Energy

The End Of Nuclear Power In Japan Is Bringing Back Coal

An analysis published Monday by Bloomberg states that coal power will become the largest source of electricity in Japan due to an effective ban on nuclear power.

Nuclear power provided 29 percent of Japan’s total power output before 2011, but will decline to 13.6 percent by 2023 and 1.2 percent by 2040, according to the report. Japan got 24 percent of its electricity from coal in 2010 and the country plans to get more than a third of its power from coal by 2040. Japan previously shut down all of its nuclear reactors in the aftermath of the 2011 magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which triggered the Fukushima disaster. The country has since transitioned away from nuclear power.

Prior to the disaster, Japan operated 54 nuclear power plants and the government planned to build enough reactors to provide 50 percent of the country’s electricity power. After the disaster, Japan pledged to effectivly abandon nuclear power by the 2030s, replacing it mostly with wind or solar power, causing the price of electricity to rise by 20 percent.

The transition to green energy hasn’t gone well and the country likely won’t meet its goals, according to the report. Japan remains a top importer of oil, coal and natural gas and the government estimated that importing fuel costs the country more than $40 billion annually. Japan’s current government sees a revival of nuclear power as critical to supporting economic growth and slowing an exodus of Japanese manufacturing to lower-cost countries, but has faced incredible pushback.

Electricity from new wind power is nearly four times as expensive as electricity from existing nuclear power plants, according to analysis from the Institute for Energy Research. The rising cost of the subsidies needed to make green energy work have been passed to ordinary Japanese rate-payers, triggering complaints that poor households are subsidizing the affluent.

Statistically, nuclear reactors are the safest form of generating power and are responsible for 1,889 times fewer deaths than the coal plants replacing them in Japan.

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