Thursday, September 18, 2014

Japan Will Overhaul Plans for Nuclear Energy, Pursue Renewables, Prime Minister Says

TOKYO—As a result of the continuing nuclear emergency in Japan, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said May 10 that the country has no choice but to overhaul its national energy policy to one that sharply lessens its reliance on nuclear power and develops renewable energy at an accelerated pace.

Japan’s current energy policy seeks to raise the ratio of nuclear power in the total electricity mix to more than 50 percent, up from slightly less than 30 percent today. It also calls for renewable energy to make up 20 percent of the total energy mix, up from about 1 percent now.

“The accident means that this energy policy needs to be thoroughly reviewed,” Kan said at a news conference, referring to the disruption of reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after Japan was struck by an earthquake and tsunami March 11. “As part of this review, much higher safety needs to be secured for nuclear power. The other key energy source, natural and renewable energy needs to be developed and commercially promoted at an accelerated pace. This is what Japan needs and what I plan to pursue,” the prime minister said.

While it ramps up its renewable energy sector, however, Japan would have to burn more oil and natural gas to make up for the loss of planned energy from nuclear power.

Aid Request to Import More Oil, Gas

On May 10, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which operates Fukushima Daiichi, asked for government assistance, seeking 1 trillion yen ($12.4 billion) to import extra quantities of oil and natural gas to replenish electricity output lost by the accident. The requested funds would cover imports for this year…

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