Japan's draft energy plan emphasizes the role of nuclear

16 December 2013

Nuclear power will continue to be utilized in Japan, according to the latest draft of Japan's basic energy plan.

"Nuclear energy is a key baseload power source and it will continue to be utilized to achieve stable and affordable energy supply and to combat global warming," the Strategic Policy Committee, Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy said in a draft of its position on Japan's Basic Energy Plan.

The draft energy plan, released on 6 December 2013, looks at the energy supply and demand over a period of around 20 years. The government is expected to finalize the plan in January 2014, according to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, Inc (JAIF).

Future nuclear share remains unclear

The degree of dependence on nuclear power will be reduced as much as possible

It is not yet clear what percentage of Japan's future electricity will come from nuclear power. The current position is that that the degree of dependence on nuclear power will be reduced "as much as possible," through various measures including energy conservation, adoption of renewable energies and improvements in thermal power generation, according to a translation of the position paper released by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, Inc (JAIF) on 13 December.

The scale of future nuclear generation will not only take into account Japan's energy needs and environmental commitments, but also its goal to maintain expertise in nuclear technology and skills.

Prior to the Fukushima disaster in 2011, around 30% of Japan's energy needs were met by nuclear power. The 2010 energy plan aimed to boost reliance on nuclear power to around 50% by 2030.

Fukushima recovery is top priority

The plan states that activities towards restoration and reconstruction at the Fukushima Daiichi site will be the "first priority," according to JAIF.

It said that contaminated water issues and decommissioning present "unprecedented challenges," and noted that the government plans to leverage domestic and international expertise to implement preventive activities at the site.

The government also said it will do "its utmost" to alleviate public concerns about the restart of nuclear power plants whose safety is confirmed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). Currently all 50 of Japan's nuclear reactors remain offline, although 14 have filed requests with the regulator to restart.

Accident preparedness will be enhanced, and Japan will continue its pursuit for the world's highest levels of nuclear safety.

"Nuclear operators will develop risk management systems and implement objective, quantitative risk assessments," the JAIF paper said.

Effort towards ratification of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for nuclear damage will be accelerated, according to JAIF.


Photo: TEPCO filed to restart units 6&7 of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in September 2013 (Source: TEPCO)

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