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Gov't aims to abandon nuclear power by 2030s

37 Comments
By Risa Maeda and Aaron Sheldrick

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In a speech at the UN in 2009, Loopy hatoyama promised to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 25% by 2020.

I would like to see loopy hatoyama came to public explain how his party intends

eliminate 25% of the emission of carbon dioxide by 2020, while

you have a government promise to stop using nuclear power by 2030, it seems to me shortly

transition time.

Seems more a coup Dirty DPJ to sabotage the next government.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

I'll believe it when I see it. They have mentioned the extra expense involved in using alternative fuels and they have also mentioned the high cost of decommissioning the nuclear plants, but they have failed to mention where the money is gonna come from to achieve it. With a rapidly declining and aging population, who is gonna pay for it?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japan should follow the German model. At peak usage they were able to sustain 50% of their country's need on solar and wind. Japan should also try and develop tidal and current technologies since they are close to the ocean, as well as more geothermal.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This can spark a revival in Japan's fortunes. If the (future) government commits to this, then companies like Panasonic and Hitachi (and others) can invest heavily in research knowing that there will be a pay-off due to demand in the future.

If these companies can devise ways to capture and store large-scale energy from solar power (e.g. in the form of large batteries that don't overheat) then you'll see millions of households switch over, powering their TVs, hot showers, air-con and electric cars from solar energy captured at home.

Consumers will probably not have to source energy from one, monopolized provider like TEPCO either (which is why the established power companies oppose it). If Japan can do this it will also boost the electric car industry, due to easier access to recharging points (ie.e you can do it at home overnight), and both technologies can be sold around the world - boosting Japan's economy, making Japan less reliant on China, and contributing significantly to a cleaner planet.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Hatsoff... you are right on the money! I'm only concerned with the word "aims"... a very vague term. Could be 2030 or could be 2100...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Kuroshio current is a constant flow of water that could be a very promising and stable source of power. Turbines set on the sea floor would be deep enough not to interfere with fishing or ship-ping, and would be safe from typhoons. Another massive tsunami might be a problem, but even so sweeping the seabed clean of turbines would not contaminate the food supply or leave vast swathes of the land uninhabitable. I say go with marine renewables.

Japan is about to set up the Japan Marine Energy Centre, supported by the UK EMEC, to develop marine renewable energy. The country is surrounded by water, so marine energy holds enormous potential. Added to solar, on-shore hydro and geothermal, it should be more than enough to fill the gap left by nuclear.

http://www.orkneymarinerenewables.com/news.asp?newsid=105

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Might as well announce to wait 18 PM's later to avoid making a decision when only two are being restarted now and can be shutdown now since there were no blackouts. Could have started this year not 18 years from now. This is so useless as to be a joke.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's far from a done deal. Over the next 20 to 40 years, how many gov't's/PM's would that be? If the LDP are returned to office at the next general election, it will most likely reverse the decision since it's been in the pockets of the power companies for decades.

I'm not sure the DPJ could win an election just on this one issue.

Renewable energy will have a greater part than in the past but a LDP gov't would probably reduce the levels of the new FIT's?

TEPCO believes it has a nuclear future and is spending hundreds of millions rebuilding it's second Fukushima plant which was badly damaged by last year's earthquake and tsunami, even though the governor of the prefecture has stated he will ever again give his permission for a single reactor restart. The governor of Niigata has also stated his opposition to restarting the TEPCO plant there.

Even if the LDP wins the next election and reverses the decision reactors could be shut down by default when they reach the end of their life cycle because very few prefectures will be willing to have new atomic plants.

The power companies have not set aside the money to decommission the reactors even though it's included in the cost of power from nuclear energy. The taxpayer should not have to pay the cost, especially since it will pay the cost of the nuclear disaster.

TEPCO have created an expert panel, to be headed by it's president, Naomi Hirose to "reorganise it's nuclear division" including a review of all the safety standards at it's atomic plants. The panel members include Dr Kenichi Ohmae who made an extensive investigation into the nuclear disaster and former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Dale Klein.

This week,TEPCO disclosed 600 new photos taken after the Fukushima plant was struck by the huge quake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, which triggered the three meltdowns at the site. They are available on their website.

America, France and Britain have expressed concerns over the zero nuclear energy option because they all make money from Japan's nuclear industry. France and Britain are concerned Japan will refuse to take back spent nuclear fuel sent there for reprocessing?

The decommissioning of the reactors would greatly increase the problem of long term storage which the country has not resolved. The gov't suggested burying them for the next 50 years but this was met with deep dismay from Japanese scientists. France and Britain might refuse to reprocess any more spent fuel of the concern Japan won't take it back.

There's also the problem of the 70 tons of high grade plutonium Japan currently holds.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Tohoku Electric Power Co., Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Japan Atomic Power Co. would all go bankrupt without their reactors.

There needs to be a new ministry for Renewable Energy and the yearly gov't energy R&D grant of ¥500 billion usually given to the nuclear village should be used for that.

I don't believe for a single second, the DJP are serious about the zero nuclear energy option and if it were to win the next general election it  would come up with a pile of excuses not to proceed nor proceed at a very slow time cycle.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

With or without nuclear energy, the country needