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Japan’s business firms shifting to clean energy, despite govt’s pro nuclear policy

Japanese firms shift to clean energy despite state’s cling to nuclear power, Japan Today , By Hidetoshi Takada, While Japan’s government clings to atomic power even after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, its private sector is moving ahead with more use of renewables to power their operations amid growing international awareness of global warming.

Daiwa House Industries Co, for instance, became in March a member of both RE100 (Renewable Electricity) and EP100 (Energy Productivity), two global initiatives by the Climate Group.

RE100 is a global, collaborative initiative of influential businesses committed to using 100 percent renewable electricity, while EP100 brings together companies committed to doubling energy productivity to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Among RE100’s 136 members are U.S. General Motors Co and Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever.

Printer maker Ricoh Co, the first Japanese firm to join RE100, was followed by five firms such as online stationery retailer Askul Corp and retail giant Aeon Co., aiming to meet the electricity needs of their global operations with renewable energy between 2030 and 2050.

Daiwa House says it is the world’s first company in the construction and housing sectors to join both campaigns and the first to declare it is taking bold action as part of EP100 among Japanese firms. Currently, there are 15 EP members. Daiwa aims to achieve the both by 2040.

Katsuhiro Koyama, general manager of Daiwa’s environment department, spurred debate to achieve the targets after returning to Japan from the COP23 global climate round in Germany last November.

He had previously taken a cynical view of such tech giants as Apple Inc, Google Inc and Microsoft Corp participating in the RE100 clean energy initiative, seeing it as an “atonement for their sins” of consuming huge amounts of electricity.

But Koyama, one of the Japanese delegate members to the global conference, said he was “inspired” by the firms’ “serious aspirations to leverage clean energy producers” after hearing various discussions.

The Osaka-based Daiwa group has invested an estimated 46.6 billion yen (about $424 million) in the construction of its own solar, hydro and wind power plants nationwide since 2007, producing power equivalent to about 60 percent of the group’s annual use of 481 million kilowatt hours. Meanwhile, it doubled its electricity use efficiency in fiscal 2016 compared to fiscal 2005.

Japanese businesses became much more aware of renewable energy in the wake of the Hokkaido Toyako summit in 2008 in which the Group of Eight countries set a long-term target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, which triggered the suspension of all nuclear power plants in Japan, also sparked public concerns over the country’s energy mix.

The ratio of renewable energy to the nation’s entire power output capacity has risen from 10 percent in fiscal 2010 to 15 percent in fiscal 2016, according to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, boosted by a feed-in tariff system that obliges utilities to buy electricity generated by renewable energy at fixed prices.

The scheme has attracted businesses large and small, even individuals, to pour money into the photovoltaic field as it requires less effort to install and operate in a shorter period of time compared to other types of energy sources, said Yushi Inoue, a research director at Mitsubishi Research Institute, a think tank.

Individual power producers are actively trying to connect with grids in northeastern Japan, and sought to supply “more than three times what we can accept” in a recent offering, said a spokesman of Tohoku-Electric Power Co, the regional utility.

The region, part of which was devastated by the mega quake seven years ago and the subsequent nuclear disaster, has a number of favorable locations for wind power plants. “A vast majority of the seekers are renewable-energy oriented,” he said.

Meanwhile, a similar scheme in Europe that utilizes renewable energy certificates under a guarantee of origin of electricity generated from such sources has gained momentum among environmentally conscious firms, particularly after the 2008 summit on Japan’s northernmost island………

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry drafted the latest energy mix plan due to be finalized this summer, calling nuclear power “an important baseload energy source.” This stance appears to conflict with public opinion which shifted after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. In addition to public sentiment against nuclear power plants, the government’s tougher safety standards led to the shutdown of all the countries reactors. ……..https://japantoday.com/category/business/feature-japan-firms-shift-to-clean-energy-despite-state%27s-cling-to-nuclear-power

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June 25, 2018 - Posted by | business and costs, Japan

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