Japan: Climate Progress Indicators

Almost no change in the number of coal-fired power plants; upward trend in share of renewable energy in the overall energy mix, especially solar power; an increase in the use of nuclear power.


Operational coal-fired power plants

In Post 49 published on April 12, 2022, the baseline for the number of coal-fired power plants was recorded as 167. Approximately three months later there has been a decrease in the number of coal-fired plants of one plant. Today, the number listed on Beyond Coal’s website is 166. The site in question was the Saijo Power Station in Ehime prefecture, a 406-megawatt coal-fired power station that had been in operation since 1965. Unfortunately, there is currently a plan to replace this station with a proposed 500-megawatt coal-fired power station planned for operation from March – June 2023.


Renewable energy’s share of Japan’s energy mix

In Post 49 published on April 12, 2022, the baseline for the share of Japan’s energy mix coming from renewable energy was 20.8% based on the most recent data available at the time, which was for 2020. Since then, the 2021 results have been made public and renewables are estimated to constitute 22.4% of all electricity generated in Japan (including on-site consumption), a 1.6% increase year on year. While the increase would appear small, we will take it as a sign that “the aircraft carrier has initiated its turn” in the right direction. A large part of this change comes from an increase of solar from 8.5% to 9.3%, which, combined with 0.87% in wind pushed Japan’s Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) above 10% for the first time coming in at 10.2%. Other notable changes in the power mix include an increase in biomass from 3.2% in 2020 to 4.1% in 2021, with both wind and geothermal remaining almost unchanged.

Combined with the 0.87% share of wind power, the share of VRE has exceeded 10%, reaching 10.2%, up from 9.4% in the previous year. As for renewables other than solar power, the share of electricity generated from biomass power was 4.1%, up from 3.2% in the previous year. On the other hand, wind power and geothermal power remained almost unchanged from the previous year at 0.87% and 0.25%, respectively. Hydroelectricity decreased slightly from the previous year to 7.8%.

As to fossil fuel-based power generation, there was a material decrease of 3.2% year on year from 74.9% in 2020 to 71.7% in 2021 with both coal and gas seeing declines. Nuclear power increased during the same period from 4.3% to 5.9%.

Fossil-fueled thermal power generation accounted for 71.7% of total electricity generated during the year, down from 74.9% the previous year. Coal and LNG accounted for 26.5% and 31.7%, respectively, and both fossil fuels are on a declining trend. Nuclear power accounted for 5.9%, up from 4.3% the previous year.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Japan Country Manager James Hawrylak


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