A new government proposal finalized on Monday sets down plans to cover 20-22% of Japan’s energy demands through nuclear sources by 2030.
The island country is preparing to launch a new energy policy, seeking to curb costs and promote the use of environmentally friendly sources of power. Despite early opposition from some of the members to what they feel is an over-dependence on nuclear power, a panel from the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy, a body affiliated with Japan’s industry ministry, agreed to endorse the proposal.
The panel was however unable to reach an agreement on the proposed energy mix at its previous meeting, on May 26. Some panel members issued a statement saying, “We can’t say for sure that this will reduce (Japan’s use of nuclear energy) as much as possible.”
In the wake of the tragic events that befell the country in 2011 it is not hard to understand the reluctance of the Japanese people to rely too heavily on nuclear energy. After the government’s attempt to completely rid of such power plants saw operating costs (a $112 billion trade deficit due to imports of coal and liquefied natural gas in 2013) and carbon emissions (7.4% increase in 2013 from 2010) rise dramatically, it became clear that its benefits and cost-effectiveness make splitting the atom one of the best choices in energy production for the country
The plan is to increase the ratio of nuclear energy from the current 1% to a maximum of 22%, and key to the plan is the assumption that Japan will extend the operational life of its nuclear reactors. The final proposal includes a newly added statement that the government will take full responsibility for restarting the now-idled reactors. Another objective is to have renewable energy play a much more central role in the grid: anywhere between 22 to 24% of the national power output by the 2030 deadline.
Part of the proposal states that the governing body will review the energy mix once every three years, allowing for the ratios to change. The government plans to seek public comment and to officially finalize it’s decision in July of this year.