Energy / Climate Change

January 24, 2012


Current Status of Small-Scale Hydropower in Japan (2011)

Keywords: Renewable Energy 

Small-scale hydropower (with a generation capacity of 10,000 kilowatts (kW) or less) is a promising source of renewable energy in Japan-- it accounts for about 27.1% of Japan's total renewable energy in terms of installed capacity, and 44.9% in terms of annual power generation (data as of end of fiscal 2009). Nevertheless, the number of new installations has remained low since 1990.

Japan has reviewed its assessment of small-scale hydropower generation several times, for example, during the years of tight power supplies after World War II, the first global oil shock in the 1970s, and in the context of global warming more recently. At present, the use of small-scale hydro is unlikely to spread rapidly due to obstacles such as the large initial cost, the need to establish water rights when using water from rivers, the need to obtain consent of related parties that will be affected by the water intake, and the subsidy systems that sometimes require lengthy negotiations with multiple authorities.

Lately, however, introduction of small-scale hydropower with a generation capacity of up to 1,000 kW is gradually increasing. Local governments and businesses are providing leadership in considering the introduction of small-scale hydroelectric power. New initiatives, including citizen-funded projects, have already started.

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This information is provided with a grant from Artists Project Earth.