Michael Regan, the head of the US Environment Protection Agency, announced that as the United States and Japanexpand their cooperation to achieve decarbonization goals, advanced nuclear technology will be “critical” for both countries, according to Associated Press.
At a joint news conference following discussions with Akihiro Nishimura in Tokyo, Regan stated that nuclear energy is used in both of their nations and that “the opportunities for advanced nuclear technology will be critical if we’re going to meet our climate goals.”
“I think the science tells us that we have to respond to the climate crisis with a sense of urgency and nuclear energy and nuclear technology has and can have a role in continuing with a zero emissions contribution to the climate,” Regan stated.
Fumio Kishida, the prime minister of Japan, revealed last week that years after many of the nation’s units were shut down, he had finally instructed his administration to explore building safer, smaller nuclear reactors as part of a renewed focus on nuclear energy.
In order to support its “green transformation” initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide a reliable energy supply, Kishida emphasized that Japan needs to take into account all energy mix possibilities, including nuclear. Interestingly, by 2050, Japan pledged to be carbon neutral.
It is worth noting that after the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, anti-nuclear sentiment and safety concerns spiked in Japan. However, the government has been pushing for a return to nuclear energy amid concerns about a power shortage in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a global movement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Nonetheless, Japan has come under fire for declaring that it will phase out the use of fossil fuels by 2050 without providing a more detailed schedule.
The government of Japan had previously stated that it was not planning to build new facilities or replace outdated reactors, seemingly to avoid stoking criticism from a wary public. However, the country is focused on retaining a 20%-22% objective for nuclear energy as part of its energy mix until 2030.
By the end of the year, Kishida requested that a government panel decide on its proposal for the creation and construction of “new innovative reactors,” such as small modular reactors, while also recognizing the possibility of extending the operational lifespan of deteriorating reactors.
Along with accelerating efforts to achieve decarbonization and reduce chemicals, plastic pollution in the ocean, and other environmental problems, US and Japanese environmental leaders have committed to work together.
The Energy Provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, which Biden signed into law last month, intends to reduce costs by offering tax credits for homeowners who invest in energy-efficient equipment and for new purchases of eligible electric vehicles.
Current technology will continue to be crucial to achieving zero emissions targets “if we want to respond to the climate crisis in a timely manner,” Regan explained, even while wind, solar, and battery storage prices are declining and will dominate the future market.