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Japanese(JP)English (United Kingdom)
Conceptual Framework (EG1)

Conceptual Framework (EG1) - Science for climate change mitigation and adaptation

Wanglin YAN, Professor; Kazunori TANJI, Assistant Professor


Contemporary societies around the world face a broad spectrum of problems, many of them contradictory. Populations are declining in one area, but growing exponentially in another; cities are shrinking in one part of the world, while sprawling slums continue their expansion elsewhere. On top of this the need to adapt and mitigate against the effects of climate change demand particular solutions. Though these issues might seem to be opposites, it is important to recognize that they are not discrete phenomena that can be set against each other. In fact when combined they form a kind of opportunity for creating a new paradigm of human development. Taking on climate change issues from this perspective the course teaches the fundamental science of mitigating and adapting to climate change with the intent that students will be able to give shape to inter-disciplinary research projects of their own. We are going to extract patterns of policy and actions by reviewing cases and applications of climate change mitigation and adaptation around the world. Through this process students will develop a fundamental knowledge of climate change, as well as learn the essential skills of literature review, identifying research objectives, and writing research proposals.

The atmosphere of the class / Shonan Fujisawa Campus

The class is kept small and is composed of 1 instructor and the maximum of 15 students (8 students were attending the class at the time of this interview on November 16th). The students are from various countries, such as Japan, South East Asian countries, Germany and the United Kingdom. The class is carried out in English, to better convey its contents to the students who do not have fluency in Japanese, and at the same time to familiarise the Japanese students to the process of information gathering in English. The class provides, in turns, a week of intensive lectures and a week of thorough discussions. On the day of this interview, it was the week of intensive lectures. In the class that day, explanations were given in sequence by the instructor, many questions were asked proactively by the students, and some detail facts about their homeland were added by the foreign students. Various conversations and exchanges took place as the class proceeded.

The class this time started off with the explanation of the CDM Project as set out in the Kyoto Protocol. CDM stands for “Clean Development Mechanism,” which is supposed to be realized through the cooperative efforts between developed countries and developing nations. How it works is that when a developed country contributes to the CO2 reduction within a developing country by providing them advance technology, the reduced amount of CO2 shall be regarded as a part of the CO2 reduction produced by the developed nation who has given the technological assistance.
Explanations were given by the instructor while a PowerPoint presentation was projected on the monitor and keywords were written down on the black board.
Instructor: “There are different types of GHG (Green House Gas) such as CO2, CH4, N2O, and HFC (alternative for chlorofluorocarbon), and the amount of their emissions is traded in the market. Here, developed countries perform so-called Emission Trading (the trading of the amount of emissions) with developing nations who can reduce the emissions at cheap cost as long as they have advance technologies. If the emission of GHG is achieved through technological investments in developing nations, developed countries such as Japan may use such emission amount for their own benefit. Is this clear? “

The instructor made sure from time to time to see if the explanations were properly understood by the students. The students also asked questions to the instructor whenever there was anything unclear. This is how the class continued.

The class carried on with the description of the problem regarding CDM certificates. An exchange of views among the students was held about the fact that the CDM certification process takes time. Later on the instructor expressed the importance of Clean Development Mechanism for developing countries from different perspectives, such as the prevention of pollution and the creation of employment. He then summed up the topic by stating that the MRV (Measuring Reporting Verification) needs to reinforce local resources in order to speed up the certification process.

Next, a pie chart was displayed showing the amount of energy use per industry within Japan. From this chart, we can understand that the amount of energy use at households and at offices accounts for 50% of the total amount.

To a question raised by a student, “why is there a separate item called ‘the amount of energy use by the electricity industry’ even though the power is used by all the industries?” The instructor explained that in general the power generation efficiency is said to be around 40 – 50%, whereas the rest of 50 – 60% of electricity is discharged by the electric industry and is not available in the market. While understanding that the amount of energy use by the electricity industry has never been supplied to the market and discussing the importance to improve the efficiency of the existing power generation system, the topic of discussion naturally shifted to the next theme, “streamlining the power generation system.”

Prior to the Tohoku Earthquake, Japan was planning to build more nuclear power plants. Currently, Japan’s dependency on nuclear power is 25%, and the objective was to increase this to 40% by 2018. The fact that nuclear power has an effect on GHG reduction can be seen as one of the reasons for the increase in the number of nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, if we look at renewable energy, its proportion has been staying around 1%. In Europe, wind and solar power are occupying 10% of the entire power generation.

Looking at the distribution of the nuclear power plants within Japan, we can see that it is concentrated in 3 prefectures (Fukui: Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc, Niigata and Fukushima: Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc.). In order to achieve the 40% goal, it is necessary to build 9 more plants in Fukushima and Aomori prefectures. Due to strong protests by local residents, it is highly difficult to newly build nuclear power plants in those areas where there are none. Therefore, the current situation is that there is no other way but to add new nuclear power facilities in the areas where nuclear power plants or their final treatment facilities already exist.

