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After Fukushima Japan Invests in Coal Industry

Mark Piazzalunga

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In these days Japanese government took the worst decision concerning energy: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing Japan’s coal industry to expand sales at home and abroad. Japan is still fixing the disasters of Fukushima and what is the best thing to do after a nuclear disaster? Expand coal industry! What kind of government would do the contrary of what U.N. told to do for the wellness of planet? A new energy plan approved by Japan’s cabinet on April 11 designates coal an important long-term electricity source.

Japan is one of the richest states in the world and this decision is a step backward in the long path to green politics. According to IEA (International Energy Agency) Japan renewable energy share should reach 28.2% of total generation in 2035. With this conservative policy this number has become an impossible projection. The most shocking fact is that this energy plan has been approved a few days after U.N. shouted that fossil fuels are the cause of climate change and that their use must stop right now.

This is the clear demonstration that money and profit are more important than environment and people. What's worse than oil? Coal, which represents 48% of total energy consumption, is the main responsible for global warming. The only reason to make investments in coal industry is to produce a large amount of electricity at a low cost. Now the question is: when will governments start to understand that future is important as much as the present?

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Sad news indeed. Japan should instead focus on energy efficiency and ramping up their renewable power capacity. Didn't Greenpeace last year show how Japan could replace their entire nuclear fleet with renewables, efficiency and smart management?

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Exactly, the PDF of the project can be easily found on the Internet. The biggest "problem" of renewable energy, that only somebody sees, is its cost which is too high but it's a lie! In 1973 photovoltaics costs 76 $/Watt and now it's 0.74 $/MWh and it will decrease more and more. It's an investment with a bright future but some countries just want to continue to burn fossil fuels. This is a global problem because it hurts everybody. We share energy, we also share pollution.

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Bloomberg has some more information about Japan's decision to embrace coal: Post-Fukushima Japan Chooses Coal Over Renewable Energy


"A new energy plan approved by Japan’s cabinet on April 11 designates coal an important long-term electricity source while falling short of setting specific targets for cleaner energy from wind, solar and geothermal. The policy also gives nuclear power the same prominence as coal in Japan’s energy strategy."


Greenpeace has issued several reports on potential energy scenarios for various regions and countries over the years. Check out this website if you are interested in learning more about the energy scenario for Japan.
Here are two reports from 2011 respectively 2012:

The potential for renewable energy production, such as offshore wind farms, in Japan is huge. But Japan unfortunately has a conservative government and we all know conservative's dinosaur-like attitude towards renewables...


Did you know that the Japanese wind farms were left unscathed by the massive Japanese earthquake disaster in 2011? That's pretty amazing, and it says a lot about the advantages of renewables over dangerous energy sources such as nuclear or climate-killing coal.

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