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2014年9月19日 (金)

再生エネ普及 過大な料金負担は看過できぬ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Renewable energy use must not result in excessive financial burdens
再生エネ普及 過大な料金負担は看過できぬ

It is important for solar, wind and other renewable energy sources to be widely used at affordable rates, a task that must be completed without imposing an excessive financial burden on ordinary households and the corporate sector.
 太陽光や風力など再生可能エネルギーは、家計や企業への過大な負担を避け、無理なく普及させることが重要だ。

About two years have passed since the launch of the government-backed renewable energy purchase program. The number of power generation plans approved under the system has been increasing faster than expected.
 約2年前にスタートした再生エネ買い取り制度に基づく発電計画の認定が、予想を上回る勢いで増えている。

If all approved renewable energy production plans are put into action, the amount of electricity generated through such means will add up to 90 percent of the government’s numerical target. The government said it aims to make renewable energy account for more than 20 percent of the nation’s total electric output by the end of 2030.
 これまで認定された再生エネ発電がすべて稼働すれば、「2030年に全発電量の2割以上を賄う」とする政府目標の、9割を達成できる計算になる。

Under the government-initiated scheme, power from renewable sources will be bought at high prices over the three-year period following the start of the system, which is designed to encourage the use of renewable energy. Moreover, the program will ensure that renewable energy produced under each power generation plan is bought at prices set at the time when the plan is approved, with such a purchase mechanism to be kept in place for up to 20 years.
 制度導入当初の3年間は、再生エネの普及を促進するため、買い取り価格は高く設定されている。しかも、買い取りは最長20年間、認定時の価格で行われる。

This favorable mechanism appears to have set off a flood of applications for the purchase program from business operators seeking to obtain high-price energy purchase rights as soon as possible.
 このため、電気を高値で買い取ってもらう「権利」を早く確保しようとする事業者の申請が殺到したのだろう。

Though the spread of renewable energy is a welcome change, it must be remembered that the purchase cost is covered by money accrued from electricity bills paid by ordinary households and business corporations.
 再生エネの拡大は歓迎すべきだが、買い取りコストは家計や企業の支払う電気料金で賄われる事実も忘れてはならない。

According to one estimate, families and corporations will likely bear a renewable energy purchase cost of more than ¥38 trillion over the next 20 years, by paying electricity bills that include such additional charges.
 料金に上乗せされる形で、家計と企業が今後20年間に負担する買い取りコストは、総額38兆円に上るとの試算もある。

If renewable energy generation plans continue to be approved at a rapid pace, ordinary households and corporations will be forced to shoulder even an greater financial burden.
 今後もハイペースでの認定が続けば、負担はさらに増す。

The slow progress in restarting nuclear power plants has contributed to an increase in fuel expenses for thermal power generation. This has left electricity rates stuck at high levels.
 原発の再稼働が進まず、代替する火力発電の燃料費増大によって電気料金は高止まりしている。

Reexamine pricing

If the current situation goes unchecked, the renewable energy purchase program could impose an additional burden on ordinary families and corporations. This cannot be overlooked.
 再生エネ買い取りが、家計や企業の負担に追い打ちをかける事態は、看過できない。

If the government chooses to reduce purchase prices, it could lead to a last-minute rise in business operators submitting applications for the renewable energy purchase program. Therefore it may be worthwhile to temporarily stop examining and approving applications, and to consider whether it is necessary to adjust purchase prices to more appropriate levels.
 政府が買い取り価格の引き下げに動けば、「駆け込み申請」に拍車がかかる恐れもある。認定を一時停止したうえで、適正な価格への変更を検討してはどうか。

Another aspect of the current situation facing the renewable energy purchase scheme is the exceedingly large number of applications approved for solar power generation. This is partly attributable to the preferential prices at which electricity produced through solar power systems will be purchased. It is also much easier to maintain solar power generation systems than wind or geothermal power systems.
 再生エネのうち、太陽光発電の認定が突出して多いのも特徴だ。買い取り価格が有利なうえに、設備の整備も風力や地熱などより容易なためである。

However, one disadvantage of solar power generation is that its output can fluctuate widely according to the weather. Given this, it is important to achieve a proper balance in the overall composition of various renewable energy sources, including wind and geothermal power generation. Like solar power, wind power generation also varies, although at different times, while geothermal power generation is capable of steadily generating electricity.
 ただ、太陽光は天気によって発電量が大きく変動する欠点を抱えている。発電量が変わるタイミングの違う風力や、安定して電力を供給できる地熱も含め、多様な再生エネをバランスよく普及させることが求められる。

Another problem is that Hokkaido and the Tohoku district, both home to a large number of solar and wind power generation plans, lack the sufficient capability to transmit electricity from their regions to Tokyo and its neighboring areas, where a massive amount of electricity is consumed.
 太陽光や風力の発電計画が多い北海道や東北から、大消費地である首都圏に送電する能力が不足している問題もある。

If electric power corporations are required to foot the high costs of maintaining and upgrading their electrical transmission facilities, it may become another factor supporting the idea of an electricity rate hike.
 送電設備の増強にかかる多額のコストを電力会社が負担すれば、これも料金上昇の要因となる。

The question is the extent to which the public should be required to cover the rising financial burden that accompanies the widespread adoption of renewable energy. The government should closely listen to the opinions of consumers and business circles, and transform the renewable energy purchase program into a more realistic system.
 再生エネの普及に伴って増える国民負担は、どこまで許容できるか。政府は消費者や経済界の意見も十分聞き、より現実的な制度に改めるべきだ。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 18, 2014)Speech

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