Japan plans to extend its 60-year limit on nuclear power plants

Amid an energy crisis that has dealt a severe blow to Japan’s economy, the Tokyo government is considering extending the life of the country’s nuclear power plant fleet beyond the current maximum lifespan of 60 years. .

According to local reports cited per Reuters, the plan is to remove limits on the lifetime of nuclear power plants as a whole, which would open the door to serial extensions of those lifetimes. Changes must be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority.

Japan has 33 nuclear reactors, four of which have been licensed to operate for 60 years. This represents an extension of their original 40-year lifespan, as stipulated in the current nuclear energy regulations that were implemented after the Fukushima tragedy. Currently, the regulations allow only one 20-year extension after the initial 40-year period.

Nuclear power has been an essential part of Japan’s energy microbe due to the country’s resource scarcity, which has made it heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels. However, the Fukushima disaster in 2011 strongly turned public opinion against nuclear power and the tide is only turning again, this time in favor of nuclear power.

Overall, by information According to the IEA, Japan depends on fossil fuels for 88% of its primary energy production, making it one of the most fossil fuel dependent members of the organization.

Nonetheless, Japan, like other IEA members, has ambitious net zero plans for 2050, including a target of 60 percent for generating electricity from non-fossil fuels by 2030. Nuclear is likely to play the leading role in this shift given Japan’s physical constraints preventing it from imitating China, for example, with solar .

Indeed, according to government plans, nuclear power is seen accounting for 20-25% of Japan’s total electricity generation in 2030. This would be down from the pre-Fukushima era, when nuclear produced about a third of Japan’s electricity, but far more than what it produced in 2020, which was about 5% of the total.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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