Lessons for utilities: How Japan massively screwed up renewables



Quick Take:  I think you'll want to glance through Amory Lovins' recent blog post at the Rocky Mountain Institute. He makes the case that Japan has flubbed its chance at renewables. And not because -- as I thought -- Japan is poor in renewable potential. According to Lovins, Japan is blessed with fabulous renewable resources. Yet a series of stupid moves has left them far behind.


If that's not controversial enough, he also contends that Germany got it all right. Remember -- this is the same Germany where we're seeing a revolt against renewables by some policy makers and customers. I hope you'll review his argument to see if there is something you should be doing differently in your part of the world. - Jesse Berst


Many of us think of Japan as poor in energy. It is indeed poor in fossil fuels. Yet it is the richest of all major industrial countries in renewable energy such as sun, wind and geothermal. In fact, it has nine times the renewable resources of Germany. Yet Germany gets nine times more of its electricity from renewable sources.


The reason? Japan has allowed its regional utility monopolies to block competition. Utilities own almost all the wires and all the power plants. Only about 1% of power is traded via a wholesale power market. Fortunately, Japan is opening its electric power sector to competition as we alerted you recently.

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