Japan’s nuclear plan is bad news for LNG, coal – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – June 2, 2015)


LAUNCESTON, Australia, June 2 (Reuters) – The rise of China and India as energy importers has largely consigned Japan to the sidelines, but the world’s third-largest economy still exerts significant influence in some markets.

That’s why Japan’s long-term energy vision is too important to be ignored, given it is the world’s top importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), number three in coal and four in crude oil.

A consultative committee on Monday endorsed the government’s blueprint for the energy mix it hopes to achieve by 2030, with the proposal now open for public comment for a month ahead of a likely formal approval by the trade ministry mid-July.

While the proposal has attracted controversy over a plan for nuclear energy to generate 20-22 percent of the nation’s electricity, it’s also worth noting how it sees the rest of the generating mix.

Renewables are set at 22-24 percent, LNG at 27 percent and coal at 26 percent. This represents a decline in nuclear’s share of electricity generation from the 30 percent it held before the Fukushima disaster following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

But it does mean that the government plans to press ahead with the restart of nuclear reactors, which have all been closed in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown.

This is the big uncertain in the government’s plan, given the public opposition to nuclear power, despite the rise in power costs since the Fukushima incident.

What’s interesting to note is that the return of nuclear would appear mainly to be at the expense of burning crude and fuel oil for power generation.

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