Cost of electric power in Japan


The following extracts from The Japan Times gives an idea about the future estimated cost of electric power in Japan

On May 11, 2015, four years after the most serious nuclear accident, The Japan Times reported that a panel of nuclear experts largely approved a government report saying that atomic power remains the cheapest source of electricity despite the rising safety costs triggered by the 2011 Fukushima core meltdowns.

Though the Government expects a glut in solar power, it wants to make nuclear power account for 20 to 22 percent of Japan’s electricity supply by 2030. The daily highlighted the government policy to stick with nuclear power though the majority of the public remains opposed to restarting its idled reactors.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), estimates that atomic power would cost at least ¥10.3 per kilowatt-hour in 2030 — cheaper than power derived from fossil fuels, natural gas, wind and solar energy.

Fukushima nuclear crisis influenced the numbers. If there were no Fukushima the cost of nuclear power would have been ¥8.9 per kWh as projected in 2011. The cost for plant decommissioning and compensation for the severe accident caused an escalation to ¥9.1 trillion from the ¥5.8 trillion estimated in 2011.

The daily quoted METI as saying that additional safety measures required to run a nuclear reactor would cost an average of ¥60.1 billion. METI is confident that the increase in overall generation costs will be limited because the probability of a nuclear accident would decrease after utilities complete their safety measures.

The report estimates that the cost of coal-fired power is ¥12.9 per kWh and liquefied natural gas ¥13.4 per kWh, compared with earlier projections of ¥10.3 and ¥10.9, respectively.

Wind power would cost up to ¥34.7, solar power up to ¥16.4, geothermal power ¥16.8, and hydropower up to ¥27.1 per kwh, all of them much higher than nuclear.

The Japan Times noted  that as per the new energy policy,  the Japanese Government  pledged to reduce reliance on nuclear power and promote renewable energy as much as possible, while standing by nuclear as a key power source, citing the importance of a stable electricity supply to economic growth.

The daily cautioned that Japan expects a glut in solar power because utilities refuse to upgrade their power grids to purchase all the energy as mandated under the feed-in tariff system.

The daily quoted METI as saying that a study has found that seven of the nation’s utilities lack the transmission network capacity to accept all of the solar power energy that suppliers plan to generate.

Seeing that these utilities can only accept 58 percent of the total, METI began looking into their transmission capacities after five utilities decided to cap their clean energy intake, revolting against the government’s plan to increase generation of renewable energy in light of the Fukushima disaster.

Under the feed-in tariff system, utilities are obliged to purchase all electricity generated from such sources as solar, wind and geothermal power at fixed rates for a set period.

There was a crisis after new suppliers flooded the solar power business; the utilities promptly suspended signing power-purchase in contracts fearing that overcapacity could cause blackouts.

Presently, four nuclear power reactors are operating in Japan. More are expected to join the fleet later.



About ksparthasarathy

I am a former Secretary of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. I am a former Raja Ramanna Fellow in the Department of Atomic Energy. Free lance journalism is my hobby
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