Tepco chief warns against complete nuclear opt-out

The president of Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), Naomi Hirose is trying to persuade Japan’s leaders not to dispense with nuclear power, despite public opinion after Fukushima.

The Japanese government is currently finalising a new national energy strategy and leaked discussions in recent weeks point to an abandonment of nuclear altogether, with a massive investment in renewable energy in its place.

Naomi Hirose of Tepco

The target is likely to be highly qualified: a commitment to end Japan’s dependence on atomic energy, but on a schedule measured in decades or not defined at all. One newspaper reported that a timeframe would not be decided for another three years.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Hirose said more uncertainty over the future of atomic energy would make it difficult for his company and other utilities to invest and secure funding from creditors. That could impose higher costs on customers and the government, which took control of Tepco in a Y1tn ($12.7bn) bailout this year.

He also added that the alternative fuel sources the company were having to use were dirty and costly to run.

“We’ve had to use every method we have [to produce enough electricity],” he said. “We’re using old diesel generators that cost a fortune to keep fuelled and belch huge amounts of carbon dioxide.”

The FT reports that sticking with nuclear power for at least another decade or two could give utilities time to develop affordable new energy sources.

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