We have seen the 2011 Fukushima Power Plant explosion replayed on Japanese TV news many times, and of course, it has changed the Japanese view of nuclear power for generations to come. Currently, the evidence clearly shows that uncertainties in politics, policy and new regulations are offsetting the benefits of atomic energy on the economic side. For decades, nuclear power was, for Japan, the US, France and many other countries, cost effective and a great long-term investment.
For Japan, with over 50 nuclear facilities, the burden of importing carbon based fuels was much lower since the 1970s when it embarked on a nuclear program. Japan and France were two countries that embraced nuclear power over the past 50 years, but now uncertainties are changing the path. There has been a sudden increase in safety standards, safety upgrades that cost money, increasing the need for investment. The troubling reality is that these 50 nuclear facilities will cost billions to disassemble and billions to keep updated for safety and usage. What does Japan do?
Our Views: The strength and leadership of the government of Shinzo Abe has been such that economic issues and military issues have been guided with ease. However, Mr Abe does not really care about nuclear plants and has not focused on them. Japan is now looking at US, UK and other countries for guidance on the future of nuclear energy. Other factors is nuclear fuel policy and uranium prices. Currently the long list of legal battles and the changes made to movement of nuclear fuels as some can be used for weapons – rules are much more strict now -adds to the weight of economic advantages. Nuclear energy will not be as competitive as it was in the past.