Japanese government announces plans to ditch nuclear in favour of more renewable energy

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  By Bob Duncan
 
The Japanese government has announced it plans to phase out nuclear power by 2030 and increase its renewable output, in a major policy shift after last year’s Fukushima disaster.
 
The country’s attachment to nuclear power was severely weakened after the Fukushima accident sent radioactive materials into the ocean and atmosphere, contaminating the food and water supply, and forced the evacuation of 160,000 residents.

Before the Fukushima disaster, nuclear power supplied about a third of Japan’s energy needs and the government had planned to increase nuclear’s share of the energy mix to 50% by 2050, but the country now aims to increase the use of renewable energy as nuclear power is phased out.

Under proposals put forward by a government panel, the last of Japan’s reactors would be shut down completely by the year 2040.  The panel said Japan’s energy policy would be completely overhauled.

“Based on facing the reality of this grave accident and by learning lessons from the accident, the government has decided to review the national energy strategy from scratch,” a policy document said.

“One of the key pillars of the new strategy is to achieve a society that does not depend on nuclear energy as soon as possible.”

Responding to the news, Friends of the Earth’s Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton said:

“Fukushima reminded the world how risky nuclear power can be – Japan’s landmark move sends a strong signal to other nuclear powers.

“Britain should follow suit.  We’ve got a bounty of renewable energy at our fingertips that’s already falling in cost and which, together with energy saving and smart technologies, can meet our electricity needs.”

Japan follows Germany, Switzerland and Scotland in announcing their intention to be nuclear free.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, ordered half her country’s nuclear plants to be shut last year and pledged to replace the rest with renewable energy sources over the next decade.

The Scottish Government has refused to sanction any new nuclear plants being built in Scotland and is committed to generating the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s own electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020.

Japan’s plan would give it almost 20 more years to accomplish the same goal.

The Japanese Government plans to replace nuclear with a mix of more renewables and energy generated from importing oil, coal and gas.  Japan is already the world’s third-largest importer of crude oil, after the US and China.  The country is also the largest importer of thermal coal, on a par with China, and by far the biggest buyer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), a form of supercooled natural gas shipped in huge tankers.

However, the Japanese government intends to avoid adding to their energy bill by replacing as much as possible of the closed nuclear plants’ capacity with renewable energy production.

“A total exit from nuclear is positive for the economy, on balance,” said Andrew Dewit, a professor at Rikkyo University who studies energy policy.

“It incentivises Japan’s political economy to focus on efficiency and renewables. Japan lags in both these areas and they offer the greatest opportunities for growth.”

In abandoning atomic power, Japan aims to raise the share of renewable power to 30 percent of its energy mix but will remain a top importer of oil, coal and gas for the foreseeable future.  Renewable energy, excluding hydro-electric dams, currently accounts for a slim 1 percent of Japan’s electricity supply.

The new strategy also calls for a push to reduce energy consumption through efficiency and other measures to at least 10 percent less than 2010 levels.

The SNP’s Energy and Climate Change spokesperson, Mike Weir MP said:

“The world is waking up to the massive safety risks presented by nuclear energy as Japan becomes the latest country to announce its intention to go nuclear free.

“The Scottish Government has already ruled out any new nuclear power stations in Scotland and it is time the UK Government followed Scotland and Germany’s lead.

“Scotland is well placed to lead this global renewable energy revolution with our huge natural advantage. Scotland has the capacity to generate a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal power and a tenth of the Continent’s wave energy. Realising that potential will be a priority for the SNP Scottish Government.

“The SNP have already made a commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2020. By achieving this ambitious target, we can secure Scotland’s power supply and create 130,000 jobs in the renewable and low carbon sector.

“A reindustrialised Scotland can lead the world’s renewables revolution.”

The UK government is already planning to build new nuclear plants in order to meet the energy shortfall south of the border.  However French giant EDF, who are pivotal in the construction plans have insisted on price guarantees that would mean household bills increasing across the UK.

The demands by EDF, who are insisting on £140 per MegaWatt hour, are over 50% higher than the current prodcution costs of onshore wind which currently stands at between £80 – £95 for the same energy.

