The Isogo coal-fired thermal power station in Yokohama Photo: Kaz Ish/Wikimedia
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Global coal phase-out raises viability questions about Japanese plants

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My house is powered by the sun. I also get around ¥30000 a month selling the excess.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

yet Japan appears to be going in the opposite direction

Seriously, pick a topic

Japan can go renewable and be successful at it if it takes a Japanese approach to local and regional power generation not what multinational companies tell it to do. For one, these coal plants can be converted to biogas, taking in municipal waste for energy like Sweden. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) from farmers and companies also entirely doable.

Solar and wind anyone can do. But many countries don't have readily available geothermal venting so that's a plus that all these plants can't design for because they are not from Japan. Japanese engineers can most certainly add that to the country's mix. Can also do small dig geothermal as the ground has a lower temperature than the surrounding air naturally, everywhere, so any tubing around a building 5m down can benefit as well. Every building, parking lot, and street can be designed with this in mind.

Also geothermal / hydrothermal / heliothermal ... all the thermals can be increased by taking advantage of what Japan has to offer. So many cities around the coastline can all do hydrothermal like Deep Lake Water Cooling example. Since a Japanese version would be salt water, it would hold even more energy. That would reduce the need for local gas/coal plants significantly and help city resilience during major disasters.

Pumped storage takes water up into a reservoir when energy is cheap and releases it to produce electricity on demand. Lots of world examples including in Japan already. Doesn't have to maim a mountain top and can be done with aesthetic considerations

All the plastic wrap in Japanese foods is a colossal waste product. Reduce the requirement and reduce the energy needed to manage it. Same with kerosene in homes. The campsites have to close. Time for homes to not be fire traps

The least Japan can do Japan can't do. But if it did, if it really tried, it would find no end of opportunities to change far in excess of many other developed nations

11 ( +14 / -3 )

I live in California and my PV solar system powers my 2300 ft2 household and two electric cars.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Make it compulsory for every house building to use and utilise sola panels on the roofs, this would help a lot.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Yep, regressing as usual. On a related topic, I have seen a lot of solar energy farms popping up everywhere. That's a good thing, you would think. That said, they are being built on farmland (which I thought would be precious here), in the middle of deep valleys, on north facing slopes, or in deforested patches surrounded by tall trees. None of the locations makes sense to me. I've looked closer at some of these and found they are, no big surprise here, not properly maintained. Not only that they are a blight on the landscape. Why would you put these next to a historical temple or in the middle of a residential area?! Oh wait...it's Japan. I wonder if power companies, or whoever, are pulling the same scheme on land owners as real estate companies are, with promises of prosperity.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The Abe regime wants to restart nuclear reactors. To get the public to accept this they push forward the ridiculous proposal to open 50 new coal plants, flying in the face of global warming. They hope a panicked population will have to accept nuclear. We won't. We want renewable energy, from solar in Kyushu to wind in Hokkaido.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Bio mass IE wood chip from waste pallets and timber and bamboo can be used, also what about food waste? this can be mixed into a liquid soup, put in a sealed container and the methane can be extracted and used as fuel for a generator, just think of how many restaurants, cafe, school canteens and homes there are producing food waste.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@ Selene

General Electric, an American company, merely supplied the blueprints and materials. The plant was built by Japan and a Japanese company, Tokyo Electric. Furthermore, experts, from Japan and in Japan, have been telling the government that due to release of new technology that the plant was no longer considered up to par and needed to be renovated. Because TEPCO did not want to shoulder the costs they used substandard safety regulation practices and ignored it dispite Japanese experts bringing this concern to them since the 90’s including up to the year the earthquake happened. The plant was built in the 70’s.

As for shifting away from coal. Japan and it’s systems have a heavy reliance on it so it is difficult to simply phase out something like that. The use of coal and it’s systems are an integral part of Japanese infrastructure and a shift would cost trillions so I can see why they are trying to go the cheaper route of upgrading the technology instead of replacing it.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

coal is not cheaper than renewables, so that argument has left the building

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Japan is ripe for solar and wind of course, but it can really make a killing in the other renewables given its natural resources and geography. Japan may be fossil fuel poor but it is renewable energy rich.

