Ready for a revolution?

Drastic reforms are needed if Japan is to overcome its power crisis. Proposed remedies include unbundling transmission and distribution grids from the country’s ten major region power companies so that new entrants can enter the market. But Nicholas Newman asks if Japan is ready for such changes and will they work. 

Since the nuclear disaster at Fukishima, Japan’s power sector and political economy have undergone a reassessment.

It is now clear that the Japanese public is no longer prepared to accept without question the energy policies dictated by the moguls of the country’s top ten utilities.

And where the public led, government soon followed. In 2011, Japan underwent sweeping changes in policy which resulted in a complete shutdown of the country’s nuclear fleet. Currently, a major restructuring of the power sector, on a scale not seen since Japan’s post-war reconstruction, is underway.

Before Fukushima, Japan was the world’s third largest electricity producer, behind the US and China, generating some 1041 TWh in 2009, or roughly 5 per cent of the world’s total electricity production.

In 2008, electricity consumption averaged 8507 kWh per head, compared with an EU 15 average of 7409 kWh per head, according to an IEA report of 2009.


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