Nuclear power is "an important base load electricity source", according to a final draft of Japan's new medium to long-term basic energy programme compiled on 25-02-2014.The draft endorsed at a meeting of relevant ministers states a policy to reactivate idled nuclear reactors if they pass safety screenings by the Nuclear Regulation Authority under its new standards introduced last July.
After presenting the draft to the ruling bloc for adjustments, the government plans to adopt a new energy programme at a cabinet meeting by the end of March, Japanese news agency Jiji Press reported.
A previous draft drew up late last year by the industry ministry said that nuclear power is "a fundamental and important base electricity source."
The government, however, watered down the language, removing the word "fundamental" to weaken the importance of nuclear power in the face of opposition from some Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers and New Komeito, the LDP's ruling coalition partner which is cautious about promoting nuclear power.
A "base load electricity source", similar to "base electricity source" used in the previous draft, refers to a power source generating a certain amount of electricity constantly.
While the final draft notes that nuclear power contributes to stability in the energy demand-supply balance, it says that Japan will reduce its dependence on nuclear power as much as possible by introducing renewable energy and increasing the efficiency of thermal power generation.
Japan will determine the number of nuclear power plants in operation from a viewpoint of securing technologies and personnel for ensuring safety, the draft says.
The draft says that Japan will promote the nuclear fuel cycle, in which fuel from nuclear power plants is reprocessed for its reuse, but also preserves flexibility in responses for the medium to long term, leaving room for a possible review of the policy.
The draft stresses thorough reforms in all perspectives for the Japan Atomic Energy Agency's Monju fast breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, a core facility for the nuclear fuel cycle, which has been suspended for a long time due to a series of problems including maintenance flaws.
This is the first time for the government to draw up a basic energy programme since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
All nuclear reactors in Japan are now offline and eight power companies have applied for safety checks by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for a total of 17 reactors at 10 nuclear power plants.
Source - pti