Japan’s Last Nuclear Plant

Following the disaster at Fukushima last year, Japan has now closed down its last nuclear power plant, which would have been unimaginable earlier in a country that is one of those that rely most on this type of power source. The plans are to re-start them after the summer after strict stress tests but this is now the opportunity for Japan to get away from nuclear energy.

Due to the decision of shutting down all 54 nuclear plants, which gave 30 per cent of all electricity, imports of fossil fuels like gas and oil have increased by 100 per cent compared to last year, with 18 per cent more imported liquified natural gas. Also, power cuts are expected to be regular throughout the summer and so the government has asked people and companies to save energy wherever they can – having set a target of a 15 per cent saving.

Renewables like wind, solar and geothermal energy sources are currently only 1 per cent in the overall energy mix, and even including hydroelectricity it only adds up to ten per cent.

Greenpeace has compiled a report with three suggested scenarios for the country on how to lower or completely eliminate the reliance on nuclear power. They urge first of all the improvement of energy efficiency and the implementation of various policies, like differing prices for peak periods, strict efficiency standards, cap-and-trade emissions trading, labelling and feed-in tariffs. Besides these the accelerated development of photovoltaic schemes and wind energy systems, as well as the improvement of the electricity grid shall be emphasised – with the potential introduction of a smart grid. According to Greenpeace further focus should also be put on the spread on electric vehicles and combined heat and power generation (CHP).
Greenpeace’s scenario could also help at lowering carbon-dioxide emissions, which currently will increase due to the enhanced use of fossil fuels. Thus Japan would not have to re-consider climate change and emissions-related treaties and agreements signed earlier.

Global law firm White & Case has also released a customer alert on the potentially good opportunities in the Japanese renewable sector in the summer, when the Renewable Energy Act will come into force. This Act offers higher-than-market rates for feed-in tariffs for solar, wind and geothermal energy although according to some analysts other regulations have to be changed (e.g. land use in national parks for geothermal developments) to be successful. Furthermore, the exact rate will only be set on 1st July, 2012, from when the law will be binding.

If utilising this great opportunity and introducing appropriate regulations, Japan may become the first truly renewable energy power in the world.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image from BBC

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: