The government plans to phase out about 90 percent of the nation’s 114 low-efficiency coal-fired power generation units over the next decade as it looks to cut down on carbon emissions and shift toward renewable energy, sources within the administration said Thursday.
Industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama is expected to announce the move soon. A government panel will be set up to identify ways electric utilities can be pushed away from coal, the sources said.
Resource-poor Japan relies on coal for about a third of its energy needs. Of the 114 coal-fired power generation units in the country that are considered to have low efficiency, the government is said to be aiming to decommission or take offline about 100 of them by fiscal 2030.
In their place, the government will promote renewable energy such as solar and wind power, which currently provides just 16 to 17 percent of the nation’s electricity generation, as well as looking to restart more of the nuclear reactors that were halted following the Fukushima meltdowns in 2011.
Under its latest Strategic Energy Plan, Japan plans to boost its reliance on renewable energy to 22 to 24 percent and nuclear energy from just 3 percent to 20 to 22 percent by fiscal 2030.
The nation will continue to use high efficiency coal-fired plants while less efficient usage will be faded out, according to the plan.
In the meantime, it is expected to maintain its promotion of coal power technology overseas.
As the government is reviewing the technology export policy, it will likely shift focus toward supporting renewables but continue to promote Japan’s coal-fired power plants for export to developing countries, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
The nation’s current energy-infrastructure export policy, adopted in 2018, supports requests from developing nations seeking Japan’s coal-power technology. Under those guidelines, such assistance is provided when coal is the only economically viable option and when it’s in line with the recipient country’s energy and climate policies.
The nation has promoted its high-efficiency coal technology as the cleanest in the world and the best option for poor countries facing soaring electricity demand.
But it has been criticized for dragging its feet on cutting carbon emissions. Last December, it was twice awarded the “Fossil of the Day” award from an environmental group during the U.N. climate change conference in Madrid for refusing to quit using coal.
In March, Japan maintained its target of a 26 percent reduction from fiscal 2013 levels by fiscal 2030 under the Paris Agreement on climate change, despite calls from the United Nations to set a more ambitious goal.
Read More: Japan aims to shut down 100 inefficient coal plants within decade