Utility Head: Japan Can’t Afford Renewable Energy, Needs Nuclear
A new power grid based around renewable energy will cost Japan $622 billion to build, according to government estimates
With Japan in the process of rebuilding the infrastructure damaged during 2011′s devastating tsunami, many in the country are suggesting that the time is right for a transition from nuclear to renewable energy in that country. Fears of nuclear disaster fueled by the damage and subsequent radioactive leak at the Fukushima nuclear reactor after the tsunami have many groups, both private and public, clamoring for an immediate shutdown of Japan’s nuclear program.
Despite public pressure, though, many politicians recognize that the cost for Japan to move away from dependance on nuclear energy would simply be too high.
Naomi Hirose, president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), also spoke out against the possibility of a move to carbon-based energy sources, citing the high costs and loss of independence that would coincide with a move to dependence on Middle Eastern oil. With Hirose’s company on the financial rocks and still with much of the expensive infrastructure repairs ahead of it, TEPCO is anxious to get the country’s nuclear reactors back online; all but two of Japan’s 50 nuclear plants are currently shut down.
“We understand that local residents might ask whether they are really all right with letting us operate nuclear reactors again after the accident,” said Hirose. “But zero nuclear is a very dangerous option. We need to step back and think of the wider consequences of giving up nuclear power.”
Japan is currently devising long term plans to get a handle on its energy crisis but, while renewable energy will certainly play a role, the country is in no position to drop nuclear energy entirely. The debate over the best option for both the Japanese people and the Japanese economy is expected to continue throughout 2012 as the nation’s politicians work to find a realistic and sustainable energy solution.
“When people think of these new energy sources, they only think of best-case scenarios,” Mr. Hirose said. “But we have a responsibility to provide a cheap and stable source of power. We have to be realistic.”