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Japan on mid- and long-term energy policy

June 30, 2012


Gov't energy council sets 3 options for energy and anti-global warming policy



The government's Energy and Environment Council has worked out three scenarios for mid- and long-term energy and anti-global warming policy in 2030.

Scenario 1 calls for total abolition of nuclear power stations by 2030, while under scenarios 2 and 3 the ratio of atomic power to total power consumption in Japan would be lowered to 15 percent and 20-25 percent, respectively.

The panel's proposal states that under scenario 1, all the spent nuclear fuel would be buried. If Japan retains nuclear plants, spent nuclear fuel would be reprocessed or disposed of. In addition to reprocessing the total volume of such radioactive waste under the current policy, the proposal leaves the possibility of fully disposing of it or reprocessing some spent fuel while dumping the reminder.

However, the panel's proposal would not allow the public a direct say in how spent fuel would be dealt with if Japan maintains some nuclear power generation, leaving the decision to the government.

At the request of the panel, the Cabinet Office's Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) reviewed the nuclear fuel recycling project in light of the government's commitment to reduce dependence on nuclear power, made after the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

JAEC has recommended that some spend nuclear fuel be recycled and the remainder disposed of if scenario 2 is adopted.

However, the Energy and Environment Council neither incorporated this view in its latest proposal nor ruled out the possibility that all radioactive waste will be recycled.

State Minister for National Policy Motohisa Furukawa told a news conference, "The government will release its nuclear fuel recycling policy when it determines the ratio of atomic power" to be retained.

Regarding power sources, Japan would temporarily rely on nuclear stations to make up for a shortage of electric power in the short term, even if Japan rids itself of atomic power by 2030.

The ratio of renewable energy sources such as hydraulic power to the total power consumption would be increased from 10 percent in 2010 to 35 percent by 2030, and thermal power plants would make up for any shortage.

Under scenario 2, no nuclear plants would be set up and all reactors would be decommissioned after 40 years in operation. If scenario 3 is adopted, new nuclear power stations would have to be built or some existing reactors would be replaced.

By 2030, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions would decrease 23 percent from 1990 levels under scenarios 1 and 2, and 25 percent under scenario 3. By 2020, greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by 0 to 11 percent, forcing Japan to retract its pledge to the international community that it would slash such emissions by 25 percent by that year.

The panel estimated that Japan is required to invest 80 to 100 trillion yen in energy saving measures by 2030, increasing monthly household electricity bills by 2,000 to 11,000 yen by that time.


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