Japanese energy plan for 2030 “nuclear, nuclear, and coal” | WWF

Japanese energy plan for 2030 “nuclear, nuclear, and coal”

Posted on 27 April 2015    
Fossil fuels like coal should be phased out in a shift to renewable energy
(GLAND, Switzerland, 25 April 2015) – Japan will have to extend the lives of its nuclear reactors as well as rely heavily on coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, as its main sources of energy, which will result in a weak 17 per cent emissions reduction target (compared to 1990 levels) in its proposed new climate targets.
In terms of the UN climate negotiations process, all countries should submit their climate action targets and plans – aimed at reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions in the period from 2020 to 2025/2030 – ”well in advance of” COP21. These plans will form the basis of a new global climate deal to be agreed in December in Paris.
Naoyuki Yamagishi, leader of climate and energy policy for WWF Japan, says the government is finalising its plans and will announce the targets in the coming days, a precursor to a formal submission to the UN, probably in May or June.
“Ministers are crunching numbers for an energy mix plan for 2030 with discussions reaching the final phase. The plan seems to include 20 to 22 per cent nuclear even after the disastrous Fukushima accident. Such a share of nuclear cannot be achieved without extending the operation time of nuclear power from 40 years to 60 years.  This is out of the question considering people’s legitimate concerns towards nuclear energy in Japan,” he says.
The Japanese energy plan under discussion assumes the renewable energy share to be only 22 - 24 per cent by 2030, just slightly above the nuclear share, because renewable energy is allegedly “expensive and uncontrollable”.
“Japan also wants to keep coal at around 26 per cent of its energy mix because they intend to keep what it calls “base load generation” at more than 60 per cent. As a direct result, the Japanese emission reduction target for 2030 would be only 24 to 26 per cent compared to 2013 or 2005 (both year, emission levels were high).  This number is around 17 -18 per cent if compared to 1990 level,” he says.
There is a big risk that even this lowly target may not be met because of the energy plan backing it up.
“Japan has a history of depending almost solely on nuclear for CO2 reduction in the past and that didn’t go well.  While increasing the dependence on nuclear, Japan also built up new coal power stations.  The plan to depend on nuclear has failed, and Japan has added 27 GW from new coal power stations since 1990 resulting in Japan’s emission rising instead of falling.  And now Japan is going to make the same mistake,” he says.
“There is an additional 21 GW of new coal-fired power stations in the pipeline that will come into operation in the future. Considering that the majority of Japanese people would not accept the extension of old nuclear power plants to 60 years, this energy plan would most likely not be met, and would again result in an increase of Japanese emissions, caused by the newly built coal-fired power plants,” says Yamagishi.
“We have a serious concern that the current proposed plan also suppresses the potential of renewables,” he says. The plan proposes to only promote hydro, geothermal and biomass as “base load generation”, and not wind and solar because their generation capacities “vary and is not controllable”.
Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative says if the reports are true, it would be a blot on the copy book of a highly technological country which has the potential to do much more.
“The move to promote nuclear is of deep concern to us, especially when we read daily about the progress of clean, renewable energy in many countries. Renewables is the most viable option for energy and for sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Japan can be a great leader with its power and technology if only they can shift their mind set away from old “base load” thinking towards the new way of controlling variable energy,” she says.
“We urge the Japanese government to rethink their energy plan and come up with much higher share of renewable energy which can lead to an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target of more than 40% compared to 1990,” says Smith.
For Editors:
1. Globally, Japan ranks fifth in the world in terms of biggest CO2 emissions Japan ranks fifth in the world in terms of biggest CO2 emissions which means it has a huge responsibility and capacity to set the pace in the international climate negotiations. 
2. Read WWF Japan’s Energy Scenario proposal for decarbonising Japan (Energy Efficiency)
3. Read WWF Japan’s Energy Scenatio proposal for decarbonising Japan (100% Renewable Energy)
4. “Base load” is the minimum level of electricity demand required throughout the day.  There is no internationally agreed definition about base load generation.
For further information, contact:
Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za / @MandyJeanWoods  / +27 72 393 0027
Sam Smith ssmith@wwf.no  / @pandaclimate / +47 450 22 149
Naoyuki Yamagishi  yamagishi@wwf.or.jp / +81 90 6471 1432
Fossil fuels like coal should be phased out in a shift to renewable energy
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