Nuclear shut down had a limited impact on the Japanese economy in 2013
In 2013, and for the third consecutive year, Japanese power production remained very dependent on fossil fuels. Electricity production from nuclear remained marginal (1%) as Japan, which used to generate 25% of its electricity from nuclear before Fukushima accident, took almost all of its operable nuclear reactors offline. The last two reactors in operation in 2013 (units 3 and 4 of Kansai Electric’s Ohi power plant) were shut down for maintenance and inspection in September 2013, leaving the country without any reactors in operation. In 2012 Japan derived about 80% of its electricity from fossil fuels (compared to 60% in early-2011), which pushed imports of fossil fuels to a record high in 2012. In 2013 the situation has stabilized: the contribution was stable and fossil fuel imports were flat. For the third year in a row, natural gas has been the largest source of energy for electricity production, contributing to more than 40% of the electricity production, compared to only 26% in 2010. However, gas contribution was stable compared to 2012 and Japan turned to coal (+2 percentage points) because of its lower cost and availability. This trend could continue in the future as power utilities announced in March 2014 their plans to build several coal-fired power plants by 2027. Japan has reported in 2013 a record energy bill (+11% compared to 2012). However, this is hardly linked to the shut-down of nuclear reactors, as the imported volume decreased but was mainly spurred by a weak Yen. CO2 emissions remained stable in 2013 after an increase of 9% between 2010 and 2012. The adequacy between power supply and demand, the achievement of CO2 emissions reduction objectives, the increase of the energy independence and the decrease of the global energy bill remain important challenges linked to nuclear. The recent Basic Energy Plan which overturns the decision of the previous government to shut down all nuclear power plants over the next decade shows the difficulty for Japan to face economic and environmental challenges without nuclear.
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