Japan restarts two nuclear plants
Japan's complete nuclear phaseout lasted only six weeks. Over the weekend, the government resolved to restart two of its reactors in Oi. While the move has drawn widespread criticism both within Japan and internationally, it nonetheless should be seen in context – Japan seems committed to switching from nuclear to renewables.
In the end, it was probably all too much too fast – the Japanese government has decided that the risk of power outages over the summer months is greater than the risk of another nuclear disaster. Against considerable domestic (and international) protest, Japan will be ramping up two of its nuclear reactors in OI, Fukia Prefecture.
While critics say that Japan could have made it through the summer without nuclear, the cost has already proven to be tremendous – and the country has also had to cut back on consumption wherever possible. Japan switched off more than 50 nuclear reactors in the wake of the disaster in Fukushima, foregoing roughly 30 percent of its power supply in the process – a daunting task for any country.
The decision should not, however, be taken as a policy reversal. On July 1, the country will still be rolling out feed-in tariffs for renewable electricity, but it will take time for renewables to fill the gap left find by these nuclear plants – probably a decade, at least. Japan currently has 19.5 gigawatts of renewable generating capacity installed.
It also needs to be kept in mind that skepticism about nuclear continues to be widespread in Japan, and the electricity sector has done little to assuage concerns. On the contrary, at the beginning of the month an ad comparing the risks of nuclear power to an angry wife was taken out of circulation – after roughly two years of circulation. (Craig Morris)