Japan’s shift from nuclear could impact Saskatchewan
Japan’s proposed move to phase out nuclear power over the next three decades could have a big impact here in Saskatchewan.
The country is proposing a new energy policy after the Fukushima meltdowns.
It is a major shift from Japan's decades-long advocacy of nuclear power. It calls for greater reliance on renewable energy, more conservation and sustainable use of fossil fuels.
Approving the new policy requires the approval of the entire cabinet. Japanese news reports the Cabinet has already agreed to the new policy.
Germany made the decision earlier this year to shut down nuclear plants in the country by 2022.
Energy analyst Tom Adams says this decision is part of a bigger movement
“This is really a global phenomenon. It’s by no means just a Japanese thing,” he said.
“In enough parts of the world, people are changing their minds that, I think really, we can say that the nuclear outlook is now very, very different than it was a year and a half ago.”
Japan is a big investor in uranium, especially for Saskatchewan-based Cameco. The world’s third-largest uranium producer saw its stocks fall nearly 50 per cent since Fukushima.
“Cameco’s stock plunged in the immediately aftermath of the Fukushima accident and has basically stalled. The stock has dropped substantially and it has not recovered,” said Adams.
In August, Cameco said the aftermath of the disaster would have little impact on their strategy of doubling uranium production by 2018. Tom Adams doesn’t think that’s the case anymore.
“Cameco has been talking a blue streak about how Fukushima doesn’t change anything but I just don’t buy it,” he said.
Japan began reviewing its energy policy following last year's disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which was set off by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
Before the accident, resource-poor Japan relied on nuclear power for one-third of its energy and had planned to raise that to 50 per cent by 2030.
"In the short term we don't expect a great deal of effect on our business," said Gord Struthers, spokesperson for Cameco.
There is a lot of reactor construction underway around the world, he said. In China alone, there are twenty-six reactors under construction, another ten in Russia and seven in India.
Cameco plans to go ahead with its goal to double uranium production by 2018, Struthers said.
Uranium prices fell almost 28 per cent since the disaster last year.
Edited by CJME's Lisa Schick, with files from Karen Yeske, Ashley Wills and the Canadian Press.