Japan’s decision to end nuclear power is a pragmatic and political one that in effect has pushed nuclear closures out 25 years. "By announcing this policy, Japanese utilities are now better poised politically to restart reactors closed following Fukushima, and to subsequently reduce the adverse environmental and financial burdens that have resulted from the country’s increase in fossil fuels,” according to Chris Gadomski, Lead Analyst, Nuclear, Bloomberg New Energy Finance.“The future of the nuclear power industry does not lie within the Japanese market. Much more important markets are China, India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Announcements to turn-away from nuclear in these markets would be much more detrimental to the industry.”
“Given the seismic history of Japan, as well as its population density of 336 people per square kilometer, expanding a nuclear infrastructure there makes less sense than doing so in geologically stable areas with low population densities. Northern Alberta, for example, has 1.2 people per kilometer, plenty of inexpensive natural gas, and is geologically much more stable. Exporting its natural gas to Japan to displace its nuclear capacity makes more sense.”
“Decisions by both Japan and Germany to wind down their respective nuclear infrastructure pose a challenge to the renewable industry. How well these technologies can respond without higher electricity prices and without increasing GHG emissions from stand-by and back-up fossil technologies will be closely scrutinized by politicians and industry alike.”
“The nuclear industry paradigm is changing for developed economies. Instead of large nuclear reactors, utilities will be more interested in small modular reactors that incorporate passive safety features, can better withstand seismic events, and more easily integrate into a utility’s load with increasing shares of renewable technologies. The Japanese policy shift may in fact speed commercial development of innovative small nuclear reactors,” says Gadomski.
According to Greenpeace Energy Campaigner Richard George, “Japan’s decision to pull the plug on nuclear power is a major vote of no confidence from another of the world’s leading economies, following Germany’s phase-out decision last year. This is an historic blow to an industry already in decline and makes a British nuclear renaissance even less likely.
"With costs spiralling and investor confidence at an all-time low, the Government’s plans to put new nuclear power at the centre of UK energy policy make no sense and should be abandoned. Hard-pressed households and businesses can’t afford to subsidise the nuclear industry’s failures. The Coalition should instead be investing in clean renewable energy to drive sustainable growth and jobs in the UK,” he added.Courtesy Commodites Now (EconMatters author archive here)
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