Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshi Kajiyama told the Financial Times that if Japan is to achieve its goal of reducing its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, nuclear energy will be crucial.He said that the power shortage this winter has changed the direction of public opinion about the industry.
As the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in charge of energy affairs, Kajiyama said that last month's blizzard caused Japan to be on the verge of blackouts, highlighting that the country still needs nuclear energy.
These remarks reflect a major change in Japanese policy.In the ten years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan has been dependent on fossil fuels, and now the country has renewed its focus on reducing emissions.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is discussing a new energy strategy to fulfill Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's commitment to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.But given that 88% of Japan's energy supply comes from fossil fuels, and almost all comes from imports, achieving this goal means that Japan will have to make huge changes.
Kajiyama said that renewable energy will be the top priority.However, due to Japan's limited geographical conditions, the country will need to deploy all feasible technologies, including imported hydrogen, nuclear energy, and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Kajiyama, who once worked in the nuclear energy industry, said: "I personally think that nuclear energy will be indispensable."
Kajiyama said that during Japan’s blizzard last month, Japan’s power supply crisis was "on the verge". "At that time, solar energy could not generate electricity. Wind energy could not generate electricity." At that time, electricity prices soared, and power was almost cut off in parts of Japan.He said: "I'm trying to convince everyone that we still need nuclear energy in the end."
However, power companies have been urging to restart nuclear reactors, and the Zero Carbon Emissions initiative has given them a new argument.The analysis by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan shows that renewable energy can hardly meet more than 60% of Japan's energy demand.Many experts believe that even 60% is difficult to achieve.
Kajiyama said: “Limited by the geographical conditions of Japan, it is not as easy to promote renewable energy in Japan as it is in Europe or North America.” He pointed out that Japan lacks flat and open land where solar panels can be installed, and the depth of the ocean is deep. Cost of offshore wind power.The model of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan shows that 30% to 40% of energy supply needs to come from nuclear power plants or fossil fuel power plants with carbon capture and storage capabilities.
Last year, Japan introduced new regulations to restrict financing for new overseas coal-fired power plants. Kajiyama hinted that similar regulations might also be introduced in Japan.He said: "The current vision is carbon capture. We will complete the currently planned (power plants), but it will be consistent with the commitment to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050."
Japan’s energy costs are among the highest in the world, and the industry is concerned about the cost of reducing emissions.The auto industry is particularly worried about the plan to ban gasoline vehicles by 2035.Toyota President Akio Toyoda warned that “the business model of the auto industry (there is a risk of) collapse”.
But Kajiyama said that if Japanese automakers fail to keep up with the electrification transition in Europe and North America, they may be abandoned by the global market.He said that Japan must join the global zero-carbon movement. "Japan's industry, economy and environment all require us to make this decision now."
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