(Nikkei: March 31, 2015 – p.5)
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) presented on March 30 its view on the optimal energy mix for 2030 to secure 60% of the total power generation by nuclear, coal-burning, and hydroelectric power that can stably supply electricity. By reducing the dependency on electric power sources with high fuel purchasing cost such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and oil, the government aims to lower the electric charge. As there persistently remain voices of caution about utilizing nuclear power, METI plans to deliberate the ratio by bearing global warming countermeasures in mind.
METI presented the view at a meeting of the subcommittee for prospects of longtime energy demand and supply held on March 30. The subcommittee is under the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy (METI’s advisory panel) In the composition of electric power sources as of FY 2005 before the East Japan Great Earthquake, the ratio of the base load power sources such as nuclear, coal-burning, and hydroelectric power was over 60%, of which 31% was nuclear , 26% coal-burning, and 8% hydroelectric. Less than 40% was thermal power generation by LNG and oil.
On account of the shutdown of nuclear power plants following the disaster, the ratio of nuclear power generation dropped to 1% in FY 2013. With 30% of coal burning and 9% of hydroelectric power, the ratio of stable power sources was reduced to 40%. With the increase of electric power generation by oil, the electric charge for households rose by 20% and 30% for compared to the charges before the disaster.
Citing the ratios of the base load power sources of major countries such as France, Germany, the U.S., and China as exceeding 60%, METI presented its opinion that it is important to secure inexpensive and stable base load power sources at the level equal on par with international levels. 60% means that the ratio will return to the level before the disaster.
In the discussion on the optimal mix of the base load power sources for 2030, METI wants to set forth beforehand 60% as the ratio for the base load power source. According to METI’s provisional calculation that assumes the total electric power generation to be one trillion kilowatts as of 2030, hydroelectric and geothermal power will provide about 10%. Calculated roughly, the rest of 50% will be produced by coal-burning plants and nuclear power plants.
Electric power sources other than the base load power sources are thermal power generation by burning LNG and oil, as well as solar and wind power generation whose supply is unstable. Because of cost-related issues with these power sources, METI intends to hold the ratio of these sources at around 40%.
The optimal energy mix for 2030 will become the basis for the government to determine the target reduction amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions toward the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21). Although METI did not specify in the conference on that day, the ministry believes that nuclear power with few CO2 emissions will be needed to secure 15 to 25% of the total power generation.