October 20, 2011 / 3:21 AM / 6 years ago

Japan eyes renewable energy deregulation: report

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese cabinet ministers will call on the government to ease rules on building geothermal, wind and hydraulic power plants to boost renewable energy use after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the Nikkei business daily reported on Thursday.

The world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, triggered by a huge earthquake and tsunami in March, has heightened public safety concerns and kept 44 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors off-line.

Following the atomic disaster, Japan vowed to review from scratch the country’s energy policy, which previously had aimed to rely on nuclear power for more than 50 percent of the country’s electricity supply by 2030.

A panel of cabinet ministers in charge of energy and environmental issues will make a 93-point list of recommendations to the government on cutting costs and saving time to build more renewable energy plants, the Nikkei said without citing sources.

For instance, it will recommend that rules over drilling of geothermal resources at national parks be relaxed and advise that special farming and forestry rules be set up to utilize unused farmland, the Nikkei reported.

The panel will also recommend that the issuance of water rights permits be relaxed and that laws governing rivers and utilities be revised in order to increase the number of hydraulic plants, the Nikkei reported.

Once the recommendations are made, the government will aim to realize such deregulation steps during this fiscal year to March 31, 2012, the Nikkei said.

The panel is due to meet next week to discuss deregulation and other issues such as the power supply outlook for this winter.

Japan’s previous prime minister, Naoto Kan, pledged to scrap nuclear power in the future and vowed to boost renewable energy to at least 20 percent of the country’s electricity supply in the 2020s. Various types of renewable energy account for about 10 percent of Japan’s power demand.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda who took over in September has acknowledged that public safety concerns will make it tough to build new reactors, but has stopped short of saying atomic power would play no role at all by 2050.

Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Chris Gallagher

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