The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry told a panel of experts on March 30 that the ratio of nuclear power generation to the country’s total electricity production will exceed 20 percent in 2030.
The government takes the position that the ratio of so-called “base load power sources” such as nuclear, hydraulic, coal-fired and other power plants that can ensure stable supply throughout the day should be secured at around 60 percent. But according to preliminary calculations made by the industry ministry, the ratio of base load power sources other than nuclear power is presumed to fall below 40 percent at the most.
The industry ministry stressed that nuclear power can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower utility bills. But at the March 30 expert panel meeting, there was a flurry of opinion that Japan should not return to nuclear power easily, with some experts saying that the government was discussing the issue based on the same idea as that adopted before the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Base load power sources are power sources that can supply certain levels of electricity consistently throughout the day with low fuel costs. Under the basic energy plan worked out last year, the government positioned nuclear, hydraulic, coal-fired, and geothermal power as base load power sources, stating that it is important to secure energy on a level that is “not inferior” to those of other countries.
The ratio of Japan’s base load power sources had hovered at around 60 percent since the latter half of the 1990s, but it fell below 40 percent after the country’s nuclear plants went offline in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. As for base load power sources other than nuclear power, the industry ministry assumed the ratio of the coal-fired power source at 28.6 percent if its power generating capacity remained at the current level. The ministry had already said the ratio of the hydraulic power source would likely be 9.5 percent at the most and the geothermal power source at up to 1 percent. In light of measures to be taken against global warming in the future, it is hard to expect coal-fired power generation to be increased.
Therefore, the ratio of base load power sources other than nuclear power becomes 39 percent at most in 2030, and in order to secure the ratio of overall base load power sources at 60 percent, nuclear power has to account for at least 21 percent.