The Independent Assessment of Nuclear Developments in the World

Home > News > WNISR in the Media > Digital Journal (Canada): Japan approves new energy policy, reinstating (...)

Digital Journal (Canada): Japan approves new energy policy, reinstating nuclear power

Friday 11 April 2014

Japan approves new energy policy, reinstating nuclear power

Digital Journal, 11 April 2014

By Karen Graham

In a stunning reversal of previous government plans to mothball nuclear power plants, Japan’s cabinet on Friday approved the Basic Energy Plan, making it the first comprehensive energy policy since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown.
The plan may be too little too late for the country’s half-dead atomic energy industry, already burdened with losses estimated to be over $50 billion. Two energy companies asked for governmental help with capital last week.
While the new policy heralds the come-back of nuclear energy, the anti-nuclear opposition has been gaining support across the country, among the public and a number of political groups. Polls by several media groups have shown a large percentage of the public is against the reopening of Japan’s 50 nuclear power plants.

Plant operators have spent nearly $90 billion on replacement fossil fuels, with local media sources saying an additional $16 billion was spent on upgrades to meet new power plant guidelines. A survey done by Reuters has shown that as many as two-thirds of the country’s nuclear plants may have to remain closed because of the high cost involved in making upgrades, seismic activity or public opposition.
“It is essential to quickly recover a low-cost and stable power supply system by restarting reactors whose safety is confirmed,” Akio Mimura, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in a statement. The new plan points out it will cut Japan’s nuclear dependency as much as possible, but fails to set specific targets for each source.
Mycle Schneider, an independent energy consultant out of Paris, France was quoted as saying, "I think it is unavoidable that the Japanese utilities will write off most of their nuclear ’assets’ and move on."
The new Basic Energy Plan defines nuclear as an "important baseload power source" but does not define the amount of "nuclear" that would be needed to feed constant power to the grid to meet minimum power requirements. Schneider says, "Given the slim realistic prospects for a major nuclear share, the challenge will be flexibility and the whole baseload concept flies out of the window."


What They Say…

“The Report sets forth in painstaking detail the actual experience and achievements of nuclear energy around the world.”

Peter A. Bradford

Former commissioner
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
(in his foreword to the 2013 report)
“A vital public service... Uniquely independent, thorough, and timely assessment."

Amory B. Lovins

Chairman, Rocky Mountain Institute
“This annual publication has over 20 years evolved into the most reliable, strikingly original, comprehensive and penetrating assessment of the global nuclear industry.”

Praful Bidwai

Financial Chronicle
Delhi, India
"Amid the hype and PR, the smoke and mirrors, of the 'nuclear renaissance', the Status Report offers a hard-edged reality check."

Walt Patterson

Associate Fellow Chatham House
London, UK
“Fantastic piece of work. Must reading for any observer of nuclear energy."

Henri Sokolski

Executive Director Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
Washington DC, USA
“Reliable research based on cold, hard facts, unlike the hype and amnesia of industry sources.”

Scott Ludlam

“Félicitations pour la dernière édition du WNISR. Formidable comme d'habitude!”

Fulcieri Maltini

International Consultant Former Director of the Nuclear Safety Account, EBRD
“Thought-provoking as usual.”

Will Dalrymple

Editor Nuclear Engineering International
"The authoritative report on the status of nuclear power plants worldwide is the World Nuclear Industry Status Report."


Bangkok, Thailand
“Such an illuminating report.”

Sam Geall

Deputy Editor China Dialogue
London, UK
"An astounding collection of facts and figures, a myth-busting international overview… An eye-opening piece of work!"

R. Andreas Krämer

Chairman Ecologic Institute
Berlin, Germany
“I really appreciate you letting us excerpt your report! It’s incredibly well researched and comprehensive, so thank you!”

Stuart Luman

Associate Editor Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists