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2012年1月23日 (月)

エネルギー政策 電力危機の回避を最優先せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 23, 2012)
Priority must be given to avoiding energy crisis
エネルギー政策 電力危機の回避を最優先せよ(1月22日付・読売社説)

How can we secure the energy that is essential for our daily lives?
 国民生活に不可欠なエネルギーを、どう確保していくか。

This year will be an important one to solve this thorny issue.
今年は、この難問を解決せねばならない重要な年である。

The aftereffects of the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant continue to be felt.
 東京電力福島第一原子力発電所の事故の影響が続いている。

Power companies whose nuclear reactors are suspended for regular checkups cannot resume their operations even when the checks are completed.
定期検査で停止した原発を検査終了後も再稼働できない。

If this situation continues, all of the nation's 54 reactors will be stopped by late April, sending Japan into the emergency situation of losing 30 percent of its electricity supply.
このままでは4月下旬にも全54基の原発が止まり、電力の3割を失う非常事態に陥る。

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has repeatedly said the government will allow reactors that are confirmed to be safe to resume operation.
 野田首相は、安全を確認できた原発を再稼働させると繰り返しているが、

In reality, however, there is no prospect of realizing this.
実現のメドは立っていない。

Noda should have a strong sense of crisis and wield his leadership to get these reactors operating again soon.
首相は強い危機感を持ち、原発の早期再稼働に指導力を発揮するべきだ。

 ◆原発再稼働が急務だ◆

A survey by the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) showed that if the electricity shortage continues for two to three years, 60 percent of the nation's leading manufacturers will cut back or halt domestic production.
 経団連の調査では、電力不足が2~3年続くなら、製造業の6割が国内生産を縮小・停止させるという。

The power shortage will exacerbate the hollowing-out of industry and the decline in jobs.
電力不足は、産業空洞化と雇用の減少を引き起こす。

There is also a limit to how much thermal power generation can make up for the loss of nuclear power, due to the huge economic loss that would result from the additional fuel costs involved, estimated to total more than 3 trillion yen a year across the nation.
 原発に代わって火力発電で供給能力を補う対応にも限界がある。追加の燃料費が全国で年3兆円以上もかかり、経済的な損失が大きいためだ。

To pay its increased fuel costs, TEPCO plans to raise its electricity rates by an average of 17 percent for large-lot users such as factory operators and business offices, starting in April.
 東電は増えた燃料費を賄うため、4月から、工場やオフィスなど大口契約者向けの電気料金を、平均17%値上げする。

The utility is also studying the possibility of raising the charges for general households.
家庭向けも値上げを検討中だ。

Higher electricity rates will result in higher production costs, which will weaken companies' management vitality and competitiveness.
 電気料金の上昇は生産コストに跳ね返り、企業の経営体力と競争力を弱める。

They will also increase the burden on private households, putting a damper on individual consumption and other domestic demand.
家計の負担も増え、消費などの内需を冷やす。

Resuming operation of nuclear reactors that are confirmed to be safe is essential to prevent an economic slowdown triggered by power shortages.
 “電力不況”を防ぐためにも、安全が確認された原発の再稼働は欠かせない。

The central government has a responsibility to ensure the safety of reactors and win the understanding of local governments for their resumption.
各原発の安全性を国の責任で確保し、地元自治体などの理解を得る必要がある。

===

Concrete measures lacking
 ◆現実的な電源構成示せ◆

A drastic review of the nation's energy policy will be a major task.
 エネルギー政策の抜本的な見直しが大きな課題となる。

Noda has indicated his policy of lowering, over the middle and long term, the nation's dependency on nuclear power.
首相は、中長期的には原発依存度をできるだけ下げる方針を示しているが、

But when it comes to concrete measures, he remains vague.
具体策はあいまいだ。

The government will compile a new energy strategy this summer.
 政府は今夏、新たなエネルギー戦略をまとめる。

Yet with too many councils and conferences deliberating the issue in a disorderly way, the discussions are scattered.
審議会や会議が乱立し、議論は拡散気味である。

We hope Noda displays leadership and presents a clear policy regarding where the nation's electricity should come from in the future.
首相が主導して、将来のあるべき電源構成について明確な方針を示してもらいたい。

Expectations are high for such renewable energies as solar power and wind power.
 太陽光や風力など再生可能エネルギーへの期待は大きい。

From the viewpoint of domestic self-sufficiency in energy and protecting the environment, more widespread use of such energy is desirable.
エネルギーの国内自給や環境保全の観点から、普及拡大が望ましい。

Yet excluding hydropower, these sources account for merely 1 percent of total power generation, and currently cost more to produce than other types.
 だが、水力を除けば全発電量のわずか1%で、現状では発電コストも割高だ。

Also the amount of power generated depends on weather conditions.
天候などによって電力が大きく増減する弱点もある。

It will take a long time for such sources to become major power providers.
基幹電源に育つには、長い年月がかかるだろう。

The creation of goals regarding the optimum composition of the nation's future electric power sources must be done in a realistic manner, taking into account a comprehensive range of requirements, such as stable supply, economic efficiency and safety.
 電源構成の将来目標は、安定供給や経済性、安全性などを総合的に考慮した、現実的な内容としなければならない。

