Energy / Climate Change

December 21, 2011


Current Status of Renewable Energy in Japan (2011)

Keywords: Renewable Energy 

Efforts to introduce renewable energy have begun to accelerate worldwide. These forms of energy do not promote climate change and are important from an energy security perspective. Despite this global trend, Japan has lagged far behind in promoting renewable energy. The Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, and the subsequent serious accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant owned by Tokyo Electric Power Co, strongly raised individual awareness about saving electricity and energy issues. On August 26, 2011, the law on renewable energy came into effect including provisions for a feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme (to pay smaller producers who supply electricity to the power grid) to begin on July 1, 2012. These factors are causing substantial changes in the prospects for renewable energy in Japan.

Related JFS articles:

JFS launched a web page in 2010 to report on Japan's current renewable energy situation. One year has passed since then, so we have updated our numbers to show the latest data, including the amount of power generation. (Updated figures and other data are shown in italics).

The following table shows how much of each type of renewable energy is generated domestically, and its proportion of total power generated in Japan. What is your reaction when you see these numbers?
(Click on a renewable type for more details.)

Amount of power generation, by type and by proportion of total power generated in Japan (FY 2009)
Renewable Type Power Generation (GWh) Percent
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) 2,966 0.3%
Wind 3,830 0.3%
Geothermal 2,908 0.3%
Small-Scale Hydropower 17,280 1.6%
Biomass 11,624 1.0%
Total 38,608 3.5%
The above figures were calculated based on the following:
  • Solar photovoltaic: Calculated based on a 12% utilization rate of total capacity; JPEA domestic shipments were used to estimate total capacity.
  • Wind: Calculated based on a 20% utilization rate of total capacity; NEDO data collated by JWPA to estimate total capacity.
  • Geothermal: Figures from "Current Status and Trends in Geothermal Power", published by the Thermal and Nuclear Power Engineering Society (2008).
  • Hydropower: Calculated based on a 61% utilization rate of total capacity; facilities included come from the "Hydropower Stations Database", published by the Japan Electric Power Civil Engineering Association. Included power stations are the conduit/run-of-river type and pondage type stations with maximum generation capacity of up to 10,000 kW, and Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) eligible facilities.
  • Biomass: Calculated based on a 70% utilization rate of total capacity, assuming that 60% of fuel is biomass. Included power stations were RPS eligible facilities with a biomass ratio of about 60% or greater. Energy source breakdown is as follows: general waste power generation (56%), industrial waste power generation (36.6%), food/livestock biomass (1.6%), woody biomass (5.8%).

*Total Power Generation in Japan: Includes major electric power utilities, other electric power producers, and in-house power generation. ("EDMC Handbook of Energy & Economic Statistics in Japan (2011)")

The graph below shows proportions of overall domestic energy generation in FY2009, by source.

Proportions of Energy Generated, by Source (2009)
Figures for renewables were calculated based on the "Renewables Japan Status Report 2011." Other figures were calculated based on the "EDMC Handbook of Energy & Economic Statistics in Japan (2011)"

Produced in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP):


Go to Current Status of Renewable Energy in Japan (2016)