If you get a chance, talk to a Japanese engineer. I have, and find they've thought of many ideas but they know intrinsic interests stop it

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Brian Wheway Today  09:05 am JST

Bio mass IE wood chip from waste pallets and timber and bamboo can be used, also what about food waste? this can be mixed into a liquid soup, put in a sealed container and the methane can be extracted and used as fuel for a generator, just think of how many restaurants, cafe, school canteens and homes there are producing food waste.

Yes it's called a bio-digester. You put the food clippings and waste into a bin and it outputs methane that can be used as a cooking fuel. DIY homes tend to use those. Basically a composter. Lots of examples on Youtube. Really easy

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Nuclear is not the best but the most viable low carbon emission energy

The nuclear waste radiation lasts tens of thousands of years. The solar panel waste is a nice day. Pick one.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

The Japanese government and the power companies that fill their campaign coffers and offer amakudari jobs to former bureaucrats don't give two shakes for world opinion... It is a hermetically-sealed system. If we've learned nothing else from Fukushima, we've learned that.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Geothermal, solar, wind farms, hydro electric, tidal action. You get the picture Japan doesn't need nuclear or coal energy only the will to change

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan - a country with 21st century technology and a 19th century mentality.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

> JJ Jetplane Today  11:23 am JST

I said replacing the infrastructure and systems are more expensive. I did not say coal was cheaper than renewables

I don't need infrastructure to have solar panels. Or inverters to put excess electricity back into the existing grid like what happens the world over that have Feed In Tariff systems. Or solar thermal piping in the Walmart in Burlington Ontario for example saving energy instead because it can't lower prices anymore. Buildings are the arbiter of energy at scale, something fossil fuels cannot do. You can't have a nuclear or coal plant on every house or street.

Once energy is democritized it will change the way people think of their usage as well

I was going to Toshi station to pick up some power converters, coming?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nuclear is rather the best option for Japan.

Japan can go solar or wind, which as been the case recently.

But as I too often see here, it is also at the expense of existing forests, I have seen many exemples of trees being cut to build a solar energy plant/unit. Not used land or old rice fields should be used in priority.

As for the wind, I was ready to invest in a project but learned the windmill will be à the top of a mountain, and building a road through the forest is necessary

Nuclear is not the best but the most viable low carbon emission energy

1 ( +5 / -4 )

What is the alternative when people do not agree to reopen nuclear power plants in Japan?

All the sources of power that aren't coal or nuclear. There's a whole world out there for you to discover if you're not aware of them.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

What is the alternative when people do not agree to reopen nuclear power plants in Japan?

The trouble is that the public is given a limited number of options to choose from (the dialectic) when there might be alternatives which we are not told about. Take cars for example; we basically have a choice between petrol/gasoline, electric and diesel.

But there are inventors who have come up with more efficient, cheaper and cleaner water-powered cars. One was an Osaka based company called Genepax. The trouble is that using water as a fuel is more difficult to centrally control and profit from. Perhaps it's the same with coal powered plants, nuclear and other forms of energy which we haven't been told about?

https://www.collective-evolution.com/2018/01/04/the-inventor-of-a-water-powered-car-that-died-in-a-restaurant-yelling-they-poisoned-me/

These technologies usually get bought out and shelved, or the company/inventor gets shut down and so on.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Typo above Or inverters = Just inverters

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is no global coal power phase out- in China, India and many other countries particularly in South East Asia- coal fired power is expanding. China pretends a bit that some plants are closing but they aren't and have just said solar and wind have to compete on price so they have no chance. Solar and Wind to the percentage point supply zero of global energy use.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I kept seeing solar thermal panels on remote rooftops in western Japan. Water heating I think

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Read this article you wouldn't think coal plants emit radiation into the environment but they do more than an operating nuclear plant per megawatt.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"The plan entails air pollution by such contaminants as sulfur oxides," said Rikuro Suzuki, a 76-year-old co-head of a group opposing the planned construction. "The environment and public health should be given overriding priority," he said.

I'd support the phasing out of coal-powered stations and the reduction in pollutants like sulfur if there were a viable alternative. I have no idea how much of the harmful pollutants are filtered in these plants but one of the reasons that coal-powered stations continue to be used is that they are much more dependable than solar and wind power. As for CO2 it's beneficial for mankind and not a pollutant, although it's made out to be a villain.

