Japan: Energy Dinosaur or Innovator?

November 29, 2022|Energy Transition

For most of the past decade Japan has been a favorite punching bag of the activist wing of the environmental movement. Almost each year, for example, the Climate Action Network (CAN) bestows an infamous ‘award’ upon Japan for its use of oil, gas and coal, which account for more than half of the national energy mix. The most recent barb came on Nov 10 when CAN presented Japan with its satirical honor, “Fossil of the Day”, at the UN climate change conference in Egypt, (COP27), accusing Tokyo of not taking sufficient measures to promote green energy and combat climate change.

“The Japanese government is making huge efforts to export false solutions,” stated CAN, also criticizing Prime Minister Kishida for not attending the leaders’ summit, saying, “Maybe he was too busy promoting false solutions in Japan?”

Those accusations of “false solutions” were likely a reference to Japan’s policy of developing and exporting a technology that would over time allow coal plants to also burn ammonia. This approach would prolong the use of such plants while gradually cutting GHG emissions as clean-burning ammonia takes over from coal. Activists, however, want the coal-powered stations closed entirely and now.

Ironically, the CAN ‘award’ came on the same day when Chinese officials at COP27 unabashedly announced plans to expand the nation’s already massive fleet of coal- fired power plants. While Beijing also promotes wind and solar generation, it reportedly plans another 270 GW of coal-fired capacity, more than any country has installed today. The last time China won the “Fossil of the Day” award was in 2013.

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