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Bio-fuel affiliation strategies in Japan

Author: Mohammad Habibur Rahman

Edited by: Mohsina Siddique

Description of the product:

In perspectives of Japan, bio-fuel includes most of the forms of biofuels- solid, liquid and gaseous. Forest residues, construction and industrial wastes, woodworking and sawmill by products, wood chips and pellets, pulp and paper industries byproducts are sources of woody biomass in Japan. Although woody biomass is considered important, other solid biomass sources comprises a major share. Agricultural residues, residues from food processing and agro-industries, animal excretes, sewage sludge, energy crops (oil seeds) etc. are equally important biomass source as wood in Japan. Biofuels produced by biomass conversion- biogas, syngas, biodiesel, bioethanol and biobutanol are gaseous and liquid biofuels that are prospective transport fuels in Japan. Japan has identified micro-algae and perennial grasses as most accessible biomass source for conversion to liquid biofuel. However, woody biomass still gets fair attention as highest efficient utilization of woody biomass is an adopted policy.

Bioenergy Market in Japan

Japan is a signatory country of Climate change and Carbon emission reduction treaties. Government of Japan has taken initiatives to switch from nuclear and fossil based energy to renewable energy. Among other renewables, biomass energy has been designed to play crucial role in this effort. The effort has gained pace since the Fukushima incident. Japan's total share of nuclear power was 29% before the Fukushima incident, which has now been reduced to 1.1% as most of the nuclear power plants has been shut down for security reasons. This sudden shift in power production has created much pressure on fossil fuels. Fossil fuel currently supplies 94% of the total primary energy demand in Japan. In 2016, the share of bioenergy was 1.9% only. However, the market has a potential to uptake more input of bio-energy than the supply. Currently Japan imports wood pellets from Canada, Bio-ethanol from Brazil, palm kernel shell and wood chips from Indonesia and Malaysia. Government has set a goal to improve biomass utilization and reach 3.7-4.6% by market share of energy supply by 2030. There are some graphical representation of Japan's current energy market and prospect of Biomass energy in the future are given below. 

Total Energy Supply Scenario in 2016 :

Renewable Energy Scenario:

Share of Different Bioenergy Components:


Energy goal 2030 and Bioenergy Share:


Bioenergy Policy Support In Japan

Japan has incorporated a number of policies regarding biomass energy since 2002. "Biomass Nippon Strategy (2002, revised 2006)" is one of the first policies for affiliation of biomass energy utilization. It was aimed for realization of full biomass utilization for sustainable society. Biomass towns is a idea derived from this policy to create towns that can sustain on biomass energy. In 2004, first biomass town was created and a goal was set to establish 300 such towns by 2010.

Another policy for fortifying the biomass town idea was "Basic Act For The Promotion of Biomass Utilization (2009)". Comprehensive and planned promotion of biomass utilization was the main aim of this policy. Drawing up a plan and setting up a "National Biomass Council" was some achievements of this strategy. "Kyoto Protocol Target Achievement Plan (2005)" was another important policy that included development of transportation fuel from biomass as a key target. "National plan for the promotion of biomass utilization (2010) is another plan that was dedicated to set up targets for biomass utilization by 2020. "Biomass industrialization strategy (2012)" was aimed to setting principals and policies for realization of the biomass goals and specifying targeted conversion technologies and biomass sources for realizing biomass industrialization.

The main instrument in promoting bioenergy in Japan is the "Feed-in-Tariff" (FIT) scheme. This scheme has been in force from 2012. This scheme provides financial aid to the "renewable energy" companies. Bioenergy companies eventually enjoys the benefits. Apart from direct financial aid, government promotes bioenergy development and utilization through numerous other ways. Helping to establish supply chain for biomass is one of the examples. Attracting foreign companies in this sector is also another initiative. Green energy certification has been introduced for encouraging renewable energies. Government funds numerous research projects in the universities and research organizations to develop technologies involving biomass energy.


"Feed-in-tariff" (FIT) scheme has a positive impact on biomass power plants in Japan. The number of certified woody biomass power plants has rapidly increased in past years. It is three times higher than the 2030 target level. At least ten large scale biomass plants are due to establish from 2016 to 2020.  Biomass market has been increased from 248 billion Yen in 2012 to 357 billion Yen in 2018. Many small scale local plants has been established. In 2017, New Energy and Industrial Development Organization (NEDO) has launched a project aimed to develop a full scale manufacturing process technology for production of biomass derived Jet Fuel. Although Japanese government policy has been targeted for indiscriminate promotion of all renewable energy, Biomass energy has achieved a lot. Due to limitation of biomass source in Japan, the target is to capture 4.6% of the market share of total primary energy in Japan by 2030. More attention is growing to micro-algae and agricultural residue based biofuels as those are more easily accessible. They are now commercially cultivate algae as a potential source of bio-fuel.This bio-fuel is carbon neutral and will be cheaper than the conventional fuel. However, Potential use of the available woody biomass will always be in priority. Current policies and Governments interest in this sector is very crucial to expanding the market of bioenergy. 


Country report 2018-Japan, IEA bioenergy, International Energy Agency

The guidebook for promoting biomass utilization at the community level, reference 6-8, Japanese government publication.

Johnny Tan, A look into Japan's renewable energy market, Japan External Trade Organization presentation

Louis du Plessis, Japanese biomass market overview, Japanese External Trade Organization presentation

Nugroho Agung Pambudi et. al. Biomass energy in Japan: Current status and future potential, International Journal of Smart Grid and Clean Energy

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