Japan has now become completely free from nuclear power for the first time since 1966. A scheduled shutdown of the Tomari nuclear power plant has made it the 54th and final reactor to go offline.
After the March 11 disaster in Fukushima last year, Japan has proven that nuclear power can be quickly abandoned with little impact on people’s everyday lives, so far. According to the Minister for Economy, Trade, and Industry Yukio Edano, there will be no rolling blackouts or restrictions on electricity use.
Over the past 14 months, reactors in Japan have closed one-by-one after routine maintenance checks. While the public’s strong opposition to nuclear power plants is making it difficult for the government to consider keeping any sort of nuclear power, the energy industry is still in the hands of centralized utilities who want to keep nuclear power around.
Aside from cutting back on the use of nuclear power since 2011, Japan has also installed 1,000 megawatts of photovoltaics and is in the process of creating new legislation that will double the use of renewables.
If there’s anything even remotely positive to be taken from the Fukushima disaster, it’s that the public is now making its energy views known and is much more involved in the push for change. Sadly, it did take a massive disaster to shake things up, but with strong public support and the resources available for technological development, a completely renewable future may not be too far off for the country.
Given the options now available for renewable energy, Japan could be facing a great opportunity to benefit environmentally and financially in the coming decades. The new challenges and new solutions will undoubtedly require a lot of societal involvement and support.
Do you think Japan will have a successful renewable energy and energy efficient future, or will nuclear power have to make a comeback at some stage?
Image CC licensed by Ayumu Kawazoe: Mihama nuclear power plant, Fukui Prefecture, Japan