• Kyodo

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The government plans to announce in its long-term energy strategy that renewables are a “major” energy source while continuing to support nuclear power because of its zero carbon emissions, a draft of the plan said Friday.

The industry ministry presented the draft to a roundtable of experts studying the nation’s energy policy through 2050, calling renewables an “energy source whose possibility of becoming a major (source) is greatly increasing.”

Although attention has been on whether a raw breakdown of the country’s future energy mix will be included, the government is likely to postpone setting such numerical targets.

The most recent targets set out in 2015 seek to have renewable sources account for 22 to 24 percent and nuclear 20 to 22 percent of electric power generation in fiscal 2030.

The government is expected to finalize the long-term energy plan in April at the earliest.

The formulation of the plan comes as Japan aims for an 80 percent cut in emissions by 2050 from 2013 levels under the Paris climate accord.

Observers say resource-poor Japan, which has focused on developing nuclear and thermal power, has lagged behind the global trend to invest in renewables.

The government said renewable energy such as solar and wind power should be at the center of the country’s energy plan given falling costs and technological progress in the field.

Renewable output, which tends to be influenced by the weather, could become dependable by storing surplus energy in batteries or changing it to hydrogen, the draft said.

As for nuclear power, the government said it will not change its stance to lessen dependence on such energy as much as possible following the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

But at the same time it noted the importance of continuing to develop safe nuclear reactors and train personnel in the industry, seeing atomic power as a clean energy source that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide.

While thermal power generation remains important, the draft said inefficient coal plants will be phased out with more focus on gas plants.

The long-term plan for Japan’s energy policy through 2050 is set to be reflected in a separate energy plan until 2030, due to be finalized this summer.