• Kyodo News


Energy ministers from Pacific Rim economies will gather Saturday in the city of Fukui to discuss ways to ensure a stable supply of energy and improve its efficient use amid growing demand in the region’s surging economies.

Japan is also eager during the one-day meeting to use its role as chair of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to promote the importance of nuclear power as an energy source that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide in the generation process.

Fukui Prefecture is home to more than a dozen reactors.

It is uncertain, however, to what extent other countries will share this view. Australia and New Zealand, for instance, are focusing more on renewable energy sources, including wind and solar power, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official said.

The participants may also touch on the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the official said. The worst man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history led Washington to suspend new permits for drilling deep-water wells for six months.

The issue has kept the U.S. administration busy, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu is unlikely to show up for the APEC meeting. Instead, Daniel Poneman, a deputy secretary, is expected to attend.

Cooperation in the energy sector is a key issue for the APEC region, which accounts for around 60 percent of the world’s energy demand.

The International Energy Agency forecasts that global demand will increase by 40 percent between 2007 and 2030, largely because of consumption in the Asia region.

APEC has sought to enhance energy security under an initiative that calls for the need to share experiences on how to respond to temporary supply disruptions, and to try to improve energy efficiency and promote energy sources that would serve as alternatives to oil.

The region’s dependency on oil imports stood at 34 percent in 2005 and is projected to rise to 45 percent by 2030, according to the Asia Pacific Energy Research Center.

Japan, the United States and South Korea have oil stockpiles to prepare for emergencies, and Japan hopes to encourage coordinated stockpiling action in the region, the METI official said.

The discussions at the ministerial meeting are part of the process for formulating a growth strategy for APEC.

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