Draft energy proposal focuses on renewable sources / Panel also stresses less N-power dependence

The Yomiuri ShimbunA draft proposal on the nation’s long-term energy policy through 2050 focuses on making renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power a major source of electric power.

Drawn up Tuesday by an expert panel of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, the draft proposal closely adheres to the government’s conventional policy of reducing dependency on nuclear power as much as possible, due to the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, while keeping nuclear power as “an option.”

The government has already set a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 to conform with the Paris Agreement (see below), an international framework to mitigate global warming.

To help achieve this objective, the draft proposal specifies that the government should “aim to make renewable energy a main source of the electric power supply economically self-sufficient and decarbonized.”

Because renewable energy involves high costs for power generation and is currently unprofitable, the draft proposal seeks to kick-start technological advancements such as improving storage batteries and reinforcing power grids.

Yet it is difficult to predict the kinds of energy that society will rely on 30 years in the future. For that reason, the draft proposal also emphasizes the need to pursue the potential of every possible option, and to seek to use diverse energy sources including nuclear power.

The draft proposal also refers to thermal power generation, stating that it should be used as a major source of electric power through such measures as replacing aged coal-fired thermal power plants with more efficient ones, and shifting to thermal power plants using natural gas.

However, the draft proposal does not touch on details such as a breakdown of electric power according to the source.

The draft proposal will be submitted to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko as early as this month, to have it reflected in the government’s basic energy plan.

The government is expected to obtain a Cabinet decision on the plan as early as this summer, and intends to position renewable energy resources as “one of the main sources of electric power” and nuclear power generation as “an important power source.”

■ Paris Agreement

An international treaty aimed at counteracting climate change. It went into effect in November 2016. The agreement aims to maintain a global average temperature increase of well below 2 C above the pre-Industrial Revolution level. Although the United States has announced its withdrawal from the treaty, at least 190 countries and territories, including developing nations, submit their emissions-cutting goals to the United Nations, with each aiming to achieve the goals.Speech

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