Japan’s clean electricity transition faces a coal problem

Japan’s solar spree in recent years meant that wind and solar combined generated a tenth of the country’s electricity in 2021. However, its slow electricity transition means fossil generation still accounted for 68% of generation in 2021.

Japan’s coal generation dropped by 8% between 2016 and 2021. During this period, Japan fell behind other countries that are phasing out coal much faster such as Australia (-19%), the US (-27%), and the EU (-36%). As a result, the share of coal in Japan’s electricity mix just fell marginally from 32% to 31% in the last five years.

Japan’s Net Zero by 2050 pledge is welcome, but the lack of concrete plans to phase out coal threatens to undermine it. As the IEA shows, to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, Japan should phase out coal by 2030, fully decarbonise electricity by 2035 and become net-zero by 2050.

Last updated: March 2022

Progress towards clean power targets