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Japan’s journey towards net zero relies on a mix of technology options, but some of them are rather uncertain.


Japan is the world’s third-largest economy, the sixth-biggest CO2 emitter and an influential player in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2020, the country pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, a significant policy shift from its previous climate commitments. Following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in March 2011, Japan started diversifying its energy supply and modernising the sector. Consequently, the share of renewables in its electricity supply has increased significantly, mostly driven by the development of solar PV. Japan aims to have at least 50% renewables in its energy mix in 2050.

Despite these positive developments, CO2 emissions have been stagnating since 1990. While renewables have compensated for the shutdown of nuclear power, the government has done too little to reduce the country’s large coal fleet and cut emissions from key industry sectors such as in the steel production. Furthermore, the country’s long-term strategy is very open, relying on technology options that are still uncertain, such as hydrogen of all ‘colours’ (mostly imported), new nuclear, coal power coupled with carbon capture and storage (CCS), and ammonia co-firing. In addition, the uptake of renewables is slowing down as utilities experience integration challenges and renewables investors face various obstacles.

In this context, Agora Energiewende supports partner organisations in Japan through joint research projects as well as the exchange of best practices, both regarding technology options and policy instruments, between Germany/Europe and Japan. We focus in particular on long-term energy scenarios, renewable energy integration, market design options, and – together with Agora Industry - industrial decarbonisation.

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