Japan reconsiders energy policy

12 May 2011

Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan says that Japan will re-evaluate its plans to achieve more than half of its energy from nuclear power by 2030. Although nuclear will remain a ‘pillar’ in Japan’s electricity supply, there will now be additional focus on renewables and efficiency.

Kan said: “In the past energy policy has regarded nuclear energy and fossil fuels as two major pillars in electricity. With the recent accidents, I think two additional pillars are important.

“The first additional pillar is to add renewable energy, such as solar and wind power as well as biomass, to one of the core energy resources.

“The second additional pillar is to create an energy-saving society where energy will not be used as much as it is now.”

Meanwhile, Kan said that Japan was preparing to launch a committee to investigate the cause of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. He said that the committee would be based on three principles: ‘independence’, ‘openness’ and ‘comprehensiveness’.

The committee will be independent of the existing nuclear energy administration. It will publish its findings for the public and the international community and will investigate the existing systems and structure of institutions, as well as addressing the technical aspects of the accident.

According to a recent report from the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, the resource-poor country is dependent on imports for 96% of its primary energy supply. Even if nuclear energy is included in domestic energy, dependency is still at 82%. Oil currently accounts for about 50% of Japan’s primary energy supply, and nearly 90% of imported oil comes from the politically unstable Middle East.

FERC Japan says that according to the Long-Term Electric Power Facilities Development Plan, by fiscal 2019, electric power companies will develop power generation facilities with a total capacity of 29.4GW, 44% (12.9GW) of which will be accounted for by nuclear power. In light of the prime ministers 10 May announcement, the small share coming from ‘new energy’ will likely change significantly.

Source: Electricity Review Japan 2011, The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan

Kan says he would like to accelerate the discussion on reviewing Japan’s overall energy policy.

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