“Even the Japanese Photovoltaic Association and the Wind Association have nuclear in their respective energy mix scenarios, in order to make the numbers work,” DeWit said. “Japanese public finances are in dire straits and social security costs are rising as it is the fastest aging society in the world. Any path to decarbonization, he added, will have to take these issues into account.
Japan has the ability to go back to nuclear if it wishes. There are 33 operational nuclear reactors across the country that are not in use, all awaiting the final call from local authorities to restart operations. They have been reluctant to give the green light, even to factories that have undergone extensive safety reviews.
“Japanese utilities with nuclear assets spent about 1.3 trillion yen [about $12 billion] on upgrading facilities, just in the first three years after Fukushima, ”said Yuriy Humber, managing director of Yuri Invest Research, a specialist energy research firm in Tokyo. “The industry is now locked into a sort of Sisyphus game, adding more and more security features to factories. … And then he is rejected. “
Restarting Japan’s nuclear power plants seems a political, if not technical, impossibility at the moment, thanks to public opposition and an ambiguous response from the country’s leadership. And despite investment and growth in renewables, Japan still lacks the technology and capacity to plug the massive hole left when nuclear power was abandoned.