Japan has unveiled its plan to achieve its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which they say calls for tripling renewables’ share of power generation to at least 50%.
According to the Japanese government, it is estimating that, its green growth strategy will generate 190 trillion yen ($1.83 trillion) in economic effects that year.
The anticipated shift from fossil fuels to electricity across the Japanese economy is expected to increase electricity demand by between 30% and 50%. This makes ending power companies’ reliance on coal-fired power plants and sharply increasing adoption of renewables a crucial step of the plan.
The Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, commenting on the development, intimated that, the focus on decarbonization is not a constraint on growth.
He also argued that, the investment to reach the emissions targets will generate new economic growth, in turn spurring further investment and creating a virtuous cycle.
The Japanese government looks to raise Japan’s now-minimal offshore wind capacity to as much as 45 gigawatts by 2040, which will exceed the capacity of Germany, a leader in renewable energy.
The road map lists challenges and solutions in 14 key fields, including hydrogen and offshore wind and calls for average net emissions of zero from new building and home construction by 2030 and for ending all sales of new gasoline-only vehicles by the middle of that decade.
The road map also sets a target of consuming roughly 20 million tons of hydrogen in 2050, with thermal power plants that use the clean-burning fuel seen generating 20% of Japan’s electricity, bringing down the cost of hydrogen, which is now several times as expensive as natural gas, to competitive levels by boosting demand will be key.
The target of 50% to 60% is seen as the most that Japan can feasibly achieve, given such limitations as a dearth of usable land as it is seen that, Tokyo is playing catch-up with such major European economies as Germany, the U.K. and Spain, which get about 40% of their energy from renewables.
According to Japan, autos including low-cost minicars are another focal point of the plan.
Akio Toyoda, Chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, who doubles as the President of Toyota Motor, commenting on the plan also posited that, Japan has long been a world leader in conventional gasoline-fueled cars, and pivoting to green technology will likely take time.
“I can’t see this being achieved without ground-breaking technological innovation. And we could risk losing our international competitiveness without efforts throughout the supply chain.”
He further noted that, the shift could be problematic for the industry’s massive network of parts suppliers, not least because electric vehicles use half as many components as those with combustion engines.
Japan currently produces about 10% of its electricity from renewable sources. The Fourth Strategic Energy Plan set the renewable share goal to be 24% by 2030. In the next 15 years, Japan intends on investing $700 billion into renewable energy. One initiative the Japanese government has implemented in order to boost the amount of renewable energy produced and purchased in Japan is the feed-in tariff scheme. The scheme encourages companies to invest in renewable energy by providing set prices for various types of renewable energy.