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Efficiency can't replace nuclear power

18 Comments
By Gerard Wynn

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Renewable energy contributes a rather small amount in both Japan and Germany, and it’s inevitable that a large chunk of lost nuclear will be replaced by cheaper fossil fuels.

Untrue. Renewable energy in Germany amounted to 20% of the total produced in the first half of 2011. In my book that is not a small amount and that indicates that there is a future for renewable, clean and risk-free energy.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Before Fukushima, nuclear power accounted for about 10% of primary energy consumption in each country.

Last time I checked it was between 26 and 30% (depending on sources), so I'm really puzzled where that 10% comes from.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

According to CIA The World Factbook:

Japanese electricity production: 937.6 billion kWh (2011 est.)

Japanese electricity consumption: 859.7 billion kWh (2011 est.)

The difference can be attributed to loss in transmission and distribution, but there definitely is some room for improved efficiency.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Exactly - making out Japan's shutdown of its nuclear plants as some sort of "green" victory is ridiculous. More fossil fuels will be burned to compensate for it, more GHG emissions, more global warming, People say they want to leave their children a cleaner, safer world without nuclear plants. Maybe, but increasing air pollution and warming up the planet do not seem to be things that we should be leaving our children.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Given that nuclear power is zero carbon-emitting, a phase-out will only make climate action, already lagging scientists’ warnings, more difficult.

When will people stop promoting this fallacy. Nuclear is absolutely not zero carbon emitting. The cost of mining Uranium (in third world countries), transporting it, working it up, processing it after it has been used, cleaning up the stuff and storing it for 10.000 years actually emits carbon. Nobody ever dared to make a study so we don't exactly know. Neither is this cost taken into account when talking about the so called cheapness of nuclear energy. Talking about a skewed discussion...

4 ( +7 / -3 )

sun is immense well of electricity. just convert this heat into electricity and start using real time energy.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Perhaps nuclear power gave Japan the ability to be a little more indulgent and wasteful with electricity.

Remove the nuclear power and it is amazing what you can do when you cut out the luxuries.

I do not think that efficiency can replace nuclear power as the article discusses, but efficiency can help bridge the gap to a growing new healthier and safer mix of energy for future generations.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It seems the author has based his analysis on numbers for overall energy consumption, including traffic and non-electric home heating, but tries to draw conclusions for electric energy only. That leads to skewed results. What is certainly true is that improvements in efficiency cannot compensate the loss of nuclear capacity which Japan is facing now.

In the long term, the move away from nuclear will probably delay the shift to all-electric vehicles. That shift will probably happen in about one decade from now, at a time when Germany plans to have completely replaced nuclear with alternative energy sources while Japan will still be stuck in the middle of the process.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These findings have wide error margins

If they're wider than 10%, most of the figures become meaningless. This analyst has made all sorts of assumptions which aren't necessarily valid, and as others have pointed out, it's rubbish to say that nuclear energy is entirely non-carbon emitting. You could only claim that if the entire process of building the nuclear plant and procuring the fuel was also non-carbon emitting. The author also is poor at quantifying why little can be gained through efficiency. If Japanese people want a nuclear free future, they need to start working on implementing efficiency savings and renewable power generation now. If Japanese researchers threw all their effort into developing practical nano-antenna solar panel technology, they could solve the power crisis and turn Japan's industrial challenges around. If not nano-antennas, any solar generation techology which makes solar power cheaper than other means of generation would be a no-brainer.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Efficiency can't replace nuclear power? Oh, yes, it can! Just wait. The alternative is more Fukushima's. That's your solution?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

There are some errors in this post. Japan was generating about 27% of total power from nuclear energy and not 10%?

Germany generates about 20% of total energy from renewables and is looking to increase that. The land mass of Germany and Japan are about the same but the Japanese population much greater. Nonetheless, Japan should follow Germany's lead in renewables.

There's no fast solution to replacing nuclear energy, if that is what the government decides when it releases its new energy policy at the end of July.

But starts on new plants, solar, wind and geothermal need to start, like now.

Even if some of the reactors are restarted, I doubt the country will ever return to using 35 reactors out of 54, prior to the 3/11 disaster.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The author might be correct. But we wouldn't know the truth unless we try out some of these renewable resources. And there's always room to improve the efficiency of energy production from these resources.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The articles statement about 10% (10-11%) of primary energy sources being nuclear is correct. I have stated this in comments before, but they always get voted down. I don't know if this is because people are not entirely sure what primary energy sources are.

Primary energy sources include all types of energy, not only those used for electric energy production . So this also include direct heating fuel, gasoline for cars etc etc.

It is a valid comparison, as if we use LNG to completely cover for nuclear power production, we will only increase our total use of fossil fuels by 10-11% not the 25-30% that nuclear proponents like to state.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

<><><>If you want to compare the choices between impacts of Nuclear power and climate change due to green house gases,you must vote for phasing out of Nuclear power as its impacts throws human life into irrerversibe mutated and cancerous progeny. so the arguments for nuclear power by the criminal and corrupt minds of mad industrialists,politicians and Bureaucrats must thrown to winds by substituting them with scientific reasons as presented in some of thde web sites from india.see web sites "DiaNuke.Org"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

But starts on new plants, solar, wind and geothermal need to start, like now.

again zichi speaks the truth.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan WAS working hard on renewable energy sources through most of the '90s. And then somehow talk of such programs disappeared, and we started seeing heavy promotion of policies that depend on nuclear power (e.g. the "yakan denryoku" night rates aimed at using some of the power that nuclear power stations generate round the clock, since nuclear power is very hard to adjust to temporaryl fluctuations in demand). When we started seeing glossy pamphlets from TEPCO being handed out to 3rd graders in school science lessons, I think it was fair to assume that government policy had done an about-face. But if they can flip-flop once, I suppose they can do it again.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Gerard Wynn seems to be rather one sided and ill informed?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

with all that wasted onsen water, the could make a lot of energy from that. or just wait for the cold fussion reactor

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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