June 1, 2015 / 7:57 AM / 4 years ago

Japan body approves plan for nuclear to generate 20-22 pct of power

TOKYO, June 1 (Reuters) - A Japanese consultative committee on Monday stuck to a controversial government plan for atomic energy to generate 20-22 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030 despite public opposition following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The government will open the plan to the public for comment for a month from Tuesday and the proposals are expected to be formally approved by the trade ministry around mid-July, a ministry official said. They would then become government policy.

With the renewable contribution set at 22-24 percent of the electricity mix, critics say the government has not made good on a promise last year to cut nuclear while expanding renewables.

All of Japan’s reactors were shut after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant north of Tokyo in 2011, the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. None has reopened although two reactors have recently got through safety checks, with the first restart earmarked for late July.

Nuclear power supplied nearly 30 percent of Japan’s electricity before the closures.

Opinion polls have shown consistent opposition to atomic energy since the disaster, even after electricity bills rose.

The panel also set a power generation target for liquefied natural gas (LNG) of 27 percent and coal at 26 percent.

“I am against this draft,” one of the members, Professor Takeo Kikkawa of the Tokyo University of Science, told the committee meeting. “The reason is that this does not match Japan’s basic energy plan to reduce reliance on nuclear power as much as possible and maximise introduction of renewable energy.”

Kikkawa told Reuters after the meeting he wanted to see nuclear accounting for 15 percent of the electricity mix with renewables at 30 percent. Japan should concentrate on building new nuclear plants because that would be the most effective in terms of safety, he said.

The basic energy plan, set in April 2014, will be revised every three years and energy mix goals are subject to change if necessary, according to the draft.

The shutdown of reactors has pushed coal and LNG consumption to record highs, causing power costs to soar and adding to Japan’s carbon emissions. (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Aaron Sheldrick and Alan Raybould)

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