Japan Data

Japan Relies on Coal for 32% of Electricity Supply


Japan received the satirical “Fossil of the Day” award twice during the COP25 conference held in Madrid, indicating there is still a long way to go before it gives up coal-fired power.

During the recent United Nations climate conference COP25 in Madrid, Spain, Japan was given the “Fossil of the Day” award twice by the international environmental NGO Climate Action Network. This award, a long tradition of the COP conference, is given to countries that are deemed not to be cooperating in combating global warming.

Japan received its first award for Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Kajiyama Hiroshi’s statement following a cabinet meeting that Japan would like to keep options open for coal-fired power plants and use of other fossil fuels for power generation. The second award was given after Minister of the Environment Koizumi Shinjirō made a speech at the conference saying that there were no new developments on coal-related policies; an indication that Japan is not making efforts to phase out coal-fired power.

In 2017, Japan’s power generation breakdown was 39.8% liquefied natural gas, 32.3% coal, 8.7% oil, 8.1% “new” forms of sustainable energy, 8.0% hydro, and 3.1% nuclear. The amount of coal-fired power remained around the same level as that for 2016.

Since the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, most nuclear power plants have been offline, leading to greater dependency on fossil fuels for generation of electricity.

There are signs that  Japan is beginning to wean itself from coal, though. In January 2019, Kyūshū Electric Power Company and Tokyo Gas abandoned plans to build a coal-fired power plant in Sodegaura, Chiba Prefecture, and instead have established a new company with the intention of constructing an LNG-fired thermal power plant. J-Power has also decided to downscale its project to build a coal-fired power plant in Ube, Yamaguchi Prefecture.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: An image of a coal-fired power plant due to start operation in the town of Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, in September 2021. © Jiji; courtesy Tokyo Electric Power Company.)

energy nuclear power fossil fuels