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Draft revision of Japan’s Basic Energy Plan does not call for new nuclear power reactors.

Japan’s nuclear energy policy at crossroads , Japan News    June 23, 2018, By Koichi Kuranuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Writer The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry has compiled a draft revision of the nation’s Basic Energy Plan. The revised plan will serve as the new guidelines for long-term energy policies. In the plan, nuclear power is defined as “an important mainstay energy source,” but the plan does not specifically call for construction of new and additional nuclear power reactors.

If the situation is left as it is, Japan will move slowly toward zero nuclear energy over the long term. How can the people’s understanding of nuclear power deepen? Japan’s nuclear power policy is at a crossroads.

Mainstay energy source

The draft revision of the Basic Energy Plan presented on May 16 laid out a policy aiming to make solar power and other renewable energy the nation’s key energy sources. At the same time, it also listed technical issues such as fluctuations in energy output according to weather conditions and time of day……..

Growing costs

However, major power companies have to overcome high hurdles to independently build new plants or replace current reactors with new ones.

The total cost of Hitachi, Ltd.’s nuclear power business in Britain has ballooned to more than ¥3 trillion with two reactors. The project is likely to receive financial support from the British government, but negotiations are still under way for the prices of electricity the government guarantees to purchase, and no final conclusion has been reached.

The cost of building the Nos. 6 and 7 reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, which began operating in the 1990s, was about ¥400 billion per reactor. TEPCO was a blue chip company before its nuclear accident in 2011, and it was able to procure low-interest funding. Its interest burden for the construction funds of the reactors was only ¥10 billion in total.

However, the situation has changed completely since the nuclear accident. Nuclear safety standards have been ramped up worldwide, and construction costs have soared. TEPCO has spent a total of ¥700 billion on safety measures for the Nos. 6 and 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Even if companies build new plants at tremendous cost, a good return on the investment seems unlikely, and it is difficult to procure funds.

……. Public resistance…….. Many residents in Niigata Prefecture are opposed to nuclear power. A local resident related to the electric power industry who supported Hanazumi said, “I feel that possible votes for him are sure to decrease if constituents see [Hanazumi as being linked to] the activities of electric power companies.”…… Not only those living in the vicinity of nuclear power plants, but Japanese citizens in general have negative views on nuclear power generation…….

June 25, 2018 - Posted by | Japan, politics

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