This is the question many are asking themselves as the Japanese government initially wanted to go nuclear free by 2040 but finally removed the specific deadline as the New York Times reported.
Nuclear plants can last decades provided they are operated and maintained carefully. Nuclear accounts for 18 percent of the electricity mix of the nation, renewables for 10 percent, the quasi totality from hydro power.
Japan is leading in energy efficiency and conservation and going without nuclear while decreasing carbon dioxide emissions – an imperative – will prove extremely difficult, whatever the deadline.
This event brings us to a question : can the world go nuclear free while still meeting the imperatives of slashing carbon emissions ? Is it commendable or a folly ?
Even if the Fukushima catastrophe somewhat changed my extremely positive opinion on nuclear, I am not so sure that abandoning this low carbon energy source NOW would be a good move.
Coal kills all around the world much more people from its mining to its combustion which leads to massive air pollution – and health related issues such as asthma – than does nuclear.It is also the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide per kWh. Coal should be the first to go off our electricity mix, not nuclear.
Let’s maintain our existing reactors, let’s decommission the ones that can’t be maintained. Let’s even build more reactors but with really raised security requirements and let’s enforce them.
That Japan, a country regarded as technologically savvy and advanced, failed in enforcing nuclear security should make us think twice or more about nuclear…
But the dangers of climate change is so big that we should consider all low carbon options.
Renewables are a great solution indeed, and Japan is now committed to boosting them with aggressive feed in tariffs, but one should not forget about the huge potential of energy conservation and efficiency…