Symposium: Energy choices and the role of nuclear in the World and Japan

japan picAround 100 energy and nuclear experts gathered in Tokyo last month, on 17 September, to discuss the energy mix and role of nuclear in the world and Japan at a symposium organised by the Japanese Member Committee and the Japan Energy Association, JEA.  Four keynote speakers discussed “global perspectives of energy choices”, “role of nuclear in the energy mix” and “how to get public acceptance”.

Since the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 11, 2011, all Japanese nuclear plants have been shutdown. However, in early September, a PWR plant, Sendai unit-1 restarted its commercial operation after clearing a new safety review and getting agreements from local municipalities. Sendai unit-2 is also due to restart in October. But, there is an uncertainty on when and how many other units could follow these units. Additionally, there is another uncertainty on life-extension of aged plants from 40 year to 60 years as well as the possibility of constructing new plants.

In Europe some countries are showing strong intentions to develop new nuclear power reactors. Whereas Middle East countries and some developing countries are showing strong concerns on nuclear power development. It was from these viewpoints, that the Japan Energy Association and the World Energy Council Japanese member committee, held an international symposium on “Energy Choices and Role of Nuclear in the World and Japan”, inviting experienced foreign and Japanese experts. The aim was to establish ‘What is a global trend’ by comparing the Japanese energy mix with global energy mixes.

Four keynote speakers talked about ‘global perspective of energy choices’, ‘role of nuclear in the energy mix’ and ‘how to get public acceptance’. The speakers are Mrs Agneta Rising, Director General of WNA; Dr Shozo Kaneko, former Professor of the University of Tokyo; Dr Kenji Yamaji, Director General of Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE); Mr Hidetoshi Takehara, President and Representative Director, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Ltd of Hitachi-GE, Japan.

Mrs Agneta Rising, Director General of WNA:

Mrs Agneta Rising presented a keynote speech entitled “Energy Choices and Role of Nuclear” where she stressed the role of nuclear in tackling climate change. She welcomed the restart of Sendai –1, saying that it is a hugely important step which sets Japan firmly on the path to restarting its trade balance and regaining energy independence, as well as reducing GHG emissions.

“It is completely understandable that people’s faith in nuclear technology was shaken by the events of March11 2011, she said. “But now the Japanese people need to see their reactors being operated efficiently and reliably by operators who are fully committed to protecting public health and the environment,” she said.

Mrs Agneta Rising continued, “It is also important that they are reminded of the key role nuclear energy has traditionally played in supporting industry, keeping electricity bills down and keeping Japan secure.”

Dr Shozo Kaneko, former Professor of the University of Tokyo:  

Dr Shozo Kaneko, discussed “Pathways for Japanese Industries” where he highlighted that in Japan, where 96% of fossil fuels are imported, energy security is the first priority and that a close relationship with the world is important and that this has been dramatically changing the world energy situation. To illustrate the point, Dr Kaneko gave the following examples: the Obama administration’s clear declaration of a shift from coal to shale gas and Germany’s shifting of energy sources from nuclear or coal to renewables.

Dr Kaneko said, “What is required for Japanese industry is steady manufacturing to maintain competitive products through innovation. Now technologies, especially high efficiency electric power plants such as USC or IGCC are the key for the success.”

Dr Kenji Yamaji, Director General of Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE):

Dr Kenji Yamaji presented the “Energy Mix in Japan”. He reported that the Japanese government officially communicated its INDC aiming at a 2030 GHG reduction target of 26% compared to 2013, and that this target is based on the 2030 energy mix (RE:22~24%, Nuclear:22~20%, LNG:27%, Coal:26%, Oil:3%).

Dr Yamaji said, “The electricity mix as a percentage share of each power source is well-balanced. However, it should be noted that the expected large energy savings assumed in the 2030 energy mix is very ambitious and requires a high carbon price.”

Mr Hidetoshi Takehara, President and Representative Director, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Ltd of Hitachi-GE, Japan which has purchased Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd. in UK:

Mr Hidetoshi Takehara, gave a presentation entitled “Nuclear Technology Now and in the Future”.

He said, “In addition to drawing on the combined capabilities of our group companies to supply services and develop the technologies for decommission and decontamination, we will supply solutions for enhancing the safety of nuclear power plants based on the lessons from the incident in Fukushima.”

The symposium was hosted by Mr Teruaki Masumoto, the Chair of World Energy Council Japanese member committee.