METI Organizes 1st Meeting of Subcommittee on Green Energy Policies

2014/06/19 20:27
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) had the first meeting of the "New Energy Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy by Experts, Etc" June 17, 2014.

The goal of the subcommittee is to examine (1) all the existing policies of promoting the use of renewable energies and (2) necessary additional policies based on the Basic Energy Plan, which was approved by the Cabinet in April 2014.

At the meeting, after the amount of introduced renewable energy and the operation status of the feed-in tariff policy were explained, a secretariat presented the following three topics to be discussed: (1) the future introduction of renewable energy based on its current introduction state and properties, (2) the reduction of public burden through the appropriate activation of competition and the promotion of technological development and (3) the further contribution to local economies through the development of renewable energy-based power sources.

In addition, the following six items were presented as specific topics for discussion: (1) the strengthening of the interconnections among areas, (2) measures to improve local power grids, (3) tariff setting and rules related to connection, (4) the reduction of the cost of each power source through technology development, etc, (5) the improvement of the possibility of financing through the preparation of model contract documents, the standardization of construction methods, the promotion of human resource development, etc and (6) the audacious combination of each ministry's policies for energizing local economies.

According to the Basic Energy Plan, the goal of the introduction of renewable energies is to account for at least 20% of the energy generated in Japan. The possibility of achieving this level of introduction will be examined, and a simulation will be performed to calculate the amount of public burden. And the results will be reported to the subcommittee.

Also, prior to the simulation, a group will be formed by committee members and directly inspect the actual circumstances in Europe, where FIT policies were introduced earlier than in Japan. The group will make consideration based on successful and failed cases and lessons learned from them.

At the meeting, in regard to the future of the FIT policy, some committee members voiced concerns about a potential increase in electricity cost due to the increase of extra charge (tariff) while others said the stable continuation of the policy is crucial to the promotion of the introduction of renewable energies. They plan to carefully make consideration through the visit to Europe and the simulation of public burden and make a final report within 2014.