Nuclear power in Japan: Essential for the Transition?


Nuclear power in Japan will need to be redeployed if the country is to meet its energy transition goals of carbon neutrality by 2050. This is what the Japanese Minister of the Economy, Mr. Kajiyama, has just declared, a few weeks after heavy snowfalls that caused fears of power cuts. Currently, only nine of Japan’s sixty nuclear reactors have been restarted since the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Nuclear power in Japan essential for carbon neutrality in 2050

Last month’s heavy snowfall led to fears of widespread power outages in Japan. This event showed, according to Minister Kajiyama, the need for the country to reverse its energy policy against nuclear power. It also confirms the theses of experts promoting nuclear power to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050.

88% of the energy in Japan comes from fossil fuels

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has promised the Japanese people carbon neutrality by 2050. Today, 88% of our energy supply comes from fossil fuels, almost all of which are imported. Japan must therefore make its energy transition to meet its environmental goals.

60% of electricity can, at best, be produced with RE

For Mr. Kajiyama, RE alone will not allow the country’s energy transition. He cites the lack of flat land for solar panels and the deep oceans that increase the cost of offshore wind. According to his ministry, it will be difficult to provide more than 60% of Japan’s needs from renewable energy.

Recalling the episode of heavy snowfall last month on the archipelago, which led to fears of power cuts, Kajiyama expressed his opinion in favor of a revision of the policy against nuclear power. They also confirm the theses of experts promoting nuclear power to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050.

Nuclear power for zero carbon energy

Carbon capture techniques are being studied to decarbonize future coal-fired power plants. However, these solutions are very costly and do not address the issues of supply and pollution emitted during coal mining. The country will therefore not be able to do without nuclear power, which emits far less greenhouse gases.

51 of Japan’s 60 nuclear reactors still shut down

The question the government is now asking is whether the public will accept a return to widespread nuclear power. This region is still deeply marked by the Fukushima accident which caused the displacement of tens of thousands of inhabitants and permanently polluted an entire region. At present, only nine of the sixty nuclear reactors shut down after the disaster have been restarted.

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