The governor of Japan’s Niigata prefecture, home to the world’s largest nuclear power plant, resigned on Wednesday, saying he hoped to avoid political turmoil over an impending magazine article about his relations with women. News that the governor, Ryuichi Yoneyama, intended to resign sent shares of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc (Tepco) surging as investors bet his departure could make it easier for the utility to restart its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, which is in Niigata prefecture.
Reuters 18th April 2018 read more »
Nikkei Asian Review 18th April 2018 read more »
The tens of thousands of solar panels resting on the surface of the Yamakura dam reservoir have finally begun to earn their keep. This floating solar farm in Chiba prefecture is the biggest of its kind in Japan – and one of the largest in the world – covering 180,000 square metres, or roughly equivalent to 25 Wembley stadium pitches. Over the next two decades its 51,000 solar panels will generate an estimated 16,170 megawatt hours annually – enough to power thousands of local households. In the post-Fukushima era, local authorities around Japan are courting private investment in renewables as part of a push to dramatically increase the ir share of the national energy mix. The project, along with dozens of other large-scale solar farms, is also supposed to help Japan – the world’s fifth-biggest carbon emitter – honour its Paris climate agreement vow to cut carbon emissions by 26% by 2030 from 2013 levels. But while most residents support the Yamakura plant’s construction, in other parts of Chiba prefecture campaigners say the rush to blanket large areas with solar panels has the potential to unleash environmental catastrophes, even as they lower CO2 emissions. Of all of the countries investing in renewables, few are as in need of a fundamental rethink on energy policy as Japan. The country recently marked the seventh anniversary of the tsunami disaster and Fukushima meltdown – which resulted in the closure of dozens of nuclear reactors – yet it still lags behind other countries in clean energy development. China is by far the biggest investor in renewables, according to a 2017 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency. By 2022, the report said, solar and wind capacity in China could reach twice Japan’s current total power capacity. Over the next four years, the growth in renewable energy capacity in the US, India and the European Union are forecast to outstrip that in Japan. According to the ministry of economy, trade and industry, renewable energy accounts for almost 15% of Japan’ energy mix but is dwarfed by coal at 30% and liquefied natural gas at almost 40%. In response, the government is aiming to increase renewables’ share to between 22% and 24% by 2030 – a target described as “ambitious” by the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, but criticised by his foreign minister, Taro Kono.
Guardian 19th April 2018 read more »