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Renewable energy in Japan - statistics & facts

In recent years, Japan was one of the leading countries in installed renewable energy capacity and steadily expanded its electricity production from renewable energy sources. Under the new Strategic Energy Plan, the Japanese government increased its target for the share of renewable energy to 38 percent by 2030. Furthermore, the country intends to become entirely carbon neutral by 2050. Most Japanese people supported the use of renewable energy in the future, while nuclear energy and fossil fuels were less approved of.
Nevertheless, Japan remains one of the largest global polluters of carbon dioxide emissions. Hence, there has been international criticism after the United Nation's climate summit in Glasgow in 2021, that Japan's current policies prolong the use of coal and should focus more on the promotion of renewables.

Fossil fuels remained the largest energy sources

After the nuclear disaster in 2011, nuclear energy was replaced with fossil fuels. Natural gas and coal remained the energy sources with the largest share in electricity production. But since the archipelago lacks domestic reserves of fossil fuels, it is highly dependent on imports. This resulted in an increase in electricity costs shortly after the disaster.
To become more independent from fossil fuel imports as well as to reduce electricity costs and greenhouse gas emissions, the Japanese government is currently working on restructuring the energy sector. Fossil fuels are to be replaced with low-carbon energy sources such as nuclear and renewable energy. In recent years, the share of renewable energy in electricity production increased to close to 20 percent, while the share of nuclear electricity remained low at around five percent.

Expansion of the renewable energy sector

Recently, solar power overtook hydropower as the largest renewable energy source in Japan. Since the conventional hydropower potential is considered to be almost fully developed, a further increase in capacity is hardly possible. In contrast, the generation capacity of solar energy keeps rising since Japan made investments in solar power a priority. In 2015, the Japanese government cut the purchase price of electricity that is generated from solar energy. With the average sales price of solar photovoltaic modules decreasing as well, this resulted in a long-term decline in solar power costs. Since the mountainous island nation has limited space on land, it was one of the first to use floating solar panels.
The offshore wind farm market will center on floating turbines as well. Offshore wind farms are expected to expand in the future, as the Japanese government passed a bill in 2019 allowing wind farm companies to operate in the country's waters for up to 30 years. Furthermore, it announced plans to install around 30 to 45 gigawatt of offshore wind power by 2040. Wind energy currently only produces a small amount of energy supply in Japan, but the electricity production from offshore wind energy increased significantly in recent years.  

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