Energy in Japan refers to energy and electricity production, consumption, import and export in Japan. The country's primary energy consumption was 477.6 Mtoe in 2011, a decrease of 5% over the previous year.
The country lacks significant domestic reserves of fossil fuel, except coal, and must import substantial amounts of crude oil, natural gas, and other energy resources, including uranium. Japan relied on oil imports to meet about 84 percent of its energy needs in 2010. Japan was also the first coal importer in 2010, with 187 Mt (about 20% of total world coal import), and the first natural gas importer with 99 bcm (12.1% of world total gas import).
While Japan had previously relied on nuclear power to meet about 30% of its electricity needs, after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster all nuclear reactors have been progressively shut down for safety concerns. Ōi Nuclear Power Plant's reactor No. 3 was eventually restarted on 2 July 2012. However, in September 2013 the plant was shut down in order for Ōi Nuclear Power Plant to undergo safety inspections and pass legal checks in order to reopen. On August 11, 2015 and November 1, 2015 the two reactors at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant restarted. Following the Fukushima disaster, the general public has vehemently opposed the use of nuclear energy.
Japan's rapid industrial growth since the end of World War II doubled the nation's energy consumption every five years into the 1990s. During the 1960–72 period of accelerated growth, energy consumption grew much faster than GNP, doubling Japan's consumption of world energy. By 1976, with only 3% of the world's population, Japan was consuming 6% of global energy supplies.
Compared with other nations, electricity in Japan is relatively expensive, and, since the loss of nuclear power after the earthquake and tsunami disaster at Fukushima, the cost of electricity has risen significantly.
In 2012, Japan ranked fifth in the world by electricity production, after the United States, China, European Union, and Russia with 921 TWh produced during that year.
In terms of per capita electricity consumption, the average person in Japan consumed 8,459 kWh in 2004 compared to 14,240 kWh for the average American. In that respect it ranked 18th among the countries of the world. Its per capita electricity consumption increased by 21.8% between 1990 and 2004.
Japan had 282 GW of total installed electricity generating capacity in 2010, the third largest in the world behind the United States and China. However, after the damage by the 2011 earthquake, capacity is estimated to be around 243 GW in mid-2011. It is one of the world's largest users of solar energy, in fourth place behind Germany, Italy, and China. With 53 active nuclear power generating reactor units in 2009, that year Japan ranked third in the world in that respect, after the United States (104 reactors) and France (59). Almost one quarter (24.93%) of its electricity production was from nuclear plants, compared to 76.18% for France and 19.66% for the United States. However, after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, all plants eventually shut down in May 2012 and Ōi Nuclear Power Plant was restarted and operational between June 2012 and September 2013. On the 11th of August 2015 and the 1st of November 2015, the two nuclear reactor of the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant were restarted respectively.
Since the generation disruption caused by the Fukushima disaster, rapid steps have been made to liberalize the electricity supply market. One way this was done in Japan is through the feed-in-tariff scheme. This was announced in 2012 as a direct consequence of the Fukushima disaster. The feed-in-tariff scheme encourages utility operators and companies to purchase and invest in renewable energy. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry set prices for various renewable energy sources to encourage the production and consumption of renewable energy. In April 2016 domestic and small business customers became able to select from over 250 supplier companies competitively selling electricity. Also wholesale electricity trading on the Japan Electric Power Exchange has been encouraged.
Unlike most other industrial countries, Japan doesn't have a single national grid but instead has separate eastern and western grids. The standard voltage at power outlets is 100 V, but the grids operate at different frequencies: 50 Hz in Eastern Japan and 60 Hz in Western Japan. The grids are connected together by 3 frequency converter stations (Higashi-Shimizu, Shin Shinano and Sakuma), but these can only handle 1 GW. A converter station also exists at Minami-Fukumitsu. The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami resulted in 11 reactors being taken offline with a loss of 9.7GW. The 3 converter stations did not have the capacity to transfer enough power from Japan's western power grid to significantly help the eastern grid.
The two grids were originally developed by separate companies. Tokyo Electric Light Co was established in 1883 which also established electric power in Japan. In 1885 demand had grown enough that TELCO bought generation equipment from AEG of Germany. The same happened in the western parts of Japan with General Electric being the supplier to Osaka Electric Lamp. GE's equipment used the US standard 60 Hz while AEG's equipment used the European standard of 50 Hz.
In Japan, the electricity market is divided up into 10 regulated companies:
In 2014 Japan was the 6th largest producer of carbon emissions. In 2013 Japan ranked 28 in the list of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita.
In 2007, the BBC reported that Japan was having difficulty in meeting its 6% reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol partly because Japanese businesses were already very energy efficient. Despite this, in May 2007, the former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that world emissions should be reduced by 50% by 2050. He expected Japan to play a leading role in such an effort. "We must create a new framework which moves beyond the Kyoto Protocol, in which the entire world will participate in emissions reduction," Abe said.
However, since the events of the Tohoku Earthquake, carbon emissions from energy production have increased to near record levels, with 1227Mt released from energy production as opposed to the Kyoto Protocol target of 1136Mt (8% reduction from 1235Mt), just a 0.6% decrease in energy production emissions. The increased use of gas and coal to make up for lost nuclear capacity increased CO2 production by over 3% despite an electrical demand drop of nearly 15%.