Thursday, 31 May 2012

Japan eyes smaller nuclear role but no exit strategy
25 May 2012

  • Lack of 2050 target would be victory for nuclear power industry
  • Fifteen% atomic energy by 2030 seen likely compromise
  • Summer showdown seen critical for long-term policy

TOKYO, May 25 (Reuters) - Japan is leaning toward a policy of halving nuclear power's share of electricity supply from pre-Fukushima levels to about 15% by 2030, but will likely stop short of pledging the long-term exit strategy that many voters favour, experts said. That would be a victory of sorts for a nuclear industry that has been under fire since a huge earthquake and tsunami devasted the Fukushima atomic plant in March 2011, triggering meltdowns in the world's worst radiation accident in a quarter century.

With discussions on shaping future energy policy extending over months, the government has already pledged to reduce the role of nuclear power and in principle to decommission reactors after they have been running for 40 years. That formula would yield a share of around 15% by 2030 if strictly followed. "It is government policy to set the limit on nuclear reactors' operation at 40 years," Goshi Hosono, the minister in charge of the nuclear crisis, told reporters on Friday. "Fifteen% (by 2030) would be in line with that," Kyodo news agency quoted him as saying after a meeting of expert advisers to the government the night before.

Nuclear power provided about 30% of Japan's electricity needs before the Fukushima disaster, while a 2010 energy policy, ditched after the crisis, had set a target of more than 50% for 2030.

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