Nuclear power will continue to satisfy a “significant proportion” of the Japan’s electricity demand in the future, despite the nuclear accident caused by last year’s disasters, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, an economic research body affiliated with the Economist magazine.
Martin Adams, energy editor for the think tank, said he detects a more favorable climate toward nuclear power in Japan and a realization that, given the country’s scarce natural resources, nuclear energy has a role to play.
He said use of nuclear power in the country will remain at low levels for the next two years due to a mixture of continued inspections of reactors, “foot-dragging on restarts” and the likely decommissioning of some aging reactors.
“But we expect the proportion of nuclear in the energy mix to rise,” Adams said. “It is likely, in most cases, that existing nuclear plants will resume operations, although we foresee a gradual drop in the reactor numbers over the course of the decade and beyond as old reactors are shut down and decommissioned.
“Electricity generation from nuclear will not therefore recover to pre-Fukushima levels,” he added. “Our forecast is for 30.6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity in 2020, down from 47.7 gigawatts in 2010 — a significant revision from the 61.2 gigawatts we forecast before Fukushima.”
To make up for the shortfall in nuclear power, the Economist Intelligence Unit anticipates that Japan’s demand for natural gas will double between 2011 and 2020.
Petroleum products will remain the biggest source of energy, representing about 45 percent of domestic energy consumption.
Coal consumption, meanwhile, will climb by nearly 20 percent over the course of this decade, according to the forecasts, making up about 20 percent of total energy consumption.