Japan eyeing more nuclear power plants
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Last Updated: Thursday, March 25, 2010, 21:01
Tokyo: Japan is considering plans to increase the number of nuclear power plants in the country as a measure to help combat global warming while accelerating efforts to secure energy resources abroad, the industry ministry said in a draft policy guideline.

The guideline for the next 20 years said the country should build eight new plants by 2020 and more by 2030.

Japan currently has 53 nuclear power plants.

It also said the operating rate of such plants must be raised to around 85 per cent by 2020 and to "the world's top level" by 2030.

Nuclear power generation in Japan has dropped in recent years, with the rate falling to 60 per cent in 2008, due to the temporary shutdown of a number of facilities for safety checks following revelations of flaws at some plants.

The draft was submitted to an advisory panel of experts working for Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Masayuki Naoshima. The panel will draw up details of the guideline before the Cabinet approves it as early as in June, the ministry said yesterday.

The government has set a goal of cutting Japan's carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.

The industry ministry has said that expanding the use of nuclear energy, which creates less carbon emissions than fossil fuels, is indispensable to achieving the goal. But some lawmakers and conservation groups oppose wider use of nuclear power, citing radioactive toxic waste that poses numerous disposal problems.

The draft also said it is an urgent task for Japan to access overseas energy resources, referring to securing concessions for oil fields and metal mines in other countries.

It said 38 per cent of the energy that Japan consumes is supplied through nuclear and other domestically generated power as well as through overseas energy projects in which Japan holds development rights.

The ministry aims to raise the "self-sufficiency ratio in a broader sense" to nearly 70 per cent by 2030.

Priority should also be placed on promoting the public use of clean and renewable energy, created through solar and wind power generation.

As for people's daily lives, the draft guideline said the government should encourage consumers to switch to energy-efficient appliances and hybrid and other environmentally friendly vehicles.

The ministry is aiming to halve carbon emissions by households and vehicles by 2030.


First Published: Thursday, March 25, 2010, 21:01

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