(Corrects name of advisory body in para 5 to Japan Atomic
Energy Commission, not Japan Atomic Power Commission)
TOKYO Nov 8 The cost of generating nuclear
power in Japan would rise by up to 1.6 yen per kilowatt hour if
the risk of a serious nuclear accident like the one in Fukushima
is factored in, a government panel of experts estimated,
providing a key element for the government to decide on its
post-Fukushima energy policy.
Lawmakers and officials are working to come up with a new
energy policy after the Fukushima radiation crisis made it
difficult, if not impossible, to build more reactors in the
world's third-biggest generator of nuclear power.
In 2004, a government panel's assessment of the cost of
hydro, fossil fuel and nuclear power generation had concluded
atomic power at 5 to 6 yen per kwh would be the cheapest energy
option most of the time. The assessment reflected the 40-year
operation cost of a model reactor but did not factor in the risk
of a serious accident or the cost for recycling waste nuclear
But now that the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
plant forced its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co , to
pay compensation for residents who have been evacuated and extra
costs to decommission the crippled reactors, a new estimate on
the cost of nuclear power was needed to include these factors.
The panel under the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, the
country's nuclear policy advisory body, calculated the extra
costs on the assumption that the impact of an accident at a
model reactor is as broad and severe as the leakage of
radioactive material at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
A separate government panel is working on a new estimate for
an operation cost under the current circumstances.
The estimates from both panels will be submitted to the
ongoing ministerial debate on new energy policy led by National
Strategy Minister Motohisa Furukawa, whose draft options for
post-Fukushima energy plans are expected to be announced by
spring next year.
If a severe nuclear accident occurs as frequently as in the
past in Japan, or once in 500 reactor years, the extra cost
would be between 1.2 and 1.6 yen per kwh, the panel said.
Under a different assumption that the frequency is once in
100,000 reactor years, which is in line with the safety
guidelines by IAEA, the panel estimated the extra cost would be
0.006 to 0.008 yen per kwh.
The cost for the risk of an accident could rise further if
compensation payments to help evacuees and cover other damages
increases from the current estimate, based on actual payments
related to the Fukushima Daiichi plant, of 5 trillion yen ($64
billion) for a model reactor, the panel said.
The cost of treatment of waste nuclear fuel for a model
reactor is estimated to range from 1 to 2 yen per kwh, with
building a repository site the least costly option, the panel
($1 = 78.030 Japanese Yen)
(Reporting by Risa Maeda; Editing by Chris Gallagher)