Next, the amount of demands and supplies provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc. was shown as below (prior to the Tohoku Earthquake):
Maximum: 161,430,000kW
Maximum amount of supply: 58,040,000 kW
Redundancy supply at the time of emergency (power companies are required to hold redundancy supply at all times): 5.8%
Period with maximum consumption: Summer (use of AC, etc.)

In Japan, its power supply system has different frequency between East and West.
West: 60Hz
East: 50Hz
This is due to the fact that, 150 years ago, Kansai Electric bought power generators from Germany, and electric companies in the Kanto region from the U.S. Because of this, Tokyo Electric cannot use the electricity generated by Kansai Electric. Although Tohoku Electric and Hokkaido Electric generate the same 50Hz frequency band as Tokyo Electric, the amount of their power generation is little due to the small scale of the industry. Thus, they do not possess the capacity to supply electricity to the Kanto region. As a result of the Tohoku Earthquake in March 2011, a total of 1,200kW of both nuclear and thermal power became unavailable, which is 1/3 of the entire capacity of Tokyo Electric. It is now required to save electricity and keep the amount of power consumption within 48,040,000kW, especially to cover the loss of the 2 nuclear power plants (470+450≒1,000kW)which have no prospect of resuming due to their contamination and incomplete safety measures. The implementation of other technologies instead of nuclear power is highly called for.

Renewable Energy in the world

Power generation is performed using a variety of renewable energies such as wind, liquefied biomass (water purification), geothermal heat, water, etc. Because of its inexpensive cost for installation, the mainstream is wind power generation. Observing the amount of power generation of each country, we can see that Denmark has a high proportion of power generation using renewable energy, which is 25% of the entire figure of the country. The installation of renewable energy generation is being promoted also in Germany and the U.K., but this does not appear to be the case in Japan and the U.S. However, in Japan, there has been a background check assuming that 70 – 80% of power supply becomes possibly available if solar power generation is employed, and 30 – 50% with wind power. Resources and technologies are ready in Japan, but the problem lies in the cost allocation policy.

RPS Regulations (Japan, the U.K., Italy, Australia, etc.)
FIT Regulations (Denmark, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, etc.)
RPS: Renewable Portfolio Standard (Special measures regarding the use of new energy by electric enterprises)
FIT: Feed-in Tariff (Fixed tariff for all the power generated by renewable energy)

While the government sets the proportion of renewable energy within the total amount of power generated by electric companies under the RPS regulations, electric companies are required to purchase all of renewable energy generated under the FIT regulations.

After the Tohoku Earthquake, the Japanese government decided to enforce the FIT regulations, however no price has been set. According to the Japanese electric companies, they have to make an enormous investment in electric transmission systems since solar power is affected by weather conditions. This is to avoid the termination of supply, giving the highest priority to the stable supply of electricity.

In the state of Texas in the U.S., the RPS regulations are in place. The state is obliged to manage 5% of its entire electricity with renewable energy. In addition to various electric companies who handle wind, solar and nuclear power, there are 2 electric transmission companies in Texas. Sales price of the electricity is usually determined by the transmission companies who supply the power to households and factories (market based liberalization).

In California, there was a massive blackout in 2001 which lasted for a month. This was due to the fact that the state government could not control the electricity transmission companies, which caused the reduction in electricity price. As a result, the business conditions of the transmission companies worsened, and some of them resulted in bankruptcy. This is an example of the failure to provide the stable supply. It is difficult to simultaneously manage the stable supply and the liberalization of prices. In Japan, both Tokyo and Kansai Electric put their first priority to secure the stability in their supply and oppose the liberalization of prices, however there are a number of countries where price liberalization is performed.

At this point, 90 minutes passed. Based on the contents of today’s lecture, it is expected that pros and cons of the nuclear power will be discussed during the following class in 2 weeks time.

Interview with a student

Student’s name: Mr. Matthiew Jones; Nationality: British

Q: What is the atmosphere of the class?
A: It is very good and lively, and as a result sometimes discussions start spontaneously. When we have the discussion-focused class such as the class to be held in 2 weeks time, it gets more energetic compared to the lecture-centered class like today. We change the desk layout to an oval shape, which encourages friendly atmosphere for more comfortable communication.

Q: Please tell us what you have learnt throughout this class and any perspectives you have discovered.
A: Today I was able to find out about the approaches towards renewable energy, as well as the power supply system in different countries. It is always refreshing to learn what types of approaches are being taken in countries other than my own.

Q: What is your field of research?
A: I study climate changes and cultural heritage preservation by linking them together. In particular, I do a research on the preservation of Itsukushima Shinto Shrine in Japan.

Q: How do you want to apply what you have learnt in the class?
A: As we are building up practical studies such as environmental monitoring and field researches, I would like to use the knowledge I obtained here as a tool which becomes quickly useful in the near future.

Q: What would you like to do in the future?
A: I am planning to move my base to the U.K. I would like to bring back the knowledge I have acquired throughout the activity of Japanese cultural heritage protection, and would like to apply it to the same activity back in the U.K.