Earthquake Pushes Japan Energy Policy in a New Direction
Earthquake Pushes Japan Energy Policy in a New Direction
A Major Step for Japan Feed-in Tariff; PV Japan
Postponed due to Energy Issue
By Yoichiro Ando, SEMI Japan
On the morning of March 11, just a few hours before the massive earthquake and tsunami hit, the Japan Cabinet approved a bill to be presented to the Diet (Japan’s legislative body). The goal of the “Bill on Special Measures Concerning Procurement of Renewable Energy Sourced Electricity by Electric Utilities” is to introduce a feed-in tariff scheme for solar and other renewable energies much like German government did about 20 years ago.
Paul Gipe, a contributor to Renewable Energy World.com reported “It is clear now that if Japan were to follow the path blazed by Germany, it could more than replace the electricity generation lost by the damaged plants at Fukushima in less time than it would take to build new reactors” and indicated Japan “could add 120 TWh per year of new renewable (energy) generation” if the country were to develop renewable energy at the same pace as Germany has over the past decade.
The bill had to wait until April 4 to be actually submitted to the Diet due to the unforeseeable disaster that occurred later on the afternoon of March 11th.
Japan to Reconsider Energy Policy
The Japan Cabinet members have indicated the need to reconsider the current Basic Energy Plan that calls for at least 14 additional nuclear plants by 2030. Last week on April 18 at a session of the Upper House budget Committee, Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the nuclear projects should be reviewed by “going back to the drawing board” once the Fukushima nuclear plant is bought under control.
“Taking this as a lesson, we have to lead the world in clean energy, such as solar and biomass, and make it a major pillar of a new Japan”, Kan also said at the session earlier on March 29. The Chief Government Spokesman, Yukio Edano, later said that the use of clean energy sources would likely be a key feature of a reconstruction plan for the northeastern region (AFP).
Rolling Blackouts and their Impact on Industry
The earthquake and tsunami destroyed Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)’s nuclear plant in Fukushima. With other nuclear and thermal plants shutdown due to the earthquake, TEPCO lost 23 percent of its generating capacity. To avoid an unexpected massive blackout, TEPCO decided to implement rolling blackouts (three hours at a time), the first ever in Japan, in nine prefectures: Tokyo, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Yamanashi and the eastern half of Shizuoka.
While the power shortage impaired peoples’ lives, it also affected industries that further delayed recovery from the earthquake, especially the materials industry where facilities are required to run continuously to yield products for both economical and technical (quality) reasons. To find out more information about impacted facilities, SEMI has assembled a list of links of public announcements about the status of major Japan fabs and SEMI Japan member operations on a spreadsheet "Known Impacts of the Japan Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami on the Semiconductor Supply Chain”
Energy Demand in Coming Summer
TEPCO announced earlier this month that they “have decided to cease the implementation of rolling blackouts for the time being” considering the significant improvement of electricity supply-demand balance achieved by the widespread energy conservation efforts among the general population and industry. However, TEPCO’s supply capacity of 46,500 MW will fall short of the estimated end July peak demand by 8,500 MW. A similar situation applies to Tohoku Electric Power Company (Tohoku EPCO) that covers six prefectures in northeast Japan that include Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima where the earthquake and tsunami devastated the coastal areas.
On the same day as the TEPCO’s announcement about the projected deficit, METI released its draft measures for summer that were presented at a meeting of the Electricity Supply-Demand Emergency Response Headquarters of the Cabinet Office. The “Outline of Electricity Supply-Demand Measures in Summer Time (Draft)” estimates shortfalls of about 10,000 MW in the TEPCO area and 2,800 MW in the Tohoku EPCO area during peak demand in the summer. To avoid rolling blackouts, the measures call for conservation of energy resources to reduce the demand level below the generating capacity with a target figure set for each category of users:
- Large users (contract electricity: 500 kW or more) are requested to reduce electricity consumption by about 25 percent.
- Small users (entrepreneurs with contract electricity of less than 500 kW) are requested to reduce electricity consumption by about 20 percent.
- Households and individuals are requested to reduce electricity consumption by about 15 to 20 percent.
SEMI Moves PVJapan 2011 to Winter
SEMI and the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association have organized an annual solar tradeshow, PVJapan, for the past three years and this year’s show was originally scheduled for July 27 to 29 at Makuhari Messe, Chiba — the very peak of energy demand in the TEPCO area. The two associations decided to postpone the event until December 5 to 7, a time where electricity demand is expected to be much lower.
“The tragic events of March 11, 2011, and the continued recovery efforts have heightened the importance of renewable energy and distributed power generation in Japan,” said Hank Nakagawa, president of SEMI Japan. “Solar power promises to aid in the recovery of the disaster-affected areas and the Japanese economy. We believe that PVJapan 2011 will be an instrumental part of these recovery efforts, raising awareness and visibility of the solar industry and advancing renewed investment and reconstruction.”
For more information and opportunities to exhibit your product and technologies that will help Japan to recover under its revised energy policy, please visit the website at http://www.pvjapan.org/en.
SEMI PV Group, The Grid – April 2011