Japan Prepares New Non-nuclear Energy Plan

Members of the media and TEPCO employees walk down the steps of a fuel handling machine on the spent fuel pool inside the No.4 reactor building in FukushimaJapan is going to release an energy plan next year that shifts away from nuclear power but may lead to a greater dependence on coal-fired power plants.

The proposed change was predictable. Japanese individuals oppose nuclear power because of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Attempts by the pro-nuclear industry ministry to provide the country with more electricity from nuclear was criticized heavily by the Japanese. It is also true that only two of the 42 Japanese reactors operate following safety shutdowns. This poses aging unit and legal challenges.  Even so, the target of 10- 15 percent for nuclear by 2030 was changed following 20-22 percent.

There are some issues with relying on coal for power. While it is a cheaper option, countries around the world are attempting to avoid the use of coal. Renewable energy targets would potentially increase after a shift away from nuclear power and be viewed as growth in the energy sector.

The professor at Chalmers University of Technology located in Sweden commented, “There is a more realistic attitude toward nuclear power taking hold in Japan so it would not surprise me to see a significantly larger role for renewable energy in the next energy plan.”

Japan is unique compared to other countries in that it embraces its controversial position on building new coal capacity. Christ Littlecott, the Programme Leader at E3G, commented, “Coal power capacity is rapidly coming off the system in the UK and the USA… In the last six months the UK and Alberta have both announced coal phase out policies to enable a managed transition to clean electricity. This makes Japan’s defiant pursuit of new coal plants an increasingly isolated position.”

Japan wants to have 47 new coal-fired plants despite the high opposition. The exact date release of the new energy plan is undecided.

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