¥131 billion earmarked in upcoming budget for renewable energy


The Abe administration decided Wednesday to boost efforts next year to promote renewable energy following the Fukushima nuclear crisis, after the feed-in tariff system, which guarantees above-market rates for selling energy produced from clean sources, ran into trouble only two years after its introduction.

The administration is expected to secure in the fiscal 2015 budget a total of ¥130.7 billion for various programs to promote research into and use of renewable energy.

Out of that total, it is expected to spend ¥4.4 billion on measures to lower the cost of solar power generation, while planning to earmark ¥8 billion for promoting geothermal power and ¥7.9 billion for developing technologies related to offshore wind power.

The feed-in tariff scheme, under which utilities are obliged to buy all clean energy at fixed rates, has been hamstrung by new suppliers flooding into the solar power business. Some power companies have said they won’t buy the power out of concern that network overcapacity could cause blackouts.

But the budget plan also underscores the administration’s desire to continue utilizing nuclear power. It is earmarking ¥19.6 billion to cover maintenance costs for the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor, which was developed to play a key role in Japan’s long-standing nuclear fuel recycling policy but has remained largely offline due to a series of safety problems.

It plans to allocate ¥12.2 billion as subsidies for enhancing nuclear safety measures at the local level as some idled reactors come back online this year.