Japan is pivoting to more nuclear power — the IEA says it’s good news

This picture, from March 2022, reveals wind generators in entrance of the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station in Japan. The nation is now planning to use more nuclear power in the years forward.

Korekore | Istock | Getty Images

Japanese plans to pivot again to utilizing more nuclear power have been welcomed by the International Energy Agency, with considered one of the group’s administrators telling CNBC it represented “very good and encouraging news.”

On Wednesday, the prime minister of Japan stated his nation would restart more idled nuclear power crops and look into the feasibility of creating next-gen reactors. Fumio Kishida’s feedback, which had been reported by Reuters, construct upon remarks he made again in May.

They come at a time when Japan — a giant importer of vitality — is wanting to bolster its choices amid ongoing uncertainty in world vitality markets and the warfare between Russia and Ukraine.

Speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” Thursday morning, Keisuke Sadamori, who is director of the IEA’s workplace for vitality markets and safety, was optimistic about Japan’s technique.

“This is … very good and encouraging news both in terms of energy supply security and climate change mitigation,” he stated, including that Japan had been “burning a lot of fossil fuels in order to fill the gap from the lack of nuclear power since the Fukushima … accident.”

Fossil gasoline markets, particularly pure fuel markets, had been “very tight,” Sadamori defined, noting that this was particularly the case in Europe.

“This restart of the Japanese nuclear power plants would be good in terms of freeing up substantial amount[s] of LNG to the global market,” he stated.

Read more about vitality from CNBC Pro

Sadamori, who beforehand held positions in Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and was government assistant to a earlier Japanese prime minister in 2011, was requested about the timeframe for the development of latest nuclear crops.

The new builds, he replied, would take a very long time. “I understand that the announcement by … Prime Minister Kishida yesterday was focusing more on the new types of nuclear power plants, including SMRs — small modular reactors.”

“They’re still in, basically, a development stage, so … we need to accelerate those developments,” he added. The more important elements had been, he argued, the restart of present crops and the extension of present crops’ lifetime.

An enormous shift

If totally realized, the strikes being deliberate by Japan would symbolize a turnaround for the nation’s vitality coverage following 2011′s Fukushima catastrophe, when a robust earthquake and tsunami resulted in a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Given its latest historical past, the IEA’s Sadamori was requested about present public sentiment in Japan towards nuclear. “That’s the most difficult part,” he stated, including that the Japanese folks nonetheless had some issues about security.

Citing “difficult energy market situations” in addition to Japan’s “very tight electricity market,” Sadamori stated public sentiment in the nation was however “changing a little.”

“We are seeing more people supporting the restart of the nuclear power plants, based on … recent surveys by the major Japanese newspapers,” he added.

“So I consider that things are improving a bit, but I think that the … public, local acceptance issue still continues to be a very difficult part of the nuclear restart.”

The significance of public help is emphasised in an overview of Japan’s sixth Strategic Energy Plan. “Stable use of nuclear power will be promoted on the major premise that public trust in nuclear power should be gained and that safety should be secured,” it states.

Japan is concentrating on carbon neutrality by 2050. Under an “ambitious outlook,” its Strategic Energy Plan envisages renewables accounting for 36% to 38% of its power era combine in 2030, with nuclear accountable for 20% to 22%.

While Japan could also be refocusing its consideration on nuclear, the know-how is not favored by all.

Critics embody Greenpeace. “Nuclear power is touted as a solution to our energy problems, but in reality it’s complex and hugely expensive to build,” the environmental group’s web site states.

“It also creates huge amounts of hazardous waste,” it provides. “Renewable energy is cheaper and can be installed quickly. Together with battery storage, it can generate the power we need and slash our emissions.”

During his interview with CNBC, Sadamori was requested why specializing in renewable sources and directing funding towards such areas was much less viable for Japan than returning to nuclear.

The nation, he stated, had “very ambitious programs for the expansion of renewable sources.” These included photo voltaic photovoltaic and wind, particularly offshore wind.

While Europe had “massive” offshore wind assets, Japan was “less endowed with … good renewable sources in that respect.”

To this finish, nuclear power, particularly the lively use of present crops, needs to be “a very important part” of the technique to decrease emissions and obtain carbon neutrality by mid-century.


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