Japan, in the words of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, must “wean itself off of nuclear energy” and expand domestic renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, biomass and geothermal.
This week, the Japanese lower house of parliament approved legislation to promote new investment in these new energy technologies. This decision is a big step towards Japan’s new energy policy following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The bill furthers the Prime Minister’s goal of increasing the use of renewable energy to supply Japan’s power needs – without relying on nuclear.
The new laws would make it mandatory for utilities to buy electricity generated from solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and small hydro power plants at current pricing rates for up to the next two decades, passing costs onto end consumers. Certain exemptions would be included for particularly energy-intensive industries. Upon approval by Japan’s upper parliamentary house, the new law could go into effect by July of 2012.
Of all the renewable energy industries supported by the bill, solar is expected to receive the initial boost. It is estimated that with passage of the new bill, Japan’s solar capacity could grow to 100,000MW by 2015, up from 40,000MW today, as corporations and local governments install large-scale solar installations.