Japan Power Association (JPA), the forerunner of current Japan Energy Association (JEA), was established in 1927 in response to the foundation of World Power Conference. JPA was dissolved in April, 1944, during World War II. In 1950, JPA was established as an incorporated organization, and a year later, in 1951 Japan rejoined the World Energy Council, and set up the Japanese Member Committee. JEA’s core activities include research energy issues and gathering of information to promote more efficient energy use. Its goal is to contribute to the activities of all energy industries and energy-related stakeholders.
Teruaki Masumoto has been Chairman of the Japan Energy Association, WEC Japanese Member Committee, since May 2008. In 1962, Mr Masumoto received a BA (Hons) in Political Science and Economics from Waseda University, before going on to join TEPCO. He has devoted his career to the field of corporate communication for environment issues. He worked at Japan Center for Economic Research as an economist (1968-1970). His previous roles within TEPCO included Director of Corporate Communications (1995-1999); Managing Director (1999-2001); and Executive Vice President (2001-2004). He was also Vice Chairman of The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan in 2004. In addition to serving on the Executive Committee of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Mr Masumoto was a member of the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum. He also acts as an advisor to the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) on Climate Change.
Dr Hideaki Tanaka has been secretary general of WEC Japanese Member Committee since May 2010. He received the B.E. and M.S. in electrical engineering and PhD in environment and energy engineering from Waseda University, Tokyo Japan in 1974, 1976 and 2010, respectively. He joined the Tokyo Electric Power Company in 1976. After starting his career as a substation engineer, he has mainly dedicated himself to bulk-power system planning and operation. After retiring from TEPCO in 2010, he started working for the Japan Energy Association, which also serves as the Japanese Member Committee of WEC (World Energy Council). His current technical interests are the asset management on aged transmission facilities and the way to prevent cascading blackouts. He has been teaching power system stability analysis as a part-time lecturer at Waseda University for more than 20 years. Dr. Tanaka is a member or IEE of Japan and IEEE.
Energy in Japan
In 2018, natural disasters such as heavy rains, typhoons and earthquakes have caused enormous damage in Japan, and uncertainty about large-scale accidents caused by future large-scale earthquakes and volcanic eruptions is still high. There is growing awareness that extreme weather caused by climate change, may further increase the damages caused by heavy rains and typhoons.
As trade and tensions between the United States and China become obvious, the decisions taken by the US Administration are a source of concern for Japanese companies. On the other hand, the Japanese government is required to maintain a tight alliance with the United States and build a new balanced relationship with China. In addition, the need of responding to the political situation of the Korean Peninsula, which is still urgent, has a complicated effect on building such relations.
While expansion of renewable energy as a main electricity source is being planned as a way to address climate change, many problems caused by a rapid increase in levy burden by feed-in tariffs (FiT) and massive flow of PV electricity into grids have arisen.
Some of Japan’s major energy challenge today include utilising nuclear power proactively, notably through the re-activation of nuclear power plants, and balancing the market design while considering the 3Es + S (Energy Security, Economic Efficiency, Environment + Safety).
Large-scale Accidents: Similarly to last year, large-scale accidents have been prominent in the minds of Japan’s energy leaders. The high possibility of large-scale earthquake occurrences in the metropolitan area and the Pacific coast, along with the possibility of large-scale volcanic eruption, contribute to enhancing uncertainty. Therefore, ensuring resilience of the energy sector is an urgent need.
Extreme weather risks present a higher degree of uncertainty this year. This is due to severe damages caused by heavy rain and typhoons which occurred this year, and the growing concern of many people on the impacts of climate change.
As last year, U.S. Policy also presents high uncertainty. Japanese energy leaders are worried about the shift in Trump Administration’s position via-a-vis China and North Korea, and the potential impacts this can have in the region. Energy leaders consider it is necessary to build closer relations between Japan and the United States.
The revision of the Strategic Energy Plan 2014 positions renewable energies as the main source of power supply and is aiming for further development by 2050. Nevertheless, Japan is facing several challenges in the development of its domestic solar PV industry. The costs of system installation and generation are still too high. Grid constraints and land availability are also expected to be impact the country’s solar PV market in the medium-term.
China Growth is also considered as an action priority, as the world’s largest market continues to develop at a fast pace. Earlier this year, the Centre for Global Development found that more than ten recipients of the Belt and Road Initiative are at serious risk of not being able to repay their loans. Japanese energy leaders worry that this may cause tensions in the region in addition to the ones it is already witnessing with the United States.
Market Design including the establishment of new electricity markets is progressing in both the electricity and gas sectors. The main challenge is how to successfully develop the market design while taking balance of the 3Es + S (Energy Security, Economic Efficiency, Environment + Safety).
It is required for the energy industry to provide new business and services by making full use of digitalisation, big data and AI. Various attempts are being made for collaboration with IT companies including start-ups.
With an energy self-sufficiency ratio of about 6%, promotion of nuclear energy is indispensable to Japan’s energy industry. In addition to finding ways to reduce its dependence on imports, Japan energy leaders must keep a close eye to shifting domestic energy consumption structure. It is also crucial that leaders focus on decarbonising their energy mix, digitalising and preparing for potential large-scale accidents.