Japan has chosen a plan to increase the lifespan of its nuclear reactors, signaling a significant change in nuclear policy. The nation also has plans to upgrade outdated reactors and build new ones in light of the paucity of fuel in the world, the rising cost of gas and the requirement to lower its greenhouse gas emissions.
For a nation that had intended to progressively phase out nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in 2011, this is a huge shift.
According to the Financial Times, the public in Tokyo is reconsidering the restarting of its reactors due to the rising cost of energy and concern over blackouts. The 10-year plan for Japan’s updated nuclear strategy, developed by a government advisory council, would hasten the restart of the nation’s current nuclear reactors and extend their operational lives beyond 60 years. Additionally, it would create sophisticated nuclear reactors.
Energy Crisis Is a Possibility.
The panel’s roadmap made reference to the global rise in energy costs that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as reported by the Financial Times, for the first time since the 1973 oil crisis in the midst of a very difficult scenario. We were reminded of the vulnerability of the energy infrastructure in our nation, which puts our energy security at risk.
Eight more nuclear reactors have been restarted since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster when an earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant’s cooling system and power supply. According to the World Nuclear Association, two of Japan’s nuclear reactors were restarted in August and October of 2015 as a result of the disaster.
Before Fukushima, 54 nuclear reactors provided nearly one-third of Japan’s electricity requirements, according to the Financial Times. Nine of the reactors are currently operational, which has increased the nation’s reliance on natural gas, coal, and fuel oil. By 2050, Japan has pledged to have net zero carbon emissions.
The Japanese government has set a target for nuclear power to account for 20 to 22 percent of the nation’s energy supply by 2030 in the wake of Fukushima, according to The Associated Press. But following the accident in 2011, safety regulations were tightened. Only ten of the 27 reactor restart requests made by utility companies in the previous ten years has been granted.
For reactors that have been operational for 30 years, extensions would be permitted every ten years under a new plan developed by the Economy and Industry Ministry and approved by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority. Additionally, periods, when a reactor was offline, could be deducted from its operational life.
The Parliament Has Not yet Given Its Approval to The New Safety Inspection Regulations.
Takeo Kikkawa, an economist and energy specialist at the International University of Japan, expressed skepticism regarding the continued use of old reactors, claiming that the new policy would permit utility operators to continue using outmoded equipment instead of investing in modern advancements or renewable energy.
Naturally, we should strive to employ cutting-edge technology safely. Thus, prolonging the lives of reactors is a bad idea, according to Kikkawa, as quoted by the Associated Press.
The majority of Japan’s nuclear reactors are older than three decades, and four of them have been given permission to continue operating after operating for more than four decades. Currently online is one of the reactors, which is 40 years old.
Atomic energy now provides less than 7% of Japan’s total power. To achieve the government’s target of 20 to 22 percent nuclear electricity by 2030, approximately 27 reactors will be required. According to Kikkawa, who was quoted by the Financial Times, this is our final opportunity to move the delayed nuclear program forward in order to reach carbon neutrality for 2050.