The L.A. Times (and Daily Beast) reported today that the Japanese government announced "a dramatic turn in its energy policy Friday," vowing to free Japan from all nuclear-power reliance by the 2030s. The energy plan the government set forward phases out nuclear power plants and calls for investing close to $500 billion over the next twenty years to expand renewable sources like wind and solar power. This could be a real tipping point for the wide development of solar and wind power, when a major industrial nations finds it to be feasible to change to near-complete reliance on renewables!
Two caveats to note: Organizations like Greenpeace Japan are still concerned, despite the overwhelming public support in Japan for the change to reliance on renewables, that the government will give mere "lip service" to the plan now, to appease the public ahead of elections expected later this year. Also, in the shorter term, Japan will increase its reliance on fossil fuels, until enough wind and solar plants are built to meet power demands. Japan is currently the world's largest importer of liquefied natural gas, and it will increase its reliance on natural gas as it phases out nuclear energy.
But if the Japanese populace continue their pressure for this change, the government WILL spend that $500 billion. Once spent, then the renewables industry becomes the biggest special interest around, and will act to continue and expand its footprint. A benign circle effect. All that money being spend on renewables will also lead to major improvements in the technologies, another aspect of the benign circle.