Published 16 December 2010
Japan’s Energy Situation
– Trends in Policies and Technologies
1. Energy Situation in Japan
- Dependence on oil has been declining after the two oil crises in the 1970s. The major sources of energy are fossil fuels (natural gas and coal) and nuclear power. Nuclear power is being promoted to achieve a low-carbon society.
- Energy demand has been increasing, although consumption in the industrial sector has remained roughly the same since the 1970s. The commercial/ residential sector and the transport sector are seeing sharp increases.
- The target for the amount of renewable energy for primary energy supply was earlier in 1966 set to 6 % for 2010 (including hydro- and geothermal power), which now have been met, and for 2020 the projection is 9 %.
- Energy efficiency in appliances and passenger vehicles are promoted through government subsidies and support measures.
2. Energy Technology in Japan
- On the supply side, the development and deployment of photovoltaic energy is gaining strong momentum, along with the acceleration in the research and development of biofuels. Nuclear power and high efficiency fossil fuels power generation (natural gas and coal) are also key areas of continuing research and development.
- On the demand side, electric cars and high-efficiency houses/buildings have made considerable improvements in their technologies.
- In the cross-cutting areas, the need to improve performance of the electric grid to accommodate large-scale introduction of renewable energies and to enhance communication between diverse power supplies has made the realization of both the “Smart Grid” and the “Smart Community” an opportunity and a challenge.
3. Opportunities to Expand Swedish Business and Technology in Japan
- Energy policy and strategy in Japan are focused on electric power and its role in the realization of the “Smart Grid” and “Smart Community”, with less emphasis on thermal energy and unused energy.
- Production of thermal biomass energy using unused wood biomass (including forest residue) is an area of future growth. However, as the problem of cost effectiveness with Japanese technology is difficult to overcome, there are opportunities for Swedish business to provide technologies such as drying of wood for biomass and pellet production. The “value chain creation” concept for thermal biomass energy is also an area where Swedish business can provide thought leadership to support future Japanese projects.
- Efficient management of local renewable energy, in particular for thermal energy, has opportunities for large improvements in Japan. Acquisition of secondary energy (unused thermal energy) from factories and waste are neglected and is an area where Swedish businesses can provide technology and consulting for Japanese cities and smaller communities.