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Govt Panel Torn Over Nuclear Energy
TOKYO (Nikkei)--A government committee debating energy options for Japan has failed to agree on whether nuclear power should be part of the nation's future after a series of discussions, leaving the final decision in the hands of politicians.
A subcommittee of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy on Thursday gave up on producing a unanimous opinion and decided instead to present five different proposals.
The panel will submit a report to the Cabinet Office's National Policy Unit, which will issue a decision after public debate.
The first of the five proposals puts the onus on consumers, letting them choose energy sources on their own. The remaining four plans differ in the degree of Japan's reliance on nuclear energy in 2030: zero, 15%, 20-25% or 35%.
Under the no-nuclear-energy scenario, such renewable sources as solar and wind are expected to generate 35% of all electricity, compared with 11% in fiscal 2010.
The 15% scenario, which is seen as the most realistic, assumes that no new reactors will be built and that all existing ones are scrapped after 40 years in operation. With renewable sources expected to make up 30%, the proportion of fossil fuels is 40% -- 20 percentage points lower than in fiscal 2010.
The 20-25% scenario puts renewable energy at 25-30%.
Under the 35% scenario, Japan relies more on nuclear power in 2030 than it did in fiscal 2010. This is expected to deliver the biggest reduction in its emissions of global-warming gases.
Since its establishment in October, the panel under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has met 24 times. Still, the pro- and anti-nuclear camps failed to bridge their differences.
In the end, panel Chairman Akio Mimura, who is also chairman of Nippon Steel Corp. (5401), decided to include the five scenarios in the report, saying none of them drew major objections.
The document will be passed along to the National Policy Unit by the end of the month. The unit will review upcoming Environment Ministry proposals for fighting global warming and the Atomic Energy Commission of Japan's plans regarding the nation's nuclear fuel cycle and select one option this summer.
But it is likely that the government will rule out the 35% scenario altogether, given that it contradicts the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's stated policy of reducing dependence on nuclear power.