Japan’s announcement over the weekend that it would restart two nuclear reactors caused no small amount of consternation within the country and abroad. Seventy-one percent of the country opposes turning the reactors back on. They point out that the country has been meeting power demands just fine without the reactors online, and also note some of the challenges of using nuclear power. Such as earthquake/tidal wave combos that knock out power plants and lead to radiation leaks. That has happened before. In recent memory.
On the other hand, Japan is also moving to become a solar power heavyweight. A boom in the country’s solar market may soon move it past Germany and Italy to be the second-largest in the world. Bloomberg reports:
Industry Minister Yukio Edano set today a premium price for solar electricity that’s about triple what industrial users now pay for conventional power. That may spur at least $9.6 billion in new installations with 3.2 gigawatts of capacity, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast. The total is about equal to the output of three atomic reactors. Solar stocks rallied.
In other words, the Japanese government set a higher price for solar-generated electricity in an effort to spur generation. In 2011, Japan got 1.6 percent of its energy from renewables and added 1.3 gigawatts of new solar. The addition of as much as 4.7 gigawatts this year would nearly double the country’s existing solar output — but still not produce enough to completely replace nuclear in its energy mixture.
But it might be enough to take those two reactors back offline.