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  • gaeth4141 gaeth4141 Jul 29, 2011 6:25 AM Flag

    News leaking out of Japan....


    Japan PM To Speak On Plan To Reduce Nuclear Power
    Last update: 7/29/2011 6:23:01 AM
    TOKYO (AFP)--Japan's center-left Prime Minister Naoto Kan was expected Friday to outline a long-term plan to scale back nuclear power and boost renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
    National policy minister Koichiro Gemba, assigned by Kan to draft a plan to reduce atomic energy use after the Fukushima accident, said the government would spend a year to draft a new "roadmap" on energy policy.
    "It will require nationwide discussion," Gemba told a briefing ahead of Kan's televised address scheduled for 8.00 p.m. (1100 GMT).
    "Our basic stance is to reduce (nuclear power) while thoroughly improving its safety."
    The embattled premier has said he favors a complete phase-out of atomic power in the quake-prone nation. He stressed this is his personal belief following protests from business groups and many politicians.
    Kan, a one-time environmental activist, has pledged to boost alternative energy sources to 20% of the nation's energy mix by the 2020s. They currently make up about 9%, most of it hydroelectric power.
    Gemba, who heads the Kan cabinet's Energy and Environment Council, said the envisioned roadmap the panel was drafting will set immediate goals to secure a stable energy supply amid post-disaster power shortages.
    Medium-term goals until 2020 should include decentralised energy systems, with reduced nuclear use, he said. The long-range target for 2050, he said, was the "best energy mix" that would utilise new technologies.
    Under the new energy goals, the government would aim to reduce the dominance of Japan's regional power companies and consider withdrawing their responsibility for operation of electricity transmission grids.
    The government would also promote private investment in renewable energy in regional areas, as well as advances in energy savings and efficiency, which "will create sources of economic growth," Gemba said.
    In addition, the government would set up a panel to reassess the total cost of atomic power, factoring in the amount of compensation likely to be paid to evacuees and other victims of the Fukushima accident, he said.
    Japan until the March 11 disaster relied on nuclear power for about 30% of its energy needs and had planned to boost that to 50% by 2030, but Kan has since called for a review "from scratch" of that plan.
    More than four months since the quake and tsunami sparked the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster, only 16 of Japan's 54 reactors are operational, with most of the shut plants now undergoing safety checks.
    More nuclear plants are due to go offline for regular checks and maintenance in coming months, while many regional governments that host atomic power stations have been unwilling to green-light reactor restarts.
    If Japan switches off all its nuclear plants, it will face a roughly 10 percent shortage of energy next summer, particularly in Tokyo and surrounding areas, and risks higher electricity bills, the panel said.
    A recent Kyodo poll found 70% of people expressed full or qualified support for Kan's call for a society that does not rely on nuclear power.
    The survey also found that public support for the Kan cabinet had fallen to 17%, the lowest level since it took power a little over a year ago.
    (END) Dow Jones Newswires

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