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16 June, 2021

ANRE Sticks to “S+3E”

Heated arguments over the core of Japan’s energy policy continue between a task force thoroughly examining regulations on renewable energies, etc., headed by Taro Kono, MInister for Administrative Reform and Regulatory Reform, on one side, and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE), under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), on the other.

The task force insists that ANRE clearly state “the principle of placing top priority on renewable energies” in the next Strategic Energy Plan. ANRE, in turn, insists that the principle of energy policy is “S+3E” (the conventional three E’s of energy security, economic efficiency and environmental protection, plus safety), by which safety, supply stability, environmental compatibility and economic efficiency are pursued simultaneously.

The task force has been successful in getting five ministries and the Cabinet Secretariat to present their views on directions for measures to increase the use of renewable energies. It has asked ANRE to include the following three points on renewable energies in the Strategic Energy Plan:

  • Placing top priority on renewable energies.
  • Reforming the energy system, giving more importance to flexibility than to base load
  • Building a fair, competitive environment.

ANRE has resisted, insisting that the three principles of energy policy continue to be S+3E. Meanwhile, the task-force members are responding that they do not deny S+3E—the fact that it is a fundamental assumption—but that, based on it, renewable energies ought to come first. Progress has thus come to a standstill.

Another point of contention is capacity markets. The task-force members have asked ANRE to table the argument until the necessity of capacity mechanisms and objective reasons for shortages of supply become clearer.

On the other hand, ANRE plans to continue the use of capacity markets while reviewing the capacity-market system. In light of the tight supply and demand situation last winter, the Agency feels an increasing sense of crisis over supply stability, and appears unwilling to alter its position.

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