If governments and business want to "fight global warming" then they should start by reducing water vapour (H2O) which is by far the biggest greenhouse gas -- think of the difference in night and day time temperatures in a desert (dry) and the same for any jungle or city in a tropical region (humid).

As for CO2, it is a greenhouse gas but a trace gas and is counted in parts per million in the atmosphere. It's also denser than other atmospheric gases so it returns to the earth's surface in a relatively short time. Plants, trees, crops and so on are healthier and larger and grow faster with more CO2. Another important point is that CO2 in the atmosphere actually follows global temperatures, it does not cause temperature fluctuation. And there is much more CO2 being emitted from natural sources than from man. In short, by cutting back on carbon emissions (not to be confused with other toxins) humans will make zero difference in "stopping climate change/global warming".

Just to be clear, a cleaner, less toxic environment would be great but this whole global warming/climate change thing has little to do with the environment and is more about taxation and restricting what people can and can't do. It's also great for politicians and business because of the money that can be made and legislation that can be introduced. Al Gore is good example of someone profiting handsomely from this, yet living a lifestyle which shows he doesn't believe his own propaganda.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Coal fired power plants aren't getting phased out there are a record number of them either in production or in the planning phase

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

What is the alternative when people do not agree to reopen nuclear power plants in Japan?

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

activated carbon adsorption equipment, which collects some sulfur oxides in the exhaust gas, 

Its not "carbon absorption equipment", there is no such thing, and no where to put it, just in case anyone was confused.

Yes Rubbish Dumps did indeed produce methane, as do rice fields, a much worse green house gas than carbon dioxide.

In Australia, and probably Japan, organics are now composted rather than rotted (anaerobic), and returned to the farmers, but as with all waste streams, reduction is best.

We even tried worm farms but it got too hot for the worms.

Your best bet is to return to Nuclear, just no more mistakes, eh !

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Without nuclear we can´t handle the future energy requirement. Renewable is a very expensive way for electrical production. Wind power do kill more people than nuclear ever has and never will do.

In Tjernobyl 28 was killed immediately while further 3 persons within seven days plus 10 children in Leukemi and 1 000 can live be lifelong medicination. Harrisburg and Fukushima noone killed. Compare that to 166 persons killed worldwide in Wind Power accidents. Even the requirement for raw material is higher re renewable plus that you never can estimate the energy production from wind power. One thing is the highly dependence on the speed of the wind. By 12 m/s a 3 MW plant do produce close to 3 MW but by 5 m/s just about 220 kW.

The radioactivity from Fukushima yeardoses of 120 mSv do increase the risk for lungcancer with 1 -2 percent while smoking increase it to 1 500 percent. You have areas in high density populated areas in India with a background radioactivity of 200 mSv quite more than Fukushima. Brittish expert have defined the evacuation unnessecary and the evacuated people was exposed for higher mental stress than if they haven´t been evacuated.

Af course that is risk with nuclear but it ought to be handled in a sensible way like IPCC says that this is a risk we can handle.

Coal do kill enormues amount of humans and the health risk is quite high.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It’s obvious that the only viable option is restarting the existing nuclear power plants. We shouldn’t waste time on such hoaxes as solar and wind powers. They won’t get anyone anywhere.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I said replacing the infrastructure and systems are more expensive. I did not say coal was cheaper than renewables

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

If you have access to coal, use it. There's enough clean technology available to make it a viable option.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

The Earth can handle coal usage. Global warming by man-made hands is a myth.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

To burn or not to burn that is the question, (Shakespeare)

Closing coal, yet burning rubbish in incinerators and bio mass at Nagano, hmmm

Here in New Zealand and Australia we just burn at source (forests), saves all that building of power plants.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Japan is a highly industrialzed country, its energy needs are such that it must tap into all types of energy resources, even if it means using nuclear and coal!

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Just phase out coal, and don't let the Americans build anymore nuclear plants in Japan! The fukushima plant was made by Americans, who build their reactors underground because of their tornadoes. Of course, Americans think for themselves and one, didn't adapt the location of the reactor to Japanese needs and two, wiped their hands after the disaster and left Japan in their firing line. The UK, however, builds the nuclear reactors above ground, apating to what the Japanese need, in case of disaster.

-25 ( +0 / -25 )

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