Japan’s clean electricity transition faces a coal problem

Japan’s solar spree in recent years meant that wind and solar combined generated more than a tenth of the country’s electricity in 2022. However, its slow electricity transition means fossil generation still accounted for more than two-thirds of generation in 2022.

In 2022, Japan’s fossil gas generation was down by 2.2% (-7.3 TWh), its fifth consecutive year of decline, with its share in power generation falling to 34%. However, the country’s coal generation rose significantly by 3.1% (+9.7 TWh), largely to cover falls in nuclear generation and hydro. Consequently, Japan is phasing out coal at a much slower pace than counterparts that have seen over 10% reductions in coal generation over the past five years such as the EU (-30%), Australia (-22%), United States (-31%) or South Korea (-13%).

Japan’s Net Zero by 2050 pledge is welcome, but the lack of concrete plans to phase out coal threatens to undermine it. According to the IEA Net Zero Emissions scenario, 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: April 2023

Progress towards 1.5C power sector benchmarks