Ministers in Japan have approved a portion of a draft basic energy plan that calls for nuclear energy to be a key baseload power source as long as its safety can be assured.
The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (Jaif) said “adjustments” to the draft plan need to be made with coalition ruling parties, after which the full basic energy plan will be discussed and decided upon by the full Cabinet.
Jaif said the draft plan sees nuclear energy as “a quasi-domestic energy source” offering excellent supply stability and efficiency, along with low operational costs that barely fluctuate. Nuclear also emits no greenhouse gases in the process of generating energy, the draft plan says.
The draft plan, release by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, says nuclear must be developed with safety as a priority and with constant work on preparedness for emergency. Nuclear is an important power source that supports the stability of the energy supply and demand structure, the plan says.
Last month, Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe said in a policy speech that he wanted the country’s dependency on nuclear energy to be reduced “as much as possible” through the creation of an “advanced energy-saving society” and the maximum possible introduction of renewable energies.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority is working to speed up the restart of some of the nation’s offline nuclear reactors.
The NRA, an independent body created in 2012 in response to the March 2011 accident at Fukushima-Daiichi, said it would create “a priority list” of nuclear power stations which meet the earthquake and tsunami criteria as soon as next month, which will help move some nuclear facilities forward in the restart process.
Regulatory officials will compile reports on a handful of prioritised plants, which will then be handed off for public comment for an additional four weeks, a statement said. The NRA will also hold town hall meetings in local communities where plants are based to field any scientific and technical questions.
Japan has 50 commercial nuclear reactors, but only two, Kansai Electric Power Company’s Ohi-3 and Ohi-4, have been restarted since the Fukushima-Daiichi accident. They have since been taken offline for scheduled refuelling and maintenance
The NRA is in the process of reviewing reactors to confirm that they meet new nuclear safety standards, which came into force on 8 July 2013.