KYODO NEWS, YOMIURI SHIMBUN, JIJI PRESS (Japan), BLOOMBERG
TOKYO – The Japanese government will abolish nuclear power in the 2030s under a new national energy policy.
In the wake of last year’s Fukushima disaster, the government was forced to create a new national energy strategy, as the current policy, which calls for increased reliance on nuclear power, is no longer tenable, reports Kyodo News press agency.
Before the official release Friday, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily was able to obtain a copy of the final draft document, which says, “The government will fulfill its responsibilities concerning nuclear nonproliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy with respect to the international community.” The strategy contains a commitment to discontinue all nuclear plants by the 2030s.
The draft says Japan will begin research on directly disposing of spent nuclear fuel, reports Kyodo News, suggesting a shift in the current policy of reprocessing all spent nuclear fuel and reusing the extracted plutonium and uranium as reactor fuel.
This appears to contradict the goal of ending nuclear power, writes the Yomiuri Shimbun. Without running nuclear reactors, the reprocessing of spent fuel to extract plutonium would be unnecessary.
Phasing out nuclear power will cost Japan more than 40 trillion yen ($500 billion), necessary to build a power grid around renewable energy. It also means Japan will fail to meet a target to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, reports Bloomberg.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman has voiced concern about Japan’s anticipated target of reducing its dependence on nuclear energy to zero in the 2030s, according to Jiji Press. Poneman said if Japan takes steps to achieve such a target, it could have unexpected effects on the United States and other parties concerned. If Japan, the world’s third-biggest economy, snaps up fuel, energy prices will be affected significantly, he said.