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What's your stance on countries using nuclear power for their energy needs? Are there realistic alternatives and if so, what is the most efficient way to phase out nuclear power? Or is it here to stay

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Nuclear power is here to stay. No other source of power provides so much energy in the same compact size that can be placed where needed. Hydroelectric would be preferable, but you need potential energy (a dam).

The only realistic alternatives must include chemical storage of power for months. Perhaps solar energy can be used to convert methane/natural gas into H2, but solar and wind energy will never achieve the energy densities needed for average modern homes.

Long distance power transmission is extremely lossy - 50% too. That is a major consideration that is often forgotten. This is why wind and solar energy farms 1,000 km away from cities doesn't work. The wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine either.

The ideal solution creates power locally - where it is needed. It may use solar or wind or some other method to create H2 for local storage and pumping into vehicles. The Bloom Eenergy guys already do this sort of stuff. That isn't to say that large areas of the world are not ideal for solar or wind or wave or hydro-electric or geothermal energy. Sadly, where I live none of those make sense. Nuclear energy is a major source of power here, but so is coal.

Nuclear isn't just fission like we have today. In theory, fusion reactors would create non-harmful results. Someday humans will learn how to boil water with fusion for power.

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In the 70's in New Zealand, guess what the most controversial power projects were? Yes, you guessed it: hydo-electric power. Big environmental change. The big environmental concern now is carbon and global warming. Nuclear is a clear winner here because it doesn't emit greenhouse gasses. Wind and solar are not going to make a dent in the energy footprint anytime soon.

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Yes, Wind and Solar can and will "make a dent" as soon as we decide they will. Germany is shutting down nukes and revving up more and more Solar. Peppered through the western and inter-mountain U.S., there are plenty of "off the grid" homes. It's not that it "can" be done, it "IS" being done. Period. There's no other side of the story, it works and it's a proven success.. should we choose to acknowledge it. Solar+Wind+Battery Management System=Self Reliance.

But what about Thorium Molten Salt reactors? They don't melt down and the Thorium Fuel is way safer and more plentiful than Uranium or Plutonium. Texas, China and India already have this technology. It seems the only drawback is that you can't use them to create weapons.

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The present energy policy whether it be solar, wind or nuclear around the world is based on centralized power generation, but this method has a inherent loss through transmission of 50~60% depending on distance and transmission voltage, meaning we lose half of the energy generated at the source. This in part is to maintain the large electric utility companies that are also impediment pressure groups forcing the general public from decentralizing the present system. If homes and larger facilities were to adopt co-generation fuel cell electric generators, the loss becomes minimal improving the fuel economy leading to less CO2 emissions. For example, a household micro generator is able to generate 1KW of electricity and provide hot water and a mini generator for larger housing complex can generate 100~300KW. If 500,000 house holds and 1,000 condos were to adopt this system it is equivalent to generating 1,400 ~ 1,750KW at source. On top, these generators can be linked to solar power panels improving energy economy further.

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It is to stay. The new generation IV reactors are safe and efficient. For solar power, you need a lot of sun. That would shut down Japan during the rainy season. Wind power needs a lot of space and only works near the coastline.

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Nuclear power has been in decline for years now so obviously there are other alternatives

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Yeah, solar power? Any idea how many thousands of acres of plates would be needed to produce enough energy to supply 130 million people and the industries supporting them? Possibly, the 20k exclusion zone around Dai-Ichi would be a good area to start building. However, solar electricity is still extremely expensive to build and maintain.

The Dutch are going nuts with wind energy. However, with 2,000 odd wind vistas they are still falling short of their renewable energy target of 9% sufficiency. So, the population of the Netherlands is a little over 16 million. They have 2,000 wind vistas producing nearly 9% of the countries energy needs. There are 130 million people in Japan. How many thousands of wind generators would Japan need to power the country? I don't want to do the math on that one.

The most obvious choices for Japan are geothermal and hydro-electric energy. The technology already exists and it is proven to be cost effective, so why the heck haven't they instigated them? I guess they don't have the same prestige as nuclear power.
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Politically speaking, there is no way that the Japanese citizens will allow any additional nuke plant to be built in their territory. That is done deal.

The question is; how we get rid of all the existing nukes while replacing them with alternative source of energy. It has to be done strategically with clear short-, medium-, and long-term objectives, and managed in a way that decentrailization and specialization (e.g. more in-house generation, etc) are encouraged. At the same time, further efficiency should be achieved on the industrial sector (e.g. more energy saving consumer electronics, etc) to reduce the overall electricity needs.

