Japan nuclear power usage plummets in 2012 prompting coal, LNG to soar

Nuclear power consumption in Japan dropped approximately 27 percent in 2012, while as use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal hit records highs post-Fukushima.(Pictured: Kansai Electric Power Company’s Ohi nuclear power plant)

Nuclear power in Japan represented only 2 percent of electric generation in 2012, a significant drop from its share in 2010 as nuclear plants remained idled in the island nation. During the same period, Japan also utilized record amounts of coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

A report by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry for 2010 indicated nuclear energy generated 29.2 percent of the nation's electricity, while power plants using LNG, coal and crude accounted for more than 60 percent. After most of the country's nuclear reactors were shut down for safety audits post-Fukushima, nuclear energy accounted for only 2 percent of Japan's electricity mix in 2012. Japan's last operating nuclear reactor, Unit 4 at KEPCO’s Ohi power station, was shut down in 2013.

Japan is the world's largest importer of LNG and second largest importer of coal, behind China, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. With nuclear power consumption down, purchases for LNG reached record highs with more than 5 million tons in November - an increase of 8.6 percent year-over-year.

While imports of coal and LNG increased last month, Japan still plans to jumpstart its nuclear energy use, according to the EIA.

"Japan's current government wants to resume using nuclear energy with necessary safety measures," the EIA report said. "The government believes that the use of nuclear energy is necessary to reduce current energy supply strains and high energy prices faced by Japan's industries and end-users."

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