Japan to ditch nuclear power by 2040

The Japanese government has confirmed it will phase out nuclear power over the course of the next 30 years, following the massive earthquake and tsunami which caused a meltdown at the Fukushima power plant in 2011.

Late last week, prime minister Yoshihiko Noda confirmed the country's first comprehensive energy review since the disaster in March last year.
Under the plans, Japan's 50 existing reactors will be forced to shut down when they reach a 40-year lifespan. No new plants will be built, meaning that most reactors will be shut down completely by the year 2040.

To help fill the energy gap, Japan plans to boost the share of renewable power in its energy mix to 30 per cent. It will also aim to cut energy consumption by at least 10 per cent less than 2010 levels, by boosting energy efficiency measures.

However, as a result of the move, Japan is also expected to increase its reliance on fossil fuels in the short to medium term.

Japan's announcement means it will follow Germany and Switzerland in abandoning nuclear because of the Fukushima disaster, albeit at a slower pace.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has already permanently switched off 17 nuclear plants while another nine will be closed by 2022. But according to Reuters, Japan's government has estimated it would need to spend about 3.1 trillion yen more on fuel imports a year if it abandoned nuclear power immediately.