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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 June 3 - 9  > Japan’s energy plan should focus more on renewables than nuclear power
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2015 June 3 - 9 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Japan’s energy plan should focus more on renewables than nuclear power

June 4, 2015

Akahata editorial (excerpt)

A subcommittee of the government panel on Japan’s long-term outlook for energy supply and demand has drafted a report on the national energy mix in 2030 and started inviting public comment. According to the report, in Japan’s electricity supply in 2030, the share of electricity generated from nuclear power will be 20-22%, that from renewable energy sources (solar, wind, and others) will become 22-24%, and fossil fuel (mainly coals and LNG) will fill the remaining percentage.

Currently, no nuclear power station is operating in Japan, which causes no problem in power supply. In order to cover more than 20% of electricity supply with nuclear power, it will be necessary to resume operations of off-line nuclear power plants, extend the operating life-span of old reactors, and rehabilitate old and small facilities. This runs counter to the public demand for a Japan without nuclear power generation.

As reasons for the need to promote nuclear power, the government and utilities argue that it is a stable and inexpensive energy source. However, their argument lost credibility after the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP. This indicated that nuclear accidents will incur enormous costs in compensation for local residents, decontamination work, and decommissioning of the crippled reactors. Tokyo Electric Power Company is struggling to meet such costs. Given this situation, nuclear power cannot be regarded as inexpensive.

The government report insists that the output of renewables is largely affected by weather conditions and that an increase in the use of these energy sources requires huge investment costs, such as the cost for improving power grids. In Japan, solar and wind power generation now amounts to 7% and 1.7% of the total power supply respectively, much lower than many other countries. As technological advancement will lower the investment costs, concerns over an increase in the cost will no longer be a reason to refrain from turning to natural energy sources.

Japan has a high potential for renewables. The Kyushu region has a good amount of sunshine and is suitable for solar power generation, and the Hokkaido and Tohoku regions have a lot of areas suitable for highly productive wind farms. The need now is to achieve a departure from nuclear power and to promote renewable energy sources through public pressure.
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