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Kan Says Renewables to Generate 20% of Japan’s Power Next Decade

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan pledged to generate 20 percent of the nation’s electricity through renewable forms of energy by the 2020s as the nation rewrites its power blueprint in the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

“We will do everything we can to make renewable energy our base form of power, overcoming hurdles of technology and cost,” Kan said in the prepared text of a speech in Paris today, before the Group of Eight summit starting tomorrow in Deauville, France. Japan aims to reduce the cost of solar power generation to one third current levels by 2020 and one-sixth in 2030, he said.

Nuclear safety is among the topics Kan’s expected to discuss with his global counterparts this week as he continues to battle the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. Japan’s reliance on nuclear energy has made its transmission grid the least able among major economies to accommodate power sources such as wind and solar, according to the International Energy Agency.

Kan told French President Nicolas Sarkozy that he still intends to rely on nuclear power once the country has secured the safety of existing facilities, Tetsuro Fukuyama, deputy chief cabinet secretary, told reporters today after the two met in Paris. Japan currently generates about 30 percent of its electricity through atomic energy and had planned on boosting that proportion to 50 percent by 2030. Kan said this month that he will review that goal.

Japan’s power market is less flexible than those in most industrialized countries partly because nuclear, coal and oil power plants account for a large part of its generation capacity. These sources accounted for about 70 percent of total capacity in 2008, according to the IEA’s latest figures.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aki Ito in Paris at aito16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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