Japan NRG published the first weekly report exactly three years ago. In this time, a lot has changed in terms of policies and corporate actions, but also in the report’s style and content. We hope the changes are for the better. In June 2020, Japan was several months into dealing with a new pandemic and uncertainty swirled around energy supply and demand. The country had yet to embrace the language and spirit of “net zero” or “carbon neutrality”. However, many of the directions that Japan’s energy sphere has taken since then were already emerging.
Looking back at the first issues of Japan NRG Weekly, what’s surprising is how many of the stories and narratives seem familiar even today. A number of traditional energy firms were taking early steps into renewables. The major power utilities were engulfed in multiple scandals. Climate action groups were pressuring companies to exit coal. And new technologies were threatening to disrupt established incumbents.
Such story echoes might feed into the idea that in Japan nothing ever changes. Yet, clearly the energy landscape is markedly different from where it was in June 2022. Today, Japan has a law that mandates net-zero emissions nationwide by 2050. The level of investment primed for clean energy projects is several times bigger; the scope of innovation is broader; the attention and sense of urgency is that much greater and widespread. Also, Japan’s actions are much more in tune with those in other parts of the world.
In this piece, we’re taking a trip down memory lane to review what were the big issues and stories when Japan NRG first launched, and give an update on those developments.