The nation will have to invest at least ¥50 trillion in renewable energy by 2030 if nuclear power is completely phased out, the government estimated Tuesday.
It also predicted that households would see their monthly energy bills, including gas and other sources, nearly double if the phaseout goal is to be reached by 2030, rising to as high as ¥32,243 on average, compared with ¥16,900 in 2010.
These estimates were presented at a meeting to discuss future energy policy that was attended by national policy minister Motohisa Furukawa and other key members of the Cabinet.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has asked his Cabinet to outline the challenges if Japan decides to go completely nuclear-free.
Furukawa said the government will finish drawing up the new energy plan “by the end of this week or early next week.”
Lawmakers on the energy and environment panel of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan met separately in an effort to compile their recommendations on the new energy policy.
Members of the panel, which is headed by DPJ policy chief Seiji Maehara, exchanged views on drafted recommendations that urge the government not to allow construction of new nuclear plants and to eventually abandon atomic power.
But they remain divided over the target date for achieving that goal.
Furukawa said the government intends to compile the new energy plan after taking into account the ruling party’s recommendations coming possibly later this week.
Under the phaseout scenario, the nation’s energy to be generated from solar, wind and other renewable sources would need to rise to 350 billion kwh in 2030 from 106 billion kwh in 2010 to cover the loss of nuclear power.
If reliance on nuclear power is reduced to 15 percent in 2030, the government said, ¥40 trillion in investments would probably be needed to increase output from renewable energy sources to 300 billion kwh. In that case, the average monthly household energy bill would probably rise to as high as ¥29,290, the government said.
The government also pointed out that even if nuclear power is taken off the board, disposing of the spent nuclear fuel stored in Aomori Prefecture and at the nation’s nuclear plants will remain a pressing question.
Before the Fukushima disaster, the national policy goal was to reprocess all spent nuclear fuel and reuse the extracted plutonium and uranium as reactor fuel. If the government ends atomic power generation, there would be no point in pursuing fuel recycling.
Aomori has been calling on the government to maintain the fuel-recycling policy. The government noted that a decline in the nation’s nuclear power-related technologies and human resources specializing in the field also needs to be considered if atomic power is to be abandoned.