While Japan makes a significant effort to lessen their dependence on nuclear power after the 2011 disaster in Fukushima, their greenhouse emissions reached its second-highest level on record in the past year. Utilities have been using fossil fuel to make up for the loss of nuclear power as the government ordered all reactors to go offline for maintenance and safety checks.
According to the figures released from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry last week, Japan produced 1.207 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide last fiscal year, which ended March 2013. That was a 2.8% increase from the previous fiscal year and a 7.4% higher than the year before the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in 2011, considered the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. It’s also 14% higher than in 1990-91, which is considered the benchmark year for CO2 emissions as per the Kyoto Protocol. However, it is still lower than the official record, which is 1.218 billion tons during 2007-08, the year before the global financial crisis.
The last operating nuclear reactors at Oi in Fukui Prefecture went offline last month, making the utilities and the country even more dependent on using fossil fuels to generate electricity. Fiscal 2012-13 showed a 94% decrease in nuclear power and a 20% and 4.7% increase in natural gas and oil, respectively. The utilities are planning to build more thermal power plants to support their energy production. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the operator of the Fukushima plant, announced that three companies (Chubu Electric Power Co., Electric Power Development Co. and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp.) will be constructing a 680 megawatts of new coal power capacity to help supply powers to its customers.
Other companies like Nippon Paper Industries Co are also considering increasing their capacity using coal, which is considered the cheapest, but also the dirtiest, kind of fossil fuel. METI minister Toshimitsu Motegi says the government will be revealing the new energy plan by early December, and companies like those mentioned above are expecting that they will be liberalizing the fossil fuel industry.
[ via Wall Street Journal ]
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