Japan’s renewable legislation PM Kan’s last act

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Energy policy in post-Fukushima Japan has been particularly difficult for Kan and while his Prime Ministership may not stay the course, it appears that his renewable energy legislation will. Two bills have passed through the Diet’s lower house and the upper house is expected to pass them on Friday.

The legislation will compel Japan’s utilities to purchase mandated amounts of renewable energy. Operating much in the way that “Renewable Portfolio Standards” (RPS) do in some U.S. states.

Japan’s energy policy after the March earthquake, tsunami and the subsequent Fukushima-Daichi nuclear power plant meltdown has taken a major shift away from nuclear and towards renewables. Even some institutional supporters of nuclear power, dubbed the "nuclear village" by renewable advocates, have backed away from previous support and Kan even publically contemplated closing the country’s reactors.

Despite this and Kan’s seemingly strong support for renewables and photovoltaics, his popularity has fallen so severely that he no longer has sufficient support to stay in government.

On the back of expectations of the legislation’s progress, three Japanese firms have announced that they plan to build a 50 megawatt (MW) solar power plant. In what would be Japan’s largest photovoltaic facility Mitsui Chemical, Toshiba Corp and Mitsui & Co. will work together on the project.

Costing as estimated JPY20 billion (USD$261 million) the funds are expected to be provided in the form of low-cost loans from the government affiliated, Development Bank of Japan, the Japan Times has reported.