But the Japanese public were spooked anyway. For that reason, the government shut down almost all the nuclear plants. And for that reason, Japan started burning more fossil fuels to make electricity. And that led to skyrocketing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the country that hosted the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the aim of which was to reduce GHG emissions. As you can see in the chart above, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal GHG, from Japanese power generation by combustible fuels, skyrocketed: from just over 531 million metric tons in 2010 to nearly 650 million in 2012.
The above chart illustrates starkly the Iron Rule of Power Generation. When you remove a type of energy that provides large-scale, steady, 24/7 power generation from a modern power grid, you must replace it with another form of generation that has those same attributes. Which is to say, if you remove nuclear then you must replace it with some form of combustible fuel, usually coal, oil, or gas.
Japan is no different than any other country in this respect. The generators in its combustible fuel-fired generating fleet run on coal (31.5 percent), oil (18.5 percent), natural gas (46 percent), with a tiny amount of biofuels and waste (4 percent).
And, because of the nuclear meltdown, which to repeat has yet to produce a single casualty after 3,174 days, combustible fuel generation now makes up 89.5 percent of Japan’s power.
These numbers come from the OECD Electricity Information 2013 publication, p. IV.439.
That proportion will not drop until Japan faces its fears over nuclear, admits they are wildly out of proportion to the actual danger it poses, and returns its nuclear fleet to service.
Here is a table with the OECD numbers (again, from Electricity Information 2013, p. IV.439) that the chart above is based on.
Japan power generation in TWh, and carbon emissions
And here is a table that shows the CO2 emissions associated with each type of combustible fuel generation in Japan. For the specific CO2 emission factors applied to each fuel, see the Info box “How did I get the CO2 data?” above. Compare Japan’s CIPK of grid electricity with that of Ontario in Table 1 in the upper right sidebar.
Japan power generation CO2 emissions by fuel, million tons
|Biofuels & waste||0.00||0.00||9.45||13.68||19.89||32.22||33.30||33.30|
Compare Japan’s CIPK of grid electricity with that of Ontario in Table 1 in the upper right sidebar. If you want to know why there is such a difference, look at the amount of nuclear in Ontario’s electricity system versus that in Japan’s.