Japan is shutting down its last nuclear reactor Saturday, meaning a long, hot summer as the Japanese are forced to conserve a power supply that could fall 16% below demand. Oil- and gas-based power has been ramped up to ease the energy shortage—nuclear power provided one-third of the country’s electricity before the Fukushima Dai-ichi incident—but that is costing more than $100 million a day, and left Japan with its largest annual trade deficit last year.
As a result, more people are calling for renewable energy sources including solar, hydro, and wind, the AP reports. Germany raised its proportion of renewable energy from 5% to 20% over two decades, and "Japan can do anything that Germany can," says one official. The country is currently looking at a goal of 25% to 35% renewable energy by 2030; that number sits at about 10% now. But a lot of work must be done first, and the government has been slow to act. Some lobbyists are fighting hard for nuclear power, and many believe Japan will eventually be forced to restart the reactors. (Read more Japan nuclear plant stories.)