25 Mars 2015
March 25, 2015
Mar. 25, 2015 - Updated 06:12 UTC+1
A group of business leaders in Japan is proposing that nuclear power supply at least 20 percent of the country's energy needs by 2030.
The nuclear accident at Fukushima four years ago has prompted Japan to reconsider how it produces electricity.
Government officials, politicians and business leaders, as well as academics and civic groups, are working on the problem. They are trying to figure out what mix of energy sources could meet the country's needs.
Officials with the Japan Association of Corporate Executives say nuclear power will be needed as a base-load energy source for some time to come.
They say it's unlikely that renewable resources such as wind and solar power will supply more than 30 percent of energy needs by 2030.
They say Japan will probably have to rely on nuclear power for 20 percent or more of its energy needs.
Before the 2011 accident, nuclear power supplied 28 percent.
All of Japan's nuclear power plants are currently off line.
By KIYOHIDE INADA/ Staff Writer
An influential business organization called on the central government to maintain at least a 20-percent dependence on nuclear energy, citing expected limits on expanding the use of renewable energy sources.
Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) also proposed extending the operating life of nuclear reactors beyond the 40-year period set by the central government.
The organization’s recommendations on energy policy released on March 24 came as the government is discussing Japan’s “energy mix” for power generation. A key element of that mix is having nuclear energy account for between 15 and 25 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2030.
Keizai Doyukai urged the government “to set a minimum level of about 20 percent” as a “realistic” target for that year.
The proposal foresees continuing to use nuclear reactors beyond 2030 and calls on the central government to consider rebuilding reactors or constructing new ones.
The business group cited the limits of renewable energy sources and the benefits of nuclear energy for consumers and the economy.
Reflecting on the suspension of operations at nuclear power plants following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the proposal said, “We should not forget the serious effects on the daily lives of the people and economic activity brought about by increasing electricity rates.”
In 2011, Keizai Doyukai issued a proposal to reduce dependence on nuclear energy in the medium to long term by seeking out alternative renewable energy sources.
Teruo Asada, chairman of trading company Marubeni Corp. who also serves as chairman of Keizai Doyukai’s Committee for Environment and Energy, denied the business organization has switched its policy.
“We never said that the ultimate goal should be zero nuclear plants,” Asada said at a March 24 news conference. “The latest recommendations do not represent any change in our thinking.”