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After achieving success in the grocery business, Shoji Numata is adapting the franchise model to help grow the geothermal industry in Japan.

With a high feed-in-tariff (FIT) rate, Japan emerged, in the early 2000s, as a leader in solar energy and has since maintained installations of around 5 GW per year.

The Japanese government is proposing 20-year FITs lower than $0.010/kWh for rooftop PV and a ceiling price of $0.087/kWh for solar energy auctions. These incentive levels will likely be insufficient to stimulate demand given rising solar project costs.

Earlier this year, we reported on plans of the Japanese government to push geothermal development with deregulation efforts. So together with great feed-in-tariff support, now it seems geothermal is set for another kick.

While Japanese biomass demand continued strong growth in 2020, upcoming policy changes will impact trade flows, supply and demand. Hawkins Wright estimates Japanese wood pellet demand was 1.8 million metric tons (MT) in 2020, up 20% on the year with little sign of slowing.

Japan plans to install 30-45 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind power by 2040 as part of plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Japan has decided to introduce a feed-in-premium (FiP) scheme for renewable power sources from April 2022. But the market-based programme will probably exclude biomass, as well as geothermal and small-scale hydro and solar power projects, which will continue to be financed by the existing feed-in-tariff (FiT) system.

What’s most important is a medium/long-term policy that clearly steers phasing out of fossil fuels (particularly coal) and nuclear power. What is needed is a Japanese ‘Green New Deal’ that would grow new industries centering on renewable energy to every part of the country.

Japan is seeking to bolster global momentum for climate action by hosting an online platform and high-level political event on greening the post-coronavirus economic recovery.

On 11 March 2020, Japan marks the ninth anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which caused a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The meltdown of the plant owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company forced Japanese authorities to introduce many changes to Japan’s energy policy.