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Renewable energy to exceed nuclear power

  • 2015-04-06 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

(Nikkei: April 6, 2015 – p.1)


 With respect to “Best Mix,” the optimal composition of electric power sources as of 2030, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has begun coordination to set 21 to 22% as the ratio for nuclear power. The ratio for renewable energy such as solar power will exceed nuclear power with 23 to 25%. This way, the ministry will launch its stance to drastically reduce nuclear power from 28.6% observed before the East Japan Great Earthquake and to introduce renewable energy as much as possible.


 The composition of electric power sources will be deliberated in “the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy,” the METI’s advisory panel, and be determined within the month. This will be the first time since 1990 to set a ratio of renewable energy that exceeds nuclear power. With an eye toward the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) scheduled at the yearend, the government will make the composition of electric power sources as of 2030 the premise to set the target for reducing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2).


 In deciding the composition of electric power sources as of 2030, METI takes into consideration costs and environment and views over 20% of nuclear power as necessary. However, if the nuclear power ratio approaches 25%, new construction of nuclear plants or reconstruction of the existing plants within the sites would be necessary. As people’s uneasiness toward the safety of nuclear power generation is persistent, the ministry will not consider new construction at this moment.


 In response to Fukushima nuclear accident, the government restricts the operational duration of nuclear power generation up to 40 years in general. If domestic nuclear plants are to be decommissioned in 40 years, the nuclear power ratio would be around 15%, but if aging reactors pass the safety inspection by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an extension of up to 20 years would be authorized. The ministry expects that such an extension could raise the ratio to 21 to 22%.


 The ratio of renewable energy such as solar, wind, and geothermal power will be set at 23 to 25%, exceeding nuclear power. This is because these renewables emit little CO2 and are very safe. Of the 23 to 25%, hydroelectric, geothermal, and biomass will add up to over 10%. Solar and wind power will be less than 15% because if their ratio exceeds 15%, it will require costs to increase power transmission lines, which will be reflected in electricity fees paid by consumers.


 The ratio of thermal power generation will be in the mid-50% range. Coordination is underway to keep coal-fired power slightly below 30%, liquefied natural gas (LNG) at around 25%, and oil-fired power generation at less than 5%.

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