Energy policy: Renewables targeted before Fukushima

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Masahiro Sugiyama and colleagues write that Japan expanded the role of renewables after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident (Nature 531, 2931; 2016). In fact, Japan's targets for renewables were essentially unaffected by the disaster — although the country did alter its nuclear plans.

Japan's projected electricity mix for 2030 is set out in its Strategic Energy Plans. The 2014 plan (see aims to cut nuclear power's contribution to 20–22% by 2030, down from 53% in the 2010 plan (J. Duffield and B. Woodall Energy Policy 39, 37413749; 2011). Fossil fuels, not renewables, are set to make up the shortfall — with the projected contribution for 2030 up by 30% compared with the 2010 plan. Meanwhile, the 2014 plan's 23% contribution from renewables by 2030 is almost unchanged (21% in the 2010 plan).

The authors rightly praise Japan's post-Fukushima attempt to expand solar power. For several decades, the country has developed this technology alongside nuclear power (R. Bointner Energy Policy 73, 733747; 2014). Japanese companies such as Sharp, Sanyo and Kyocera pioneered solar energy, whereas Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Toshiba became leaders in nuclear power. It is good news for the global climate that these technologies can be developed alongside each other.

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  1. Central European University, Budapest, Hungary.

    • Aleh Cherp
  2. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria.

    • Jessica Jewell

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