In terms of alternative energey sources, we should go with; Short-term strategy: coal, petroleum, and natural gas, Midium-term strategy: geothermal, wind, and solar, and Long-term strategy: methane hydrate, aurantiochytrium, and other possibilities.

Japan currently relies 20% to 30% of its electricity on nuclear power generation; however, technically, we can abandon and replace all of them with backup thermal power plants that are already in the possession of the electric power companies. The will to do it is the only requirement.

Nonetheless, it is risky to rely too much on the conventional energy sources, as the cost will likely go up dramatically in the future (Not because of the global warming BS...). Therefore, we must start developing new ways to obtain thermal sources. Solar generation can fill up a significant portion of the household electricity needs. Geothermal and wind powers can feed energy to many of local districts; given that the National Park Law needs to be immediately amended to make that happen.

Meanwhile, further development should be proceeded with a long-term strategy to seek for more efficient and stable energy sources to replace fossile fuels that are required to run big cities and industries.

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It is simple. The world either adopts sustainability as the prevailing model, or we will exterminate our species in our garbage. The yardstick must be: will it ultimately benefit mankind and the planet?

The developed world has become addicted to too many labor saving conveniences.

If as much research was put into alternative energy research as we spend on war, the problem would be solved already.

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A diversified energy platform is the way to go Nuclear is here to stay! Thorium is the way to go, and is the best alternative which uranium isn`t the way! Gotta perfect Thorium.

If we can also just perfect fusion energy as well

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The more you take the energy control away from the Gov and the more citizens take control of their own energy issues --> the better off Japan will be.

Look into buying some Sharp panels. Buy one, implement it into your life and research what these can do for you. Then buy another.

Walking and riding a bike help also.

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The only way we will get rid of nukes is if we consume less energy, we use way to much. But western society is heavily addicted to energy, without serious changes in lifestyles its unsustainable in all likely hood.

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I think things will change and new technologies will make energy-making different.

I have heard that solar will be the wave of the future. It will not be harvested on Earth. Satellites will collect huge loads of it raw with no atmospheric interference and 24 hrs/day. Then it will be beamed down to Storing plants on Earth. The load will be unreal, and it will be possible to have all sorts of cheap, guilt-free clean electric fun w/o fossils or nukes. The technology for this is supposedly already in dvpment and will be coming online in another decade or two. Or so they say.

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so many reasonable comments here that there is no reason to add too much.

Japan was not dealt a great hand in the natural resources department, so it does what it can. Whatever course Japanese people reasonably choose to follow is fine for me. Up to now, nuclear power has meant independence for Japan as it has worked to free itself first from coal, and then from oil (it imports about as much oil now as in the 70s). It also fits Japan's "swords into plowshares" politics that it incorporates materials that were used in warheads elsewhere.

We had a geothermal accident here in Miyagi not too long ago, which killed at least one person. One more person than Fukushima Daiichi radiation, I guess. But there are advantages in geothermal obviously.

I believe the BloomBox requires natural gas, which Japan lacks. Solar is not efficient for northern areas (two rainy/cloudy days in a row) and older networks. Winds are generally not consistent, making wind systems difficult to finance. Still, Tohoku could probably generate huge surpluses from December through April from Kosa bearing winds, and other times from taifun.

Smart grids using the huge capacity of all those plugged in Prius batteries along with solar, hydro, wind, nuclear, and geothermal resources would be a great system, backed up by highly efficient small generators using diesel or jet engines might eventually be enough. More local means less loss.

The problems at Fukushima Daiichi are extremely valuable for the entire world, and I have remarked publicly that they could not have come at a better time in human history. Imagine. An extreme disaster that has been managed very well, but not well enough. At a very small price, it has forced the world to look into the mirror, and for once, the world does not like what it sees. We humans are resource hogs. Along with higher costs and risks of fossil fuels, this event will mark a turning point in energy development.

Japan has the capital and technology to make the next leap. Now it certainly has the motivation. This is an exciting time to be alive.

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Each country will have a different solution. For Japan, exploiting its Geothermal potential along with Solar and Wind could replace new Nuclear plants. However, it is unlikely there is any short term alternative to using the existing Nuclear plants.

Some have mentioned Thorium, it has benefits, but still there are both contamination dangers from an accident and long term storage concerns, further a decade or more of research and testing is required to bring it to commercial usage.

Fusion has the greatest potential for energy generation with few lasting waste products, problem is scientists and engineers have been working on the proble for 50 years and are still decades away.

Maybe the whole world needs to consider what sort of society we should live in, is it one where constant GDP growth can be replaced with something more sustainable and less energy intensive?

