Can Japan Meet Its 2030 Nuclear Power Target?
Keywords:Japan, nuclear power, projections, international electrical interconnections
The 2010s marked a turning point in Japan’s nuclear power’s industry. In fiscal year 2010, nuclear power electricity generation stood at 288.2 terawatt-hours. In 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake triggered a tsunami and a major accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In 2014, nuclear power electricity generation eventually bottomed out at 0 terawatt-hour due to the temporary closures of all the reactors. In 2015, Japan’s Government advanced its landmark Long-term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook targeting nuclear power electricity generation to reach 216.8-231.7 terawatt-hours in fiscal year 2030 – granting a key role to this technology in terms of low carbon and stable domestic electricity supply. However, confronted to the challenges of meeting more stringent safety standards, many nuclear reactors have been permanently shut down, and future restarts are unclear. Given this scenario, this paper demonstrates that meeting Japan’s nuclear power 2030 target is unlikely. Furthermore, Japan has recently set a net zero greenhouse gas emission goal by 2050 making decarbonization of its electrical power generation, a future need. Although improvements in energy efficiency and greater deployment of renewable energies are two potential ways to overcome the shortfall, this paper discusses how proposed international electrical interconnections may serve as efficient and economical alternatives to meet nuclear power’s expected shortfall that also addresses climate change mitigation, electricity security strengthening, and resiliency.
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