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エネルギー戦略 現実的な電源構成案に改めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 5, 2012)
The government must make energy scenarios more realistic
エネルギー戦略 現実的な電源構成案に改めよ(8月4日付・読売社説)

The government's scenarios for a national energy strategy have been called into question over their feasibility. It is hard to deny the government has failed to sufficiently explain them to the public. These problems must be tackled.

In June, the government presented three scenarios on the ratio of nuclear power in the nation's energy sources in 2030, setting the ratio at zero percent, 15 percent or 20 to 25 percent.

Aimed at overhauling the current basic energy plan, all of the scenarios call for reducing the nation's dependence on nuclear power and making up the difference with thermal power and renewable energy, such as solar power. The government reportedly intends to reach a conclusion on the matter by the end of this month following public hearings and other types of national discussions.

The scenarios appear to offer a wide range of options--from the zero percent plan aimed at denuclearization to the 20 percent to 25 percent plan calling for nuclear power to be used in the mid- and long term. However, all of the scenarios share a critical flaw: They are unrealistic.


Optimistic estimates

The ratio of renewable energy appears to have been overestimated. In the scenario calling for no nuclear power, renewable energy sources account for 35 percent of the nation's total electricity generation, while the two plans that include the use of nuclear power call for such eco-friendly energy to supply 25 percent to 30 percent of the nation's electricity. Currently, renewable energy, including hydroelectric power, accounts for only about 10 percent.

The government reportedly plans to install solar panels at more than 10 million homes to make the nation's solar power capacity 20 times greater than it is at present. But it is unclear how this plan will be implemented.

Although a renewable energy purchase program was launched in July, there is concern that the program could cause a rise in electricity rates, a side effect that has been seen in Germany. The target ratio of renewable energy should be revised to more realistic figures.

The government has also yet to explain sufficiently how these scenarios would affect daily life. Its estimates show that a regular household would see its monthly utility bill increase by as much as 10,000 yen as a result of the wider use of renewable energy.

However, we suspect the public would face even greater burdens as rising overall costs of power generation could result in price increases and weigh on companies' business operations. The firms could be forced to restructure.


Lack of information

According to estimates by the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), which were based on data from a government panel, if the zero percent nuclear power plan is implemented, the number of people unemployed in Japan will rise by 2 million from about 3 million at present. The annual income of working households is estimated to decline nearly 600,000 yen, dealing a serious blow to people's lives.

It is vital that people decide on the ratio of nuclear power they want to support, after being properly informed of the negative impact of reducing dependence on nuclear power and extreme energy-saving efforts. The government should provide information that will help them make proper decisions.

Meanwhile, questions have also been raised about the economic growth rate under the three scenarios, which are all based on the assumption that the nation's economy will grow at a rate of about 1 percent in real terms. This figure is lower than the government's goal of a 2 percent growth rate, set under the national revitalization strategy.

Motohisa Furukawa, state minister in charge of national strategy, said the scenarios' assumption is not directly linked to the existing growth strategy. However, his remarks are hardly convincing.

The government should view a national energy strategy as an important pillar of economic growth and reconsider the three scenarios.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 4, 2012)
(2012年8月4日01時57分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-06 07:44 | 英字新聞

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