The Japanese prime minister announced on Wednesday that his nation would reactivate more dormant nuclear power plants and examine the viability of creating next-generation reactors. The comments made by Fumio Kishida, which were covered by Reuters, expand on those he made in May.
The International Energy Agency has praised Japan’s plans to switch back to utilising more nuclear power, with one of the agency’s heads telling that it was “really positive and encouraging news.”
Director of the IEA’s office for energy markets and security Keisuke Sadamori expressed support for Japan’s plan in an interview with source “Squawk Box Europe” on Thursday morning.
They occur at a time when Japan, a major energy importer, is seeking to expand its options in light of the continued turbulence on the world energy markets and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Sadamori said that the markets for fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, were “extremely tight.” He added that this was particularly true in Europe.
“This is … very good and encouraging news both in terms of energy supply security and climate change mitigation,” he said, adding that Japan had been “burning a lot of fossil fuels in order to fill the gap from the lack of nuclear power since the Fukushima … accident.”
The new builds, he replied, would take a long time. “I understand that the announcement by … Prime Minister Kishida yesterday was focusing more on the new types of nuclear power plants, including SMRs — small modular reactors.”
“They’re still in, basically, a development stage, so … we need to accelerate those developments,” he added. The more significant aspects were, he argued, the restart of existing plants and the extension of existing plants’ lifetime.
“It also creates huge amounts of hazardous waste,” it adds. “Renewable energy is cheaper and can be installed quickly. Together with battery storage, it can generate the power we need and slash our emissions.” Sadamori was questioned on why investing in and emphasising renewable energy sources was less practical for Japan than going nuclear again.
The country, he said, had “very ambitious programs for the expansion of renewable sources.” These included solar photovoltaic and wind, especially offshore wind. While Europe had “massive” offshore wind resources, Japan was “less endowed with … good renewable sources in that respect.”
To this end, nuclear power, in particular the active use of existing plants, should be “a very important part” of the strategy to lower emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century.