Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to spur investment in the nation’s electricity industry to about 30 trillion yen ($299 billion) in the next decade as he seeks to revive the world’s third-biggest economy.
Investment in wind, geothermal and other renewable sources will be accelerated by “drastically” speeding up environmental assessment processes, Abe said in prepared comments for a speech in Tokyo today to preview his government’s economic growth strategy to be detailed next week.
Shares of Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the idled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, tumbled its daily limit of 100 yen, or 16 percent, to 513 yen after the speech, which excluded reference to when Japan may restart nuclear reactors idled after the March 2011 disaster. Nuclear power accounted for more than a quarter of Japan’s energy before the Fukushima accident.
The country will help innovations in the power businesses by fully liberalizing and separating distribution and transmission operations from generation, Abe said. The government wants to pass the power reforms bill, which has been submitted to the parliament, “by all possible means,” Abe said.
A government advisory panel in February recommended measures to restructure the power industry, including spinning off distribution networks, a step toward ending the power companies’ monopoly. Japan’s 10 regional power companies dominate electricity generation, transmission and distribution.
The 30 trillion yen target represents a 50 percent increase from levels in the past 10 years, Abe said, without providing details on where the money will be spent or saying how much will be put into renewable energy. The measures were included in a speech outlining Abe’s growth strategy, the “third arrow” of an economic revival plan.
The country will build cutting-edge coal-fired power plants at home and will export the technology to other countries to cut global carbon dioxide emissions, Abe said.
Japan, the world’s fifth-biggest carbon dioxide emitter in 2010, last year introduced a feed-in-tariff program to spur investment in renewable energy by paying electricity producers above-market rates for their output. The country is reviewing its target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels after the Fukushima disaster prompted the shutdown of most of its reactors and forced the nation to rely on oil-, gas- and coal-power plants.
“We will develop every single energy technology by making investment at home and deploy it to the world,” Abe said in the prepared comments. “That’s the only way for a resource-poor country like Japan to survive.”
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