(Mainichi: March 31, 2015 – p. 1)
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) presented its view to the ministry’s expert panel on March 30 that nuclear power generation should constitute over 20% of all the electricity generated in 2030. The government takes the stance that the ratio of “base load power sources” such as nuclear, hydroelectric, and coal-fired power that can constantly generate electricity regardless of the time of day should be maintained at around 60%. METI’s provisional calculation means that the ratio of the base load power sources excluding nuclear power will be below 40% at maximum. METI cited reduced electricity rates and less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as the merits of nuclear power generation. However, many people expressed the view that “METI is discussing the matter with the same mindset as before the Fukushima nuclear accident,” warning against reverting to nuclear power generation without careful consideration.
Base load power sources are defined as sources with inexpensive fuel costs that can constantly supply electricity regardless of the time of day. In the Basic Energy Plan formulated last year, the government referred to nuclear, hydroelectric, coal-fired, and geothermal power as base load power sources and said, “Maintaining electric power that is comparable with international standards is important.”
The ratio of the base load power sources has been maintained at around 60% since the late 1990s but it dropped to less than 40% following the shutdown of nuclear power plants after the Fukushima nuclear accident. As for base load power sources other than nuclear power, coal-fired power generation is projected to supply around 28.6% in 2030 if it is maintained at the current level. Hydroelectric power has been projected to supply 9.5% at maximum and geothermal is expected to provide 1% at maximum. Taking global warming countermeasures into consideration, coal-fired power generation is not expected to increase.
These figures for the base load power sources other than nuclear power add up to a maximum of 39% for 2030, which means that nuclear power will have to make up at least 21% of the nation’s electricity production in order to maintain a ratio of 60% for base load power sources.