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Nobody mentioned Methane hydrate that is laying on the Japanese territorial ocean floors.It has been estimated that it can supply Japan's energy supply for 90 years.

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Nukes are here to stay, whether they are safe or not, but more and more people will choose to go off the grid, as pointed out above. Solar or wind powered communities are comepletely workable with current technology.

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Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate change commissioner, said declining cost of offshore wind energy makes it genuine alternative to crisis-hit nuclear industry.

She added: "Some people tend to believe that nuclear is very, very cheap, but offshore wind is cheaper than nuclear. People should believe that this is very, very cheap."

Offshore wind energy has long been seen as an expensive way of generating power, costing about two to three times more than erecting turbines on land, but the expense is likely to come down, while the costs of nuclear energy are opaque, according to analysis by the European commission.

Also, according to a new study by two researchers at Duke University, the Holy Grail of the solar industry — reaching grid parity — may no longer be a distant dream, Solar may have already reached that point, at least when compared to nuclear power.

If you refer to the cost curve seen on the webpage, entitled "Study: Solar power is cheaper than nuclear", you might easily come to the conclusion that the nuclear power is not an option. (costs for building new nuclear power plants have ballooned, plus, they are about to become even more expensive as new designs require ever more stringent safety features.)

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@SamuraiBlue !

"The present energy policy whether it be solar, wind or nuclear around the world is based on centralized power generation, but this method has a inherent loss through transmission of 50~60% depending on distance and transmission voltage, meaning we lose half of the energy generated at the source"

Sumitomo Electric Develops Superconductive Cable With 50% More Efficiency (Bloomberg)

Bloomberg reports that Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. has developed wiring able conduct approximately 50 percent or about 1.5x more electrical current capacity than existing superconductive cables. The company says its bismuth-based high-temperature superconductors can transmit 200 times the electrical current of copper cables when cooled with liquid nitrogen, resulting in less wiring being needed to transmit power. The technology will allow for more efficient connections with renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, says Sumitomo.

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@SamuraiBlue !

" The wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine either."

a. Sumitomo Electric Industries succeeded in developing a molten-salt battery that’s supposedly 90% cheaper to produce than lithium-ion batteries. The rechargeable battery is said to have twice the energy density of a typical lithium ion battery. Sumitomo expects the new battery to be priced at about $240 per kWh, about 10% of the price of made-in-Japan lithium-ion batteries.

b. That might be why countries are spending tens or hundreds of billions of dollars on the smart grid.

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@hsr0601

Using super conductive material for high power wiring is neither economically or technologically possible since the entire wiring needs to be kept immersed in liquid hydrogen. The cost will completely defeat the purpose and I do not know of any refrigerating method that can keep it cool for such a long distance.

The battery can only be used at large facilities and to melt salt requires an intense heat source again meaning there is an economic challenge. Production maybe low but the operation cost must be mad.

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@SamuraiBlue !

I'm just one of the proponents for renewable energy, not an engineering expert, and so I have no deep knowledge of engineering, literally accept updates.

But I've never seen a hyperbole for Japanese newest innovations on the web.

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It is by the human race's uncanny tendency to develop culture, civilizations, and technology that we can construe some sort of purpose in this world. If we don't choose to run to the hills and be a hermit than we aren't objecting. If we live in our environments in total bliss than we must be ignorant. If we live indifferent than we may not complain. If we choose to use our creative cognitive capacities to their fullest potential than it becomes obvious that its neither about complacency nor idealism. It's quite simply about attempting to improve the systems that contain us. CLEARLY, there is a general human vision that is without a guide. There is no one vision, and yet from an outsider, it would appear that we were quite fervently guided. If we don't attempt to make the world a safer, and more happy place for the future, how can we look our children straight in the face. Anyone who knows about engineering knows that nuclear energy is highly efficient IF there is not accident. The problem is, humans consistently show signs of fallibility. Planet Earth is quite unpredictable in addition to that. Alternative energy is of course the way to go. It's a no brainer. Implementing its uses would obviously take decades. But no economies need to suffer, nor do people need to suffer electricity shortages, if people embrace the change. Truly, a man like John Lennon is sorely missed. I can recall all kinds of highly articulate and charismatic novelists and public speakers, pundits, politicians, etc. But none were as intelligent as him. Change. Massive Change. Can literally happen overnight. It just needs enough people to embrace it. Our modern era is swimming with awareness. I await the day when the personality trait of 'apathy', or the perception of 'it's complicated' are as universally disliked as a fart to the face.

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