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Japan is bringing back nuclear power as a key energy source, looking to protect its energy security in the crisis that has led to surging fossil fuel prices.
The Japanese government confirmed on Friday a new policy for nuclear energy, which the country had mostly abandoned since the Fukushima disaster in 2011.
A panel of experts under the Japanese Ministry of Industry decided that Japan would allow the development of new nuclear reactors and allow available reactors to operate after the current limit of 60 years.
Japan, which had vowed to reduce nuclear power as a source of electricity in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, is now considering using nuclear power for longer. In a major U-turn in August, the Japanese government said it wanted to restart more nuclear plants that were idled after Fukushima and is interested in developing small nuclear reactor technology amid an energy crisis that has led to calls on consumers to conserve energy this summer.
Nuclear power has been an essential part of Japan’s energy mix because of the country’s resource scarcity, which has made it highly dependent on imported fossil fuels. Yet the Fukushima disaster in 2011 turned public opinion strongly against nuclear, and the tide is only now turning again—this time in favor of nuclear.
Per information from the International Energy Agency (IEA), Japan relies on fossil fuels for 88 percent of its primary energy supply, which makes it one of the most fossil fuel-dependent members of the organization
Faced with an unprecedented energy crisis, Western governments are rethinking their long-held positions on the role of nuclear power generation, setting the stage for what could be the biggest energy source ‘comeback’ story of recent times.
Support for nuclear has grown in recent months as policymakers see nuclear energy as an alternative to the most expensive gas countries have ever paid to import, and as a zero-emission electricity source that would help keep climate ambitions and targets alive.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.
That is why Japan, which had vowed to reduce nuclear power as a source of electricity in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, is now bringing back energy power as a key energy source and would be allowing the development of new nuclear reactors as well as extending the current limit of available reactors to operate beyond 60 years.
Japan’s U-turn on nuclear energy is being driven by the rising prices of fossil fuels particularly that it is dependent on fossil fuels for 88% of its primary energy needs and the fact that renewables can’t on their own satisfy the country’s energy demand because of their intermittent nature.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Global Energy Expert