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Rethinking Japan’s Energy Security 8 Years After Fukushima

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Fukushima’s nuclear power plant, before the 2011 disaster.
 
March 21, 2019
To increase energy self-sufficiency after the 2011 nuclear disaster, renewables are Japan’s only option.
It’s been eight years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster. Since then, the utilization of nuclear energy, which accounted for more than one-tenth of Japan’s energy mix before 2011, has become a controversial issue in Japan. Japan thus started to face the severe challenge of energy security.
First, due to the shutdown of most nuclear power plants, Japan’s energy self-sufficiency rate plummeted from 20.2 percent in 2010 to 11.5 percent in 2011. Since then, the self-sufficiency rate has remained under 10 percent, which is extremely low compared to other countries.
Japan has significantly increased its energy imports from overseas. The reliance on foreign energy not only deteriorates the government budget deficit, but also brings increasing political risk. More than 80 percent of Japan’s imported oil comes from the Middle East. It is not easy to assure a stable supply of oil from those politically unstable countries.
Second, Japan is highly dependent on fossil energy compared to other advanced countries. Fossil energy accounted for 94 percent of Japan’s energy mix when the oil crisis happened in 1973. Since then Japan has made great efforts to reduce that share, which dropped to 81 percent in 2010. However, the degree of dependence on fossil energy rebounded to 89 percent in 2016, approaching the level at the time of oil shock. The increased use of fossil energy is meant to fill the gap caused by the suspension of nuclear energy. Japan now is extremely vulnerable to another oil shock as crude oil accounts for more than 40 percent of its energy source.
Third, the price of electricity in Japan has risen greatly due to the soaring energy cost. Electricity rates peaked in 2014, when rates for household increased by about 24 percent and those for industries increased by about 38 percent over rates in 2010. Although the cost is on a downward trend, rates of electricity for both households and industries remain over 10 percent higher than 2010 rates.
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March 25, 2019 - Posted by | Japan | ,

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