Tokyo Embraces Renewable Energy

TOKYO, Japan, April 6, 2006 (ENS) - Renewable energy has a bright future in Japan's largest city. On Monday, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government issued its Renewable Energy Strategy in an attempt to go beyond the level of pilot projects and increase renewable energy use in the city to 20 percent of all energy supplies by the year 2020.

Tokyo's Bureau of Environment says this target is proposed "from the view point of being in line with other advanced countries and regions on renewable energy use to avoid serious future effects of global warming."

Japan is a signatory to the Kyoto climate protocol, and the bureau says renewable energy use and energy efficiency are the keys to reducing the emission of greenhouse gases linked to climate warming. And in addition, the agency reasons, the growing renewable energy market can create new business opportunities,

The government has installed several pilot projects - wind generators in the Tokyo waterfront area, and a water treatment plant that uses one of Japan's largest solar generators.


Tokyo's two wind generators are located on reclaimed ground by the central breakwater at Tokyo Bay. They generate 2.5 megawatts of power, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 800 ordinary households. (Photo courtesy TMG)
Today, renewable energy supplies about 2.7 percent of the total energy demand from Tokyo's approximately 12.5 million people. Power and heat from waste incineration plants, and solar light and heat are the major sources of renewable energy in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

The Bureau of Environment says that as a city facing the risk of periodic earthquakes, an effective integration of energy policy and disaster preparedness and mitigation policy is needed and renewable energy sources can help.

With the publication of its strategy, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) is opening a public discussion and will set the final target in the TMG Environmental Basic Plan expected to be issued in Fiscal Year 2008.

During this discussion phase, the bureau says energy use should be reexamined, with a view to the reduction of energy consumption.

"Not only can renewable sources be established within Tokyo, but the tremendous purchasing power can also be utilized, thereby boosting levels of renewable energy within Japan as a whole," the Bureau of Environment said.

The bureau said that creating demand for renewables through public education will drive the creation of this new energy sector and enhance local energy choices.


Shintaro Ishihara was first elected governor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 1999. He is serving his second term. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)
In addition, the TMG will launch pilot projects to experiment with new uses of renewable energy and methods of collaboration among various entities. These pilot projects will examine the links between demand and policies, ways to increase added value, and ways to create other advantages, said the bureau.

Some of the pilots planning include enhancing green purchasing to promote renewable energy use among business, power suppliers and governments, and corporate sponsorship for the installation of renewable energy.

A study of how best to use natural energy in housing is planned. The bureau is considering how to promote the design of low energy, comfortable housing with the use of renewable energy, particularly solar heating.

Japan is largely dependent on imported fossil fuels for energy. In 2001, 50.2 percent of all Japanese power came from oil; 16.8 percent came from coal; and 13.6 percent came from natural gas. Nuclear energy was by far the most prominent non-carbon energy source; it contributed 14.4 percent of Japan's total energy consumption.

In 2001, Japan released a Revised Long-Term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook emphasizing efficient use of energy and the development of nuclear power plants as effective means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The Outlook complements the 1999 Revised Energy Savings Law, which calls on central and local governments to offer effective economic incentives to promote wider use on environmentally friendly products and technologies and calls for dramatic increases in the use of renewable energy sources by 2010.

Solar energy's installed capacity is expected to reach 5,000 megawatt (MW) by 2010 in Japan as a whole, while the targets for wind power and geothermal energy are 300 MW and 1,000 MW, respectively. As a volcanic island country, Japan has significant potential for geothermal electricity generation. However, potential sites are difficult to develop, because almost all are located in National Parks.

Renewable energy, especially wind power, benefited from two important pieces of legislation in 2003. The first was a revision of the Electricity Utility Law, which allowed new providers to the sell to a broader array of clients. It is intended to allow independent providers with comparatively little capacity to enter the electricity retailing business.

The Japanese government enacted a Renewable Portfolio Standard law in April 2003 with the aim of stimulating renewable energy to provide 1.35 percent of the country's total electricity supply by 2010.