lot these days here in Japan. “FIT” is the acronym for Feed-In Tariffs – a mechanism for paying for production of renewable energy at a guaranteed price. FITs are designed to encourage both investment in renewable energy production by allowing an energy producers to have a sure fire way to make money off their investment.  FITs have proven extremely successful in developing the renewable energy market in a large number of countries.

A silly man commented to me online that FITs are somehow very bad. Initially I thought that this silly person must be misinformed, but upon looking up his name online, I discovered he works in the nuclear industry. FITs are not so good for people with vested interests in nuclear as FITs enable countries to get by without nuclear plants.

Continue reading

Thorium Nuclear Information Resources

UPDATE (2012/05/02): Added IEER’s Some Characteristics of Uranium and Thorium
UPDATE (2012/04/29): Added the UK NNL report! Thanks DARyan!

There is a rash of misinformation on the net about the supposed merits of the ‘new’ nuclear energy source on the block, thorium. I am sure that in a perfect world where nobody lies, thorium would be the perfect answer to the world’s energy needs as is claimed. This is unfortunately not the case.

Apparently, every time there is a new nuclear catastrophe, the thorium ‘miracle’ is promoted again as the ‘savior’ for the world. The Fukushima nuclear radiation catastrophe was not unique and the thorium misinformation artists have come out in droves. It’s the nuclear industry’s defense mechanism – create a new ‘safety myth’ that regular people can latch onto.

In reality, the thorium nuclear fuel cycle has been under development since the very early days of the nuclear industry. India, for example, has spent decades trying to commercialize it, and has failed. The US, Russia, Germany, and many others tried and failed as well. At best, thorium based nuclear power generation may be commercialized in a few decades.

I doubt it.

Fortunately, there are a number of independent trustworthy and expert sources of information on the internet regarding thorium nuclear. Here they are:

Continue reading

Democratization Of Energy In Japan – It’ll Be Here Soon

UPDATE: I recommend anyone who is interested in this post to read this at Lenz Blog. There is a fantastic short video interview with the German parliamentarian in charge of energy and the environment on FITs and why they’re so successful. It’s highly related to this post!

Image

The major media covering the Japanese feed-in-tariffs (FITs) are missing an angle which I believe is significant. The democratization of energy is going to be a huge change in Japan. Individuals will be taking a major share of the power generation market for the first time in Japan’s history.

Many pundits in the Japanese media are discussing the large business opportunities for companies afforded by the FITs system. Of course there will be massive entrepreneurial opportunities for new players, and legacy energy companies will also participate.

Continue reading