Article: Green power surge reveals contradiction in renewable supply, utilities’ demands
The article is about the positive growth of renewable electricity in Japan has encountered stagnation. Recently, Kyushu Electric, Okinawa Electric, Shikoku Electric, Tohoku Electric and Hokkaido Electric have announced to suspend their purchases under the feed-in-tariff (FIT) policy. To ensure the stable income of renewable energy companies, this policy requires Japan’s major power utilities to purchase all electricity which generated by green sources at certain fixed rates set by government. According to power firms, green electricity could be result in blackouts, causing by unstable output of electricity due to weather fluctuations and insufficient capacity of grid to transmit the oversupply of electricity.
From the article, it seems that Japan (especially Japanese government) is changing its image from ‘nuclear state Japan’ to ‘going green Japan’. As McCormack (2011) mentions, the struggles between Japan’s nuclear bureaucracy and civil society has entered into new era after 2011 Fukushima nuclear incident. 3 years later, Japan shows distinct growth in using renewable power and aims to achieve 30 percent of renewable energy in total electricity production by 2030. However, in the article, some people critics that these power utilities have strong desires on reopen the nuclear plants with the say that they require stable, efficient and cost-effective power supply. It shows the inconsistency of the blueprints among the nation and the region’s power utilities.
On top of that, the article shows two contradiction sides of Japan energy: green, eco-friendly and economical, profit driven. After the FIT policy was introduced, there were 11 gigawatt of renewable-power capacity (98% solar power) went online, tapping on high profit growth (Iwata 2014). As mentioned above, current grid does not have enough capacity to transmit the unstable electricity. The power utilities also claim that the demand of solar power is not as high as the expectation and question on the economic sustainability of upgrading the grid. To prompt the future of renewable energy even worse, METI has cut incentives on the solar projects in order to import fossil fuels. With the restrictions of region’s power firms, the renewable power firms might undergo a slow growth in the future.
In conclude, it could not simply assert any conclusion on the prospects of nuclear energy and renewable energy; the topic is still an ongoing debate. If the government wants to achieve the goal and assure the optimistic growth of renewable energy, it is important to ensure the stands of region’s power utilities are on the same page.
Iwana, M. Oct 2014. ‘Japan to Examine Solar-Power Bottlenecks’. Retrieved from Wall Street Journal on 17 Oct 2014: http://online.wsj.com/articles/japan-to-examine-solar-power-bottlenecks-1412943664
McCormack, G. Sept 2011. ‘Hubris Punished: Japan as Nuclear State’. Synthesis/Regeneration: 56. WD Press: 39-42.
Reuters. Oct 2014. ‘As Japan eyes nuclear restarts, renewables get shut out of grid’. Web link: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/10/16/japan-solar-restrictions-idINL3N0RY0U620141016
The Asahi Shimbun. Oct 2014. ‘Editorial: Measures needed to prevent renewable energy boom from going bust’. Web link: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201410040038