- Japan shut down most of its reactors after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
- The country which traditionally favors renewable energy has had to turn towards coal to make up for the energy demand of its population.
- As a result, Japanese natural gas demand should grow and become a more integral part of its energy generation.
Japan has a history of being a country that is progressive and focused on modern technology. The country currently has a population of over 100 million along with an oil consumption or more than 4 million barrels per day.
As a progressive country, Japan tends to keep its fossil fuel usage at a minimum. The majority of the company's energy came from nuclear power before 2011 and since has come from a variety of renewables along with oil and natural gas.
However, as the country begins to look towards cleaner sources of energy, I expect it will begin to phase out the highly polluting coal and oil it currently uses and instead turn to natural gas as a cleaner longer term source of energy.
Oil and Coal Usage
Let us begin by talking about the country's current usage of oil and coal for its power consumption.
The above image shows Japan's sources of power. The majority of the company's energy consumption currently comes from oil which became rapidly popular during the late 60s and early 70s. However, in recent years, in conjunction with coal, both natural gas and other renewables have become increasing popular with coal and gas making up much of the shortfall from the shutdown of reactors in 2011.
At the same time, Japanese natural gas consumption is expected to continue growing at a relatively slow rate. The country's natural gas consumption is expected to grow by 50% over the coming decades from 2010 - 2040. However, I expect the country's natural gas consumption to grow even quicker.
Population and Energy Trends
Now that we have talked about the country's usage of a variety of different fuels, it is now time to talk about the population and energy trends overall in Japan.
The above image shows Japan's actual and projected population While the image is a bit old it remains accurate. Japan's population has been topping up and is just 2 million higher than where it was two decades ago. The country's population should also continue to remain relatively constant.
While the country saw a drop in its energy consumption in 2009, overall energy consumption is expected to remain constant or grow in coming years. After the earthquake in 2011, the country struggled to find enough energy and encourage conservation among its citizens. Now that the country has gotten the power generation back online, it is starting to see its energy consumption go back up.
Now that we have talked about the country's oil and coal usage along with its population and energy consumption, it is now time to talk about the country's natural gas usage.
As you can see above, after the original 2011 Tohoku earthquake and the coming devastating tsunami, the country had to replace the large number of nuclear reactors which were shut down.
With hydroelectric and other renewable plants taking a long time to start up and build, the country had to turn to fast electricity generation. As a result, the country turned to fossil fuels, primarily natural gas, with the goal of making up this shortage.
However, Japan has limited personal natural gas stockpiles with its natural gas production at several hundred billion cubic feet / year. At the same time Japanese natural consumption has increased rapidly from 3 trillion cubic feet in 2000 to almost 5 trillion cubic feet in 2013.
Now that I have talked about the country's increasing natural gas demand and the factors it influencing it, it is time to finish up by talking about the one thing that may change Japan's natural gas importations.
The country, while it has minimal onshore natural gas resources, has a significant amount of offshore natural gas resources. While the country has not explored these resources significantly yet and is currently having sea territorial issues with China, these resources could have significant reserves.
Since 2011, as a result of the Japanese earthquake, Japan has had to turn towards new sources of energy, one of the most important being natural gas. At the same time the country's population and its natural gas demand have both been growing.
Japan has been searching to find cleaner sources of energy. However, to make up growing energy demand, the country has had to turn towards coal, a very dirty form of energy production. As a result, I expect the country to turn towards natural gas to make up for coal resulting in cleaner energy production.
This article was written by
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