Japan continues to count cost of idled reactors

17 June 2014

Japan's ongoing reliance on imported fossil fuels while its nuclear reactors await permission to restart continues to impact on the country's greenhouse gas emissions and trade deficit.

The 2014 Annual Report on Energy, published by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), shows that Japan depended on imported fossil fuels for 88% of its electricity in fiscal year 2013, compared with 62% in fiscal 2010, the last full-year before the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. With almost its entire nuclear fleet offline, Japan reliance on fossil fuels peaked in fiscal year 2012 at 92.2%.

Japan was self-sufficient for just 6% of its energy demand in fiscal 2012, primarily from hydro and other renewable sources. With two units at the Ohi plant operating for just a few months, nuclear electricity generation met just 0.6% of its energy needs that year. Compared with fiscal 2010, prior to the Fukushima Daiichi accident, Japan was almost 20% energy self-sufficient, with nuclear energy meeting 15% of its total energy needs.

The additional fuel costs that Japan faced in fiscal 2013 to compensate for its nuclear reactors being idled was ¥3.6 trillion ($35.2 billion). Japan reported a trade deficit of ¥11.5 trillion ($112 billion) for the year, largely directly and indirectly due to these additional fuel costs. This compares with trade deficits of ¥6.9 trillion ($68 billion) in 2012 and ¥2.6 trillion ($25 billion) in 2011, following a ¥6.6 trillion ($65 billion) surplus in 2010.

In parallel, Japanese energy consumers have faced increasing electricity tariffs over the past three years. Domestic users have seen a 19.4% increase in tariffs between fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2013, while industrial users have seen their tariffs rise 28.4% over the same period.

Total electricity consumption in Japan decreased 8% between 2010 and 2012, from 996 TWh to 916 TWh. This decrease has mainly resulted from energy conservation measures.

Emissions grow

As a results of its increased use of fossil fuels, Japan's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have also grown over the past three years. Emissions from electricity generation accounted for 36.2% of the country's total CO2 emissions of 1343 million tonnes in fiscal 2012, up from 33.6% of total emissions of 1307 million tonnes in 2011. In fiscal 2010, electricity generation accounted for just under 30% of Japan's total CO2 emissions of 1256 million tonnes.

An annual report on energy is published annually in Japan to provide an overview of the country's energy situation and to provide the government with guidance on energy policy. The report also provides a summary of measures taken to address the energy supply-demand balance by the government in fiscal 2013.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News