Japan reviews power line rules to bolster renewable energy

©Kyodo News

Japan has started reviewing rules on the use of power transmission lines to accelerate the expansion of renewable power generation, aiming to shift away from a dependence on coal and reduce carbon emissions in the face of global criticism, officials said Wednesday.

Under the current rules, the distribution of electricity generated by coal-fired thermal power is prioritized and the limited capacity of the cables makes new connections by renewable powers difficult.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will allow new connections to power lines at times of less traffic by the end of 2021 across Japan. It will also mull ways to avoid the disadvantageous treatment of renewable energy compared to coal power in connections to power lines.

With most nuclear power plants remaining offline since the 2011 crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi complex, Japan currently depends on coal to generate 32 percent of its electricity, compared with just 17 percent by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Japan's dependence on coal has led to international criticism for not doing enough to fight global warming. European countries such as Britain, France and Germany plan to phase out coal in the coming years as part of decarbonization efforts.

In response, the Japanese industry ministry said last month the government is aiming to usher out low-efficiency coal-fired power generators by fiscal 2030. It has also set a target of lifting the ratio of renewable energy to around 22 to 24 percent of its electricity by March 2031.

Aside from reviewing the rules on the use of power transmission lines, Japan faces other challenges for the expansion of renewable energy, such as the need to secure storage batteries and reduce costs.