Forget Fukushima, Nuclear Still Key to Japan Energy Mix, Will Reopen All 48 Plants, Build More
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 27, 2014 1:29 PM EST
Japan has changed minds regarding its energy mix. While the former president has vowed to extinguish all nuclear power plants immediately after the March 2011 tsunami that crippled the Fukushima, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced he will reopen some of them, if not all.
A draft energy policy given to Japanese ministers early this week stipulated that "nuclear power is an important baseload electricity source," essentially confirming that it will just be a matter of time before all idled 48 nuclear power plants come roaring into life again.
"In principle, the direction has not changed," Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan's minister for trade and industry, said.
The draft energy policy said that the most reliable sources of electricity to meet the nation's growing energy needs would be a combination of nuclear energy, renewables and coal-burning fuel.
Ever since the country shut down all nuclear power plants three years ago, Japan's trade deficit had ballooned to $204billion between March 2011 and the end of 2013. Consumers had to pay more for electricity bills by more than 50 per cent as Japan massively imported oil and gas to support power supply requirements.
Moreover, Japan's electricity industry emitted more than double its carbon emissions during those three years.
Japan is highly dependent on nuclear power, with 30 per cent of all energy coming from nuclear plants.
Expected to be approved in March, the draft energy policy meant to reopen some if not all of the country's 48 commercial reactors as long as they pass the new safety requirements. If they pass, the country plans to build more plants.
In the next few months, the 30,000 Japanese residents of the 20km exclusion zone around Fukushima will be already allowed to return to their homes.
Despite Fukushima being dubbed as the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, really there is no stopping Japan and its nuclear appetite.
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