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Prospects for renewable energy in Japan look good, future for nuclear power uncertain.

Japan looks to renewables; role of nuclear power elusive, Japan Today By Takaki Tominaga, TOKYO, 29 Oct 21,

Japan aims to increase its reliance on renewable energy in achieving net-zero emissions, but the role of nuclear power to be played toward that end appears to be elusive even in the government’s energy plan approved by the cabinet last week ahead of Sunday’s general election.

The plan outlines ways to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and cut greenhouse gas emissions 46 percent in fiscal 2030 from fiscal 2013 levels, an ambitious leap from the previous reduction target of 26 percent.

The government aims to have renewables account for 36 to 38 percent of Japan’s total power generation capacity in fiscal 2030, more than double the 18 percent recorded in fiscal 2019, while the percentage of fossil-fuel-fired thermal power has been slashed to 41 percent, down from 76 percent.

But the percentage for nuclear power remains unchanged at 20 to 22 percent from the previous plan, released in 2018………………

To achieve the 2030 emissions cut target, Maeda said nuclear power plants are necessary. However, Japanese political parties cannot agree on what to do with nuclear plants even though they agree on the country’s direction toward carbon neutrality.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said his Liberal Democratic Party will restart idled nuclear plants, providing they have adequate safety measures, in order to supply electricity stably and at a reasonable price.

In contrast, the major opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan pledges to abandon nuclear power as soon as possible and will not allow any new nuclear plants to be built.

The Democratic Party for the People, a smaller opposition party, has said it will restart nuclear plants that cleared safety rules but will not allow the construction of new ones.

Following the nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami, most of the nuclear plants in Japan remain offline under stricter safety regulations.

“Realistically, I think (Japan) cannot help but to heavily rely on nuclear and solar power to achieve that 2030 goal,” said Maeda, a former Foreign Ministry official.

He stressed nuclear should not be a long-term power supply given the tremendous amount of money needed in the event of an accident and falling renewable energy costs.

In the long run, energy experts have high expectations for offshore wind power.

“Producing large quantities of electricity from renewables requires a vast amount of space. Since Japan is a maritime nation with the world’s sixth-largest exclusive economic zone, it’s got to be offshore wind,” he said, adding floating turbines will hold the key.

Solar cells produced by Miyasaka, also a fellow at the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, are expected to contribute to improving the space problem for renewables if they overcome durability challenges and go into commercial mass production.

Miyasaka’s perovskite solar modules are thin, flexible, and light yet capable of generating high voltages compared with silicon photovoltaics, with their characteristics enabling them to be installed or applied on unconventional places, including low load-bearing roofs, windows and automobile bodies.

In the not too distant future, Miyasaka believes people will be able to generate power by perovskite solar modules on places such as balcony floors and car bodies, store it in batteries and then use it during the night.

In building such a society, Miyasaka said the reliance on nuclear power could be reduced soon rather than later because disaster-prone Japan faces higher risks than many other countries.

“It is time for us to seriously engage in finding ways to live without nuclear power plants,” he said.

October 30, 2021 - Posted by | ENERGY, Japan

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