Japan Energy Plan Backs Nuclear Power Role

Japan Energy Plan Backs Nuclear Power RoleJapan Energy Plan Backs Nuclear Power Role

Japan released a draft of an updated energy policy on Wednesday, leaving its ideal mix of power sources for 2030 in line with targets set three years ago, despite criticism it places too much emphasis on the unpopular nuclear power.

The industry ministry draft said nuclear should account for 20-22% of power supply in 2030 and renewables 22-24%, in line with the trade ministry's goals set in 2015. Fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, account for the rest, Reuters reported.

Many experts view the nuclear target as difficult to achieve in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster that led to a big shift in public opinion after it exposed industry and regulator failings and led to the shutdown of all the country's reactors.

Nuclear plant restarts have been protracted and Japan's reliance on imported coal and natural gas has surged, raising costs for businesses and consumers.

In the financial year through March 2017, fossil fuels accounted for 83% of Japan's electricity, renewables 15% and nuclear just 2%. Only five of Japan's 40 commercially viable reactors are operating.

The 2030 plan also left the door open to building new nuclear plants to help meet long-term emissions targets to combat climate change.

Japan aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 26% from the 2013 levels by 2030 and by 80% by 2050, targets that informed the latest policy update.

Former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi recently said Japan should shift investment in nuclear to renewables, aiming to derive all of its future power from sources like solar and wind in his latest call to abandon nuclear power.

Opposition to nuclear along with use of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, has also come from within the government.

An energy taskforce advising Japan's foreign minister in February proposed boosting renewable energy and shifting away from coal-fired and nuclear power at home, arguing the country's policies are outdated and undermine its global competitiveness.

Cabinet is scheduled to approve the revised basic energy plan around July. The government revises its basic energy plan once every three to four years.

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