The draft of the government's new Basic Energy Plan, compiled by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry for Cabinet approval this summer, calls for long-term efforts to make renewable energies such as solar and wind power a "major source of power supply" as the nation pursues the transition to a post-carbon economy envisioned under the 2015 Paris agreement to combat climate change. But it falls short of setting new targets for boosting the share of renewable sources in the nation's electricity generation — as the 2030 energy mix targets that accompanied the current energy plan set in 2014 are kept unchanged.
In fact, the new plan keeps much of the substance of the current plan intact — and fails to send a clear-cut message as to whether or how the government wants to change the nation's energy supply structure. Still, it lays out the agenda for what's needed to expand power generation through renewable sources — in which Japan still lags far behind many other industrialized economies. The sharp increase in solar and wind power in recent years has been subsidized under the feed-in tariff (FIT) system introduced in 2012 to buy electricity generated by renewable sources at pre-determined advantageous prices in order to promote its use — whose cost is added on to consumers' electricity bills.
The plan calls for turning renewable energy into "economically independent" sources of power that can compete with other sources without relying on a subsidy program, as well as developing technology to stabilize power supply from renewable sources against changing weather conditions. To realize the idea of renewables as a major source of power, the basic plan should be followed up by more concrete programs to put this agenda into actual policy steps.