The need for a resilient energy policy in Japan

While the disaster continues to unfold in Japan, it is not too early to learn lessons for Japan’s future energy policy. One immediate lesson is that Japan may be taking too great of a risk by having a relatively large portion of electricity generated by nuclear power. As of March 16, four reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant have suffered significant damage. The March 11 earthquake and tsunami forced the shutdown of about 12 gigawatts of electricity generating capacity. In comparison, Japan’s nuclear power fleet has a capacity of 49 gigawatts; thus, about one-fourth of Japan’s nuclear generation was knocked out by the natural disaster. While most of that nuclear power will be brought back online eventually, the four damaged reactors at Fukushima Daiichi are still a major loss. Before the disaster, nuclear energy provided almost 30 percent of Japan’s electricity.

Read my article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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