Japanese Power Utilities to Launch Green Energy Fund

Japanese Power Utilities to Launch Green Energy Fund

Japan's electric power industry has unveiled a program that will allow customers to contribute to a wind and solar power promotion fund when they pay their electricity bill.

Under the plan, expected to be launched this autumn, electric power utilities will match their customers' contributions with equivalent donations of their own, a spokesman for the Federation of Electric Power Companies said in a Reuters report.

Although details have yet to be worked out, the fund will be used to subsidize wind and solar energy, considered an effective means of curbing carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

The Japanese government pledged in 1997 to trim emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide by an average of 6% in the 2008 to 2012 period from 1990 levels. The relatively high cost of renewable energy, however, is hindering its widespread use.

Japan's electric power industry has advocated nuclear power as the best means of cutting carbon dioxide emissions, but public opposition to new nuclear plants has escalated after a series of mishaps in recent years, including a chain reaction at a uranium processing plant last September that killed two workers.

The government, which is reviewing its nuclear policy, is widely expected to revise downward its target for the construction of new nuclear power plants.

Japan's 51 commercial nuclear reactors supply about a third of the country's electricity.