Asian Conversations - an online magazine to explore Asia's future

What's that glow?

Prior to the devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Japan was generating up to 30 percent of its electricity from nuclear power with plans to go up to 41 percent by 2017, according to the World Nuclear Association. However, nuclear power dropped completely after the country's 54 reactors were closed following the Fukushima meltdown. Two reactors have since reopened, generating two percent of the country's power in 2012, according to Penn Energy. Some government officials are considering the quake-prone country should go entirely zero-nuclear, the Japan Times reports.

China, on the other hand, has embraced nuclear energy as an alternative to polluting fossil fuels. According to the World Nuclear Association, coal generates 80 percent of the electricity in the mainland, hydropower 15 percent. Nuclear power currently accounts for only two percent of China's total power output, but some PRC officials want that number nudged higher to five percent or more by 2020, China Business Review reports. China believes it can produce "cleaner" and "more efficient" nuclear power.

In the wake of public outcry over safety concerns at local plants and public anger over Japan's nuclear disaster, South Korea has put its main source of energy on the brakes. The energy ministry announced that the country will reduce its reliance on nuclear power to 29 percent of total power supply by 2035, down from a planned 41 percent by 2030, Reuters reports.

Less than four percent of electricity in India comes from nuclear power, the World Nuclear Association says. India once had ambitious plans to increase its nuclear capacity, but after Fukushima nuclear "populations around proposed Indian NPP sites have launched protests, raising questions about atomic energy as a clean and safe alternative to fossil fuels", the Asia Sentinel reports.

Just four percent of Pakistan's electricity is nuclear. However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed to push nuclear power, mainly to provide a low-cost solution to the incessant power cuts, AFP reports. Pakistan is building three large nuclear power plants with help from China. As The Wall Street Journal reports, "the reactors would help plug the gap in Pakistan's electricity supply and cement an alliance with China aimed at counteracting their mutual rival India." – Lorraine Chow