On 11 March 2011 an enormous earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. It is a day that will be remembered in history, not only for the unimaginable human tragedy, but for the resulting nuclear disaster, the scale of which, after Chernobyl, we were told could never happen again. The nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has had one positive outcome, however, as it will also be seen as a turning point in not only Japan’s, but the world’s energy policy.
The Fukushima crisis has triggered intensive discussions on the safety of nuclear power, and as a first result, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy have chosen to end their nuclear programmes and to phase out existing reactors. In Japan, public opinion now overwhelmingly favours renewable energy over nuclear, and while 74% of the installed nuclear capacity has been shut down for safety reasons since March until August (so the left over capacity is 12,600MW), a country-wide effort to reduce energy has proven that Japan can survive without them.
All nuclear reactors will be taken offline for safety checks by end of May 2012. This is a turning point for Japan, and a huge opportunity for it to move towards the sustainable energy future its people demand. With an abundance of renewable energy resources and top class technology, Japan can easily become a renewable energy leader, while simultaneously ending its reliance on risky and expensive nuclear technology. It is also well placed to become much more energy efficient, to reduce the costs of energy as well as emissions, and to do its part to address climate change, the biggest challenge of our age.
The solution is the Energy [R]evolution. Only a dynamic shift in how we generate and use energy will make it possible to achieve both the phase out of nuclear and minimize the risk of climate change. Harnessing the renewable resources would not only make a huge contribution to averting runaway climate change, but would also create a thriving green economy.
The Advanced Energy [R]evolution scenario for Japan is based on a detailed renewable energy resource assessment from Japan’s Ministry of Environment published in April 2011, just weeks after the Fukushima accident. It has used the technical potentials for wind power (onshore and offshore), hydro power, geothermal energy and solar power provided in this study to illustrate a potential pathway. However only a fraction of the technical available renewable energy resources are needed to make the Advanced Energy [R]evolution scenario until 2050 a reality.
turning the nuclear crisis into an opportunity
By August 2011, 40 out of 54 nuclear reactors in Japan have been shut down, due to security and maintenance reasons – so only 26% of the installed nuclear capacity has be available for electricity generation.
The current situation indicates that no nuclear reactor will be able to pass the safety requirements and therefore ALL nuclear reactors may not be available in 2012, and that there is a further need for replacement capacity and electricity generation.
This report, The Advanced Energy [R]evolution—A sustainable Energy Outlook for Japan, has been created to show the paths we can follow for a clean energy future. The ‘reference scenario’ is based on International Energy Agencies (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2009. The Energy [R]evolution scenario is showing prediction of last Energy [R]evolution scenario (published in 2007) to highlight pre-3.11 Fukushima disaster happens. The Emergency Plan + Advanced Energy [R]evolution scenario is the one reflecting the situation after 3.11. Both Energy [R]evolution scenarios were calculated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with support from the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP).
If Japan takes the ‘Energy [R]evolution’ pathway it is possible to achieve a renewable energy future by:
- Phasing out nuclear power generation by 2012
- Generating 43% of electricity from renewable energy by 2020
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 (in comparison of 1990)
In the Advanced Energy [R]evolution scenario Japan can completely phase out nuclear power in 2012 and still reach its pledge of reducing Greenhouse gas emission by 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 with 24% reductions coming through domestic means, and the remaining sourced through flexible mechanisms internationally.
The global market for renewable energy is booming internationally.
Between 2005 and 2010, installed capacity of wind power grew by
255% globally, while solar photovoltaic grew by over 1,000%.
As renewable energy is scaled up, we can start phasing out nuclear
and fossil fuel, and end the reliance on these risky and dirty forms
power. Enhanced efficiency and renewable energy supply can not
only meet Japan’s energy demand, but also help minimize the
effects of climate change and create green jobs and a sustainable
the forgotten solution: energy efficiency
The Japan Energy [R]evolution scenario takes advantage of the enormous potential for the country to become much more energy efficient. Energy efficiency offers some of the simplest, easiest and quickest measures for reducing energy demands, greenhouse gas emissions and cost to end-users. Japan has extensive experience in maximizing energy efficiency, but it proved just how much more can be done during its response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The Government forced businesses to reduce their electricity consumption by 15% in the summer compared with the previous year, the public was asked to conserve power wherever possible, and exciting other new ideas are already appearing on the scene. When the country overcomes its difficulties, there is no doubt that Japan will be a world leader in energy efficiency and it will be a huge asset for the economy.
on the front foot
The Advanced Energy [R]evolution scenario demonstrates that making the necessary transformation in how we use energy is achievable, it provides new opportunities, and creates green and sustainable jobs. We call on Japan’s political leaders to turn the Energy [R]evolution scenario into a reality and to begin the inevitable transition from nuclear/fossil-fuels to renewable energy now, delivering a safe, nuclear-free environment, reduced threat from climate change and a sustainable, prosperous future.