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Wednesday, 17th August 2011
In General Japan News,

Japan ponders its future energy mix

Japanese authorities have approved the full restart of commercial operations at an atomic reactor for the first time since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, which was caused by the earth quake and subsequent tsunami of March 11th.

Harumi Takahashi, governor of the Hokkaido prefecture, approved a request by Hokkaido Electric Power Company to resume activity at its Tomari plant's number three reactor, according to the AFP.

In total Japan possesses 54 reactors, nearly three-quarters of which have been switched off for safety checks in the wake of the Fukushima incident.

The news provider notes that, with anti-nuclear sentiment currently quite high, there has been some reluctance on the part of ministers to approve restarts at these reactors.

Prime minister Naoto Kan has gone so far as to suggest that the country should phase out nuclear power from its energy mix in the future, but a shortage of electricity and rising global wholesale prices mean that any such move is incredibly unlikely in the short or medium term.

What is more likely, perhaps, is that the government will consider scaling back its previous targets of increasing electricity output from nuclear generators from its current level of 30 per cent to 50 per cent by 2030.

Reuters reports that one energy company, Chugoku Electric Power Co, has already announced that it will delay plans to build a new nuclear power plant, despite originally moving ahead with the project in 2009.

However Japan chooses to approach nuclear power generation in the future, what does remain clear is that current energy shortages are likely to remain in the country for some time yet.

The Asahi Shimbun estimates that areas relying heavily on nuclear power plants for their energy needs could still be facing shortages in five years' time if all the reactors are not brought back online.

Written by Mark Smith