Generating solutions to the challenges of its geography has always been integral to Japan’s success as a global economic powerhouse. A country renowned for fast thinking in the face of indiscriminate natural disasters, and for its achievements in developing a unique landscape of innovations designed to unleash the potential of its people and resources, the task of harnessing more renewable power has become a top priority in the country’s pursuit of sustainable success.
Nearly nine years ago the Fukushima nuclear energy plant disaster rocked Japan and shocked the world. As a new decade gets underway though, the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima stands on the cusp of becoming an international capital of clean energy. The Nikkei Asia Review reported recently that this resilient corner of north east Japan is investing in solar and wind farms that will see the region run entirely on renewables by 2040, while also providing Tokyo with a percentage of the power it once supplied to the city via the two atomic plants. It is emblematic of the direction of travel in Japan towards ever greater renewable energy investments. Last year the national government showed its intent by designating 11 areas for offshore wind development. The upcoming auctions for the 30-year leases on offer will doubtless attract the biggest names in the industry and inspire greater innovation to capture the opportunities that exist within the sixth largest expanse of territorial waters on the planet.
Japan has said it wants 24% of the country’s energy demands to be met by renewables by 2030, up from around 17% today. Hopes will be high though, that if world leaders currently finalising their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – as the Paris commitments are known, respond to calls for greater ambition, then this figure may be nudged upwards. With the International Renewable Energy Agency estimating that a six-fold increase in clean power ambitions will be needed by 2030 to hit global carbon emission targets and stop temperatures rising 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, decisions taken by countries like Japan, where finding innovative solutions to seemingly impossible problems is in the DNA, will be pivotal in the fight to tackle the climate emergency.