Rethinking sustainable bioenergy development in Japan: decentralised system supported by local forestry biomass

Abstract

Bioenergy has been promoted in Japan with ambitious targets. However, the incentive schemes excluded renewable heat and overlooked synergies with local forest management, leading to the development of large-scale biomass plants that heavily rely on overseas biomass supplies. This case report discussed an alternative scenario of decentralised bioenergy systems supported with local biomass through five important questions. The currently available knowledge indicates that such a scenario is feasible with integrative forest management that considers both ecosystem services and multiple uses of wood. In addition to various environmental benefits, replacing imported fossil fuels with local biomass can also enhance energy security. Realising this scenario requires careful consideration of local context, empowerment of local governments and encouragement of both public and private initiatives.

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Fig. 1

[Modified based on Forest Resource Survey by MAFF (2018c) and National Forest Inventory by MAFF (2018e)]

Fig. 2

Modified based on NEDO (2011)

Fig. 3

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Acknowledgements

The first author was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant number JP 17F17776 to carry out this work. Presenters and participants of the workshop (on 28 June 2018 at UNU, Tokyo) that was purposely organised to discuss the questions posted in this paper are acknowledged for their valuable information and comments (see https://ias.unu.edu/en/news/news/bioenergy-workshop-2.html#info). We would like to especially thank Prof. Hideo Sakai and Dr. Mika Yoshida for their inputs in the beginning.

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Goh, C.S., Aikawa, T., Ahl, A. et al. Rethinking sustainable bioenergy development in Japan: decentralised system supported by local forestry biomass. Sustain Sci 15, 1461–1471 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-019-00734-4

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Keywords

  • Biomass
  • Bioenergy
  • Japan
  • Forest
  • Sustainability
  • Decentralised system