Heard a story on Marketplace this evening about the Japanese power grid since the Fukushima disaster. Seems that they shut down all atomic plants for safety inspections and afterwards local authorities have prevented any from restarting. Japanese utilities have been able to keep the lights on using gas and coal fired generators. The question remains whether they will be able to do that this summer when demand peaks. After 40 years of development, Japan has been getting half of their electricity from nuclear plants. Public approval of atomic power has been at polled 80% until Fukushima, now it’s 10%.
Japan has adopted ‘feed-through’ policies to encourage development on wind and solar capacity, first for domestic needs and then to sell abroad.
This will bear watching here, where political, if not popular support for new nuclear plants is extant. The hitch is that nobody dreams of building atomic reactors without huge public subsidies and indemnities. It will be interesting to hear candidates address this aspect of energy policy on the campaign trail this summer as we watch to see if peak-demand blackouts prompt the Japanese to reconsider their relationship with ‘our friend the atom.’