By Cass Jacoby.
Earlier this year, Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, announced an ambitious new target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, aiming to reduce emissions to 46% by 2030. Japan is already the world leader in terms of solar capacity per square kilometers, yet struggles to find clean power alternatives with limited land.
The country is roughly the size of California but with three times the population, and still relies more than 70% on coal and natural gas for its electricity. The country will have to get creative with little space for largescale projects and a largely anti-nuclear population when it comes to brainstorming clean power options.
According to the environmental ministry report, Japan will achieve their 2030 solar goal by boosting the use of solar on corporate buildings and parking garages, mandating 50% of central government and municipality buildings to have solar panels and adding four gigawatts of solar energy from public land and promotion areas.
According to analysis by the International Energy Agency, Japan might need as much as 370 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2050 to zero out on emissions.
If Japan is to hit its goal, they will have to find room for many new mega solar projects in each municipality, every house and apartment building built after 2040 will need to have solar panels installed, and farms will have to generate 100 kW worth of solar capacity.
PV Tech reports that Japan’s government plans to expand land availability for solar installations, while investing in technology that can facilitate the deployment of agricultural solar farms.
Still, experts are skeptical that solar panels can be installed on older buildings. According to Bloomberg Green roughly 35% of existing residential buildings have earthquake shock resistance measures that make it challenging to install panels. Additionally, PV Magazine reports that large-scale PV costs in Japan are still among the highest in the world because of limited land availability.
Despite these concerns, The Japan Times still estimates that solar power will overtake nuclear power as the cheapest source of energy for Japan in 2030. The future is looking like solar to Japan, but still, the key to the climate-neutral goal of Japan looks like household solar.
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Cass works as a reporter/writer for RoofersCoffeeShop and AskARoofer. When she isn’t writing about roofs, she is writing about movies for her master's degree and dancing with her plants.