Useless waste and necessary waste 1.4.1 Coal, oil, nuclear power, new energy (2) Current situation in Japan

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1.4.1 Coal, oil, nuclear power, new energy (2)   Current situation in Japan

As I mentioned earlier, I attended the workshop with many other participants from Asian countries. I myself distributed the technical data of Setsuden-mushi (a profit making device) to attendees and publicized the Setsuden-mushi (a profit making device) to the participants as an immediately implementable energy saving device while making additional explanations and answering questions with the data using PowerPoint.

The following is a summary of energy situation in Japan by Mr. Komikawa as a preparation for attending the conference and workshop. And I translated it into English from Japanese and brought in to introduce the actual situation in Japan.



1. Introduction

  Japan is an island country about 3,000 km from the north to the south, whose land area is about 400,000 km2. It has a population of approximately 130 million concentrated in large cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. Although the climate varies greatly from north to south, it is generally classified as a warm and humid climate with the average annual temperature of about 15 ° C in Tokyo located in the center. (Jan = 5.2 , August = 27.1 )

In Tokyo we have four seasons clearly. It snows once or twice a year in winter and on the contrary it is extremely hot and humid in the summer. Most buildings are air-conditioned.

2. Forms of energy used in the Country

Oil is the center of energy use in Japan. Oil utilization has fallen from nearly 80% of the peak level. However petroleum still accounts for about half of the total and is widely used for automobile fuels, chemical raw materials, mining and other industries (see Figure 1). On the other hand, after the oil crisis in 1970s, policies to reduce the dependence on oil were promoted. As a result the ratio of nuclear power and natural gas thermal power is increasing in the power generation field (see Figure 2). (Japan relies on 97% of its natural gas utilization from overseas, all of which is imported as LNG.)

Japan is actively promoting introduction of new energies (solar power generation, wind power generation, biomass, waste heat utilization and etc.) toward the CO2 reduction target promised by the Kyoto Protocol. In FY1999 the supply ratio of new energy was only 1.2% of the total primary energy supply, but in 2010 we have set a target to triple it (see Chart 3).

Chart 1    Japan's primary energy supply (FY1999)



Nuclear energy

natural gas

water power

water power









Chart 2    Composition of power generation by power source (2000)



Hydro Power

Oil Power

LNG Power

Coal Power








Chart 3   Record of main new energy introduction and future introduction target   

Unit: Crude oil conversion

Energy sector

Results in 1999

Target in 2010



power generation

 53,000 kl

 1.81 million kl

approx. 23 times

Utilization of

solar heat

 980,000 kl

 4,39,000 kl

about 4 times


power generation

    350,000 kl

 1.43 million kl

approx. 38 times


power generation

11.5 million kl

5.52 million kl

approx. 5 times


power generation

 54,000 kl

 340,000 kl

approx. 6 times






 693.0 million kl

 190.1 million kl

 about 3 times

3. Cost of Energy in the Country

Looking at the most familiar charges, electricity and gas charges are higher than those in the developed countries like the US and Europe (see Chart 4). In addition, petroleum refining costs are about 1.5 times higher in Japan in operating and maintenance costs than in the US and Europe (1996. Source: Petroleum Industry Revitalization Center). Regarding coal, the average domestic coal price for steaming coal is about three times the average imported coal price (FY 1997). As showed, Japan's energy supply is relatively expensive.

Next, let's compare the power generation costs of new energy, which is expected as environmentally friendly energy, with existing main power sources. According to the current estimation, there is a considerable difference in cost (see Figure 5).

Chart 4   International comparison of electricity and gas prices (December 1998)



United States



United Kingdom

Electricity charge






Gas fee






(According to the calculation by the public interest business department

                 of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy)

Chart 5   Comparison calculation of power generation costs by power source (yen / kWh)


Hydro Power

Oil Power

LNG Power

Coal Power

Wind Power

Solar Power

5.9 yen

13-20 yen

10.2 yen

6.4 yen

6.5 yen

14-18 yen

60-100 yen

4. Government Initiatives for Energy Conservation

The Japanese government's policy regarding energy is concentrated on the realization of "3 Es", which are Energy Security (stable energy supply), Economy Growth and Environmental Protection (conservation of the global environment). These three should be simultaneously realized.

From the perspective of stable energy supply, it is necessary to improve the energy self-sufficiency rate, diversify import sources and promote energy storage. For economic growth, efforts to further reduce energy costs are needed.

However, the biggest issue for the time being is the third one, conservation of global environment. In particular, there is an urgent need to reduce CO2 emissions toward 2010, which was set as a measure against global warming. The government established the Global Warming Countermeasures Promotion Headquarters (General Manager: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi) in 1998 and is already actively working on countermeasures. Currently, the government is working on three, which are (1) energy conservation measures, (2) new energy measures and (3) fuel conversion and nuclear expansion in the power generation field.

5. Regulatory Issues

The Energy Conservation Law revised in 1999 (law regarding rationalization of energy use) is effective now. This law obliges factories and offices with high energy consumption to implement energy conservation measures and inspections. The law also applies the Top Runner standard method to home appliances and automobiles to promote the spread of energy-saving equipment and promotes the efficiency improvement of equipment. (In this method, the energy consumption efficiency of the equipment is set to a level higher than the performance of the best equipment among the products that are currently commercialized. And this method uses it as the achievement standard value and requires manufacturers to achieve it by the target year.)

The top-runner standard was targeted at home appliances such as air conditioners and TVs and automobiles. Many new products have already passed the standards as a result of the manufacturer's development efforts. And they achieved that standard without waiting for the target year. (After 2003, the target year of the standard varies depending on the item.) The government plans to further expand the target equipment and further improve the efficiency of the equipment.

6. Problems / Barriers

Deregulation such as electric power liberalization is progressing and the economic downturn continues. And in recent years, domestic energy prices have been declining. Under such circumstances, the introduction of energy saving technology is extremely difficult. Various energy-saving technologies have already been put to practical use. However, such technology introduction is still expensive. Whether companies or consumers will be willing to accept the burden remains highly questionable. It is difficult to recover the initial costs by the saved running costs. How to make these technologies used will be the key to successful energy-saving measures in the future. However in order to tackle energy issues comprehensively, we must tackle both the creation and saving of energy. For power generation and power saving, the role of the government, including not only subsidies but also enlightenment activities, is important.

On the other hand, Toyota's Prius (hybrid car) equipped with attractive new technology has sold very well despite its high price. The market valued not only price but also environmental performance. Furthermore, it is expected that fuel cell vehicles will be launched in the market in 2003. There is a good chance that attractive energy-saving technologies will break the price barrier and become widespread.

Regarding environmental performance, not only the surface environmental performance but also the environmental impact (LCA) of the entire process from manufacturing to disposal of the product must be evaluated. And by disclosing that information, a sustainable environmental coexistence society must be established.


Useless waste and necessary waste 1.4.2 Renewable energy, new energy, the most earth-friendly energy

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