A new report from Greenpeace has claimed that a switch to renewable energy sources would allow Japan to permanently close its entire nuclear portfolio by 2012 without jeopardizing economic growth.
Findings from the “Advanced Energy [R]evolution Report for Japan” have put a further nail in the coffin of an industry still reeling from the fallout of March’s Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. At present, only 12 of the country’s 54 nuclear plants are online during peak summer months, and with energy demand set to fall by 11,000MW – equal to the capacity of 10 to 12 nuclear reactors – through power load reduction strategies, the stage is set for solar and other renewables to fill the void.
Under Greenpeace’s strategy, solar and wind energy generation would increase from its current level of 3,500MW to 47,200MW by 2015. In addition to an upsurge of utility-scale solar and wind systems, PV would also become a mainstay in urban areas, with solar panels covering façades of buildings and the widespread installation of solar hot water systems.
The report coincides with an anti-nuclear march that took place in Tokyo on Monday. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in the biggest show of public opposition to nuclear power since the start of the Fukushima crisis. The protesters, who included residents of Fukushima prefecture, were calling for the immediate closure of all of Japan's nuclear reactors and the introduction of a new renewables-based energy policy.
Despite this overwhelming public opposition and the passing of a clean energy bill guaranteeing above-market rates for renewables in August, new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda claims that the nuclear industry is too valuable to Japan’s struggling economy to be abolished.
However, Greenpeace’s findings go against this line of thinking. “Under the Advanced Energy [R]evolution scenario energy sector jobs would triple by 2015, reaching 326,000 compared to projections of 81,500 for a business-as-usual approach,” the report states.
“The tremendous potential of Japan's renewable energy industry not only allows it to retire its existing nuclear plants, but provides a huge opportunity to boost the economy by creating thousands of green jobs,” said Sven Teske, Greenpeace International Renewable Energy Campaign Director.
The “Advanced Energy [R]evolution Report for Japan” can be read in full here.