I have two comments about the July 24 Timeout article “Powering Japan’s future.” First, author Winifred Bird writes that the accuracy of the respective kilowatt-hour costs of generating electricity from coal, nuclear reactors, solar panels and wind — as estimated in 2010 by the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy — “has been heavily criticized because they conceal subsidies and other costs (Ritsumeikan University economist Kenichi Oshima puts nuclear power’s true cost at over ¥12/kWh).”
This cost does NOT include insurance against disasters of the Fukushima kind. Although such plant disasters are extremely rare (once every 10,000 years), they cause massive damage and thus need to be insured. This hasn’t been done due to political reasons. Studies made in the 1970s and again recently reveal that the true cost of nuclear power is above ¥200/kWh.
Second, Bird writes that the so-called feed-in-tariff law — by which utilities are required to pay a premium price for electricity from renewable sources and smaller hydroelectric plants — is common worldwide and that “a similar system recently helped Germany leap to the forefront of the solar market.”
As far as I’ve been informed, Germany was the first in the world to establish this law. So, it’s better to say that Germany helped itself and that the world adopted the law because of its success.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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