20 COMMENTS

  1. It’s good news to hear that another country is adopting renewables and clean energy.

    However, the nuclear camp will no doubt peddle the argument that Fukushima was,if not the oldest, certainly one of the oldest in Japan and therefore just highlights the case for new power stations.

    Anyway, hopefully this may be a great opportunity for our countries to link and for us to share some of our initiatives – I hope AS is booking a flight as we speak.

  2. [url=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2188017/Radiation-Fukushima-nuclear-power-plant-meltdown-triggers-genetic-mutations-butterflies.html]Radiation from Fukushima power plant meltdown ‘triggers genetic mutations in butterflies'[/url]

    [quote]Butterflies in Japan are suffering from ‘serious abnormality’ following the radioactive fallout after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

    Scientists found unusually small wings and mutations in the legs and antennae of insects collected in May last year, two months after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck.

    The radiation exposure harmed their genes and the damage could be passed on to future generations, according the journal Scientific Reports.[/quote]

  3. Just shows how out of touch David Cameron and his coalition partners are, not only with the public but also many world leaders who have looked at the risks to their citizens along with the massive costs of building, running and decommissioning at the end of their production.. There is no longer a viable case for nuclear power but as per usual Cameron will ignore the arguments and impliment his and his band of rogues policies.
    remember his promise to be the “greenest government ever”. Sounds a bit shallow now

  4. OT

    The most respected politician south of the border is… Drum roll…. Fanfare… Canned laughter… ‘[b]BoJo the clown[/b]’, and I am not making it up, followed by Thatcher as a distant second.

    [url]http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/sep/14/boris-johnson-most-respected-politician[/url]

    Now all we need is a burst of ‘God save the Queen’ from the orchestra as the Titanic flounders.

    • The mind boggles, this must cause despair in England, but it will give great hope to our own clowns Lamont, Davidson and Rennie.

      ps R_O, no one could make it up.

  5. Other OT, sorry, it’s Catalonia again.

    After threats from the central government following a speech intimating Catalonia will either be given full fiscal autonomy or will initiate moves to form its own state, the Catalan President has just declared:

    “The Constitution and the laws are important, but what about the people? And their voice? And democracy? And their votes? Are these not important too?”.

    Gulp.

  6. Sooooo two of the worlds great manufacturing nations have sworn off nuclear energy production/consumption and Westminster……………

  7. Mmmm interesting move from Japan. I wonder if this could be the start of a move to hydrogen power for them?

  8. As you see more countries who have invested heavily in Nuclear power coming to the conclusion it isn’t the way forward, I have to pinch myself thay my own country has had the foresight to invest so heavily in the research and development of renewables.
    Keep going Scotland, more of the same please. The lynchpin of the nuclear argument is not having any suitable alternatives, the very alternatives which Scotland is pioneering. When sanity prevails, I hope and expect it’ll be on the back of Scottish technology.

  9. We need to get seriously more active on Tidal Turbines, Clean Coal, waste2tricity and fuel cells .. Korea and now Japan are screaming for the latter, AFC Energy look set for a mighty lunge!
    Lets not get left behind in the rush!

  10. Two things arise from this – one from the article and one more from the posts.

    We have to persuade the Westminster incompetents to abandon nuclear. We can be nuclear free up here, but it is not going to help us if one of their plants goes ape down there. Look what happened to agriculture in Wales and Scotland after Chernobyl.

    The other thing is: doesn’t it just demonstrate how much we need our own parliament when you see the difference in politics between Scotland and England after [b]#Roll_On_2011’s [/b] poll results on BoJo. Are they all mad down there!

  11. OT
    Mentioned on Political Betting tonight is a report from the paywall – Sunday Times, I guess.
    “THE Faslane nuclear submarine base could become an English enclave in the middle of Scotland if the country becomes independent.

    To guarantee security and ensure that a radical Scottish government did not order the submarines out before an alternative was available, MPs have been told it might be necessary to separate Faslane, north of the Clyde, and turn it into sovereign territory belonging to the remains of the UK.”

    No attribution given to the quote.

  12. [b]clochoderic[/b]
    Sounds like something from Ian Davidson,s committee .
    They are also suggesting that dounreay will have to remain part of the r.u.k after Scottish Independence .
    They are getting desperate you know .

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