After 18 months of the Fukushima disaster, Japanese authorities remain undecided between the closure of all nuclear power plants by 2030 decade, and the survival of some of them. The Nuclear Lobby and the Japanese industry pressures have lead the Government to a lack of a clear policy on the nuclear shutdown. Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada said the government will respect three principles: No to the construction of new reactors except those already authorized, dismantling of those older than 40 years, and reactivation of the units that have passed the safety tests of the new Regulatory Commission.
What is clear is that the direct result of the shutdown of most nuclear reactors (30% of Japan’s energy formerly came from nuclear generation) has been an increased generation from thermal plants, which has resulted in increasing hydrocarbons imports, and therefore its trade balance.
The Government has acknowledged that “for the moment” it will be necessary to continue increasing the use of thermal energy to meet demand, which will affect the government”s environmental plan: Japan had set a target of reducing in 25% its CO2 emissions by 2020 compared to 2010, which now appears not to be viable. Thus, the plan approved suggests that the reduction will only be 20% and by 2030.
While the business lobby calls for a balanced energy policy where atomic energy survives within an energy mix, antinuclear groups are preparing a protest for next Friday. Since the disaster, antinuclear movement is gaining momentum and the majority of citizens, according to several surveys, prefer to keep plants closed, while a vast majority of the industry sector criticizes the cost that this will mean for the important business fabric of the country.
According to a government study released earlier this month, Japan would need to invest at least 50 billion yen (€ 495,000 million) in renewable energy by 2030 in case it intends to completely eliminate the country”s nuclear power plants.
The same report noted that, should an end be put to nuclear energy, households’ electricity bills would almost double by 2030 and an increase in renewable energy generation would be required from the 106,000 million kilowatt hours (kWh) in 2010 to 350,000 million kWh in 2030.