Options Winter 2021: In an attempt to reduce its carbon footprint, Japan has put ambitious strategies in place to reduce energy demand. IIASA researcher Shinichiro Fujimori and his colleagues used modeling to explore potential energy system changes and their cost implications.

Like much of the world, Japan has put in place a strategy to reduce its carbon footprint in the coming decades.

Specifically, Japan has vowed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% before 2050. Its success will depend largely on the concept of energy demand reduction, with particular focus on reductions around energy services such as behavioral changes and material use efficiency improvements. However, the potential results of these changes have not been sufficiently evaluated.

A study by IIASA researcher Shinichiro Fujimori and his colleagues used a detailed, bottom-up energy system model, combined with an energy service demand model, to explore potential energy system changes and their respective cost implications. Their results show that Japan’s energy demand in 2050 can be cut by as much as 37% using these measures. The country’s current plan relies heavily on technology, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) solutions. The findings of the study emphasize the importance of implementing energy service demand reduction measures along with technological solutions.

“To develop a carbon-neutral energy system, energy supply sources need to completely change,” explains Fujimori. “Energy demand reduction can facilitate this major system change. In fact, energy demand reduction offers numerous benefits to the prospect of climate change mitigation in Japan. Additionally, lowering energy demand would have a much greater impact if some key technologies, such as CCS are unavailable.”

By Jeremy Summers