Japan Government Too Bullish on Nuclear Role by 2030, BNEF Says

Japan’s expectation that nuclear generation will account for as much as 22 percent of its electricity in 2030 is overly optimistic, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

Factoring in costs and the regulatory hurdles required to extend the life of operating reactors beyond the typical 40 years, atomic power will probably supply no more than 10 percent of electricity in 2030, an analysis by BNEF shows.

The discrepancies between the London-based researcher’s findings and the official view on nuclear’s contribution highlight a looming question for Japan as it considers the composition of its energy mix following the Fukushima disaster more than four years ago.

To achieve the government target, at least 13 reactors would need to receive extensions beyond their 40-year lifetime, BNEF said in a report released Tuesday. That would be challenging amid continued anti-nuclear power sentiment among the public, the researcher said.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has said in a draft report on energy policy that nuclear will account for 20 percent to 22 percent of electricity generation in 15 years. Though nuclear reactors supplied more than a quarter of Japan’s electricity before Fukushima, none are currently operating.

The government’s outlook, unveiled in April and reaffirmed by a consultative committee on Monday, is also too bearish on the roles for gas and clean energy, BNEF said.

Gas is likely to account for about 42 percent of Japan’s electricity generation in 2030, far greater than the government’s projection of 27 percent, according to the report.

As for clean energy, renewables will probably make up 26.1 percent of the generation mix, compared with 22 percent to 24 percent projected by the government, BNEF said.

BNEF expects 23 percent of Japan’s electricity to come from coal in 2030. The government pegs coal at 26 percent.

“Overall, the government’s outlook appears to be an attempt at reconciling competing goals of achieving a lower-emission generation mix while at the same time protecting the politically favoured technologies of coal and nuclear,” BNEF said in a statement accompanying the release of the analysis.

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