In Japan, for the year 2022, the vast majority of electricity consumption was derived from fossil energy, accounting for approximately 71%, with gas and coal sharing equally in this major segment. The remainder of Japan's electricity needs were met by low-carbon energies, which made up nearly a third or 29% of total electricity generation. From this low-carbon energy mix, solar power held a significant share of 10%, followed by hydropower and nuclear energy, which provided 8% and 5% respectively. Biofuels trailed behind with less than 5% contribution to the mix.
One of the ways Japan can increase its low-carbon electricity generation is by expanding the already large solar power generation. However, it can also consider increasing its nuclear energy given that it has been proven feasible and effective in other countries of similar status. For example, France and South Korea have demonstrated tremendous success with nuclear energy, which contributes to 66% and 28% of their total electricity respectively. These countries have successfully positioned themselves as leaders in nuclear power usage, leveraging it as a reliable and substantial source of low-carbon electricity. Thus, by following in these countries' footsteps and positively learning from their experiences, Japan too can certainly increase its low-carbon electricity generation.
Looking at the history of low-carbon electricity in Japan, nuclear energy has seen a tremendous increase since 1978, peaking at an increase of 27.7 terawatt-hours (TWh). However, the early 2000s experienced significant fluctuation with a drastic reduction in nuclear generation by 24.8 TWh in 2002, and an even sharper decline in 2003 by 55.1 TWh. The low-carbon energy sector saw a massive blow in 2011 when nuclear energy production dropped by a staggering 186.5 TWh, followed by another drop of 85.8 TWh in 2012. While there have been slight recoveries in the nuclear sector in recent years, with 32 TWh restored in 2018 and 19.4 TWh in 2021, they were nowhere near enough to make up for the lost production. This history demonstrates Japan's tumultuous relationship with nuclear energy, reflecting the urgent need for a more stable and robust strategy to harness this form of low-carbon energy.