The government has decided abruptly on a policy of having nuclear reactors decommissioned, in principle, after 40 years in operation.
 政府は唐突に原発を原則として稼働から40年で廃炉にする方針を決めた。

Although the policy includes an exception that would allow reactors to operate for up to 60 years if necessary, the decision on a 40-year lifespan without any prospects for alternative electricity sources must be called irresponsible.
60年まで延長できる例外規定を設けるというが、代替電源のあてもなく「40年廃炉」を打ち出したのは無責任だ。

The government should include the option of replacing superannuated reactors with new, safer models.
 古い原発を安全な新型炉に更新する選択肢も示すべきである。

===

Nuclear experts may leave

Once the government adopts a policy goal of "reducing to zero" the number of nuclear plants, there will certainly be an exodus overseas of the country's specialists in nuclear energy.
 政府が将来の「原発ゼロ」を掲げてしまうと、原子力分野の人材が海外に流出するだけでなく、

In addition, it will become extremely difficult to develop the next generation of nuclear experts.
後進も育たなくなる。

As a result, the nation's nuclear technologies would decline, and it would become difficult to ensure the safety of existing plants or decommission them.
技術は衰退し、既存原発の安全操業や廃炉さえ困難になりかねない。

Newly industrializing countries such as China have been going ahead with projects to boost the number of their nuclear facilities.
 中国など新興国は原発の増設を進めている。

This country should support their aims by keeping Japan's nuclear technology advanced, and exporting safe nuclear plants and providing other countries with reliable know-how about plant operations.
日本は高い技術を維持し、安全な原発の輸出や操業ノウハウの提供で貢献すべきだ。

The government has also embarked on reform of the electricity supply system.
 政府は電力制度改革にも着手した。

A key task in the reform is the separation of electricity generation and transmission--utility companies currently handle the entire process from power generation to transmission.
電力会社が発電から送電を一貫して行う体制を見直す「発送電分離」が主要テーマだ。

Discussions are being held about the advisability of the current formula for determining power charges, in which rates are based on utilities' estimates of the cost of power generation plus a certain percentage of profit.
電力会社の見積もった経費をもとに電気料金を決める「総括原価方式」の見直しも議論されている。

It is reasonable to reduce costs through the introduction of market principles.
 競争原理を導入してコストを軽減する狙いはいい。

Is there no danger, however, of hasty reform efforts destabilizing power supplies?
だが、性急な改革で電力供給が不安定になる恐れはないだろうか。

We should bear in mind such incidents as the large-scale stoppages of electricity that took place frequently in California about a decade ago. The blackouts were said to be due partly to the adverse impact of electricity service reform in California, such as a delay in renewing transmission facilities after the separation of power generation and transmission.
 10年ほど前に米カリフォルニア州で頻発した大規模停電は、発送電分離に伴う送電設備更新の遅れなど、電力改革の副作用が一因とされる。

We should draw lessons from these experiences.
教訓としたい。

Meanwhile, reform of TEPCO's management is urgently needed.
 東電の経営改革も急務だ。

Thanks to the establishment of the Nuclear Damage Compensation Facilitation Corporation partly funded by the government, payments of compensation for victims of the Fukushima nuclear crisis have been secured at least for now.
政府などが出資する原子力損害賠償支援機構の設立で、被害者に対する当面の賠償資金は確保された。

Costs for such tasks as decommissioning the Fukushima plant, however, are excluded from financial assistance from the compensation corporation.
 しかし、福島原発の廃炉費用などは支援機構による資金援助の対象外だ。

Although TEPCO plans to secure 2.6 trillion yen over the next 10 years by restructuring its business to cut costs, it is impossible for the utility to pay the colossal expenses of decommissioning and other efforts solely through management reform.
東電は10年で2・6兆円のリストラを行うが、経営努力だけでは巨額の費用を賄えない。

===

Govt must share burden
 ◆国も事故コスト分担を◆

The government plans to place TEPCO practically under state control by pouring funds into the utility through the damage compensation body.
 政府は支援機構を通じて公的資金を注入し、東電を実質国有化する方針だ。

The de facto nationalization of TEPCO is considered necessary to prevent its bankruptcy, so it can fulfill the three all-important tasks of settling the nuclear crisis, compensating victims and ensuring stable power supplies.
経営破綻を防ぎ、東電に事故収束、損害賠償、電力安定供給という三つの責務を果たさせるために必要な措置といえる。

However, there is the risk that under state control TEPCO could plunge into a vicious circle of expanding losses and the need for ever more financial aid from national coffers.
 ただし、損失拡大と追加支援の悪循環に陥る恐れがある。

The planned nationalization of TEPCO must be coupled with studies about the wisdom of creating a new system in which the government would always share the financial burden for such undertakings as plant decommissioning and nuclear decontamination.
国有化を契機に、廃炉や除染などのコストを、国がきちんと分担する仕組みを検討すべきだろう。

Full-dress discussions must be encouraged concerning the validity of the Nuclear Damages Compensation Law, under which power utilities are fully liable for all compensation for a nuclear accident, as well as the pros and cons of running the nuclear power generation business under government protection as part of national policy.
 原発事故の賠償責任を民間電力会社だけに課す原子力損害賠償法の妥当性や、原発事業の「国策民営」の是非などについても、本格的に論議しなければならない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 22, 2012)
(2012年1月22日01時16分  読売新聞)

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