It's big, if tentative, news: The Japanese government's forthcoming energy policy may call for phasing out nuclear power entirely by the year 2030. The information comes from Kyodo News, which quoted unnamed sources who had reportedly seen the draft energy policy. The final and official version may be released before the week's end.
It wouldn't be a complete surprise. In the wake of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster Japan has been forced to rethink its reliance on nuclear power, which in 2010 generated 26 percent of the country’s electricity. In the year and a half since Fukushima's triple meltdown, the government had discussed several different plans for altering the country's energy mix, but almost all called for scaling back or eliminating nuclear power.
With continued anti-nuclear protests on the streets of Tokyo, it now seems likely that the government will opt for a gradual but complete phase-out of all nuclear power in the country. This will require decommissioning all 54 of Japan's nuclear reactors. Currently, only the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture is operating.
According to the early news reports, the phase-out is unequivocal: "We will devote all policy resources to achieving zero nuclear power generation in the 2030s," the draft reportedly states.
However, there are conflicting reports on other details. Some newspapers report that the government will stop its ambitious attempt to recycle nuclear fuel and will instead investigate permanent storage; other publications say that the much-delayed and troubled reprocessing plant in Aomori Prefecture will continue construction.
We'll bring you more information as we get it.
Eliza Strickland is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum, where she covers AI, biomedical engineering, and other topics. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.