Monday, May 7, 2012

With no nuke reactors in operation, Japan struggles to chart new energy strategy

As Japan no longer has any operating commercial nuclear reactors following the halt of its last commercial nuclear reactor on the night of May 5, the reality in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster symbolizes a major turning point in the nation's energy policy.

The government, citing a possible summertime power shortage, is trying to restart the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture, while exploring the feasibility of ending Japan's reliance on nuclear power in the long run.

But the government has yet to chart a course toward a future nuclear energy strategy because it is uncertain if Japan will follow in the footsteps of Germany and graduate from atomic energy or how it will find alternative sources of energy to replace nuclear power.

The basic policy panel of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy, an advisory body to the economy, trade and industry minister, has held debate on a review of Japan's current energy plan since April. Members of the panel have been divided over a ratio of nuclear power in relation to the nation's total power generation in 2030. Under the energy plan mapped out in June 2010, the government had proposed building more than 14 new reactors and raising the share of nuclear power in relation to total domestic power generation to 53 percent by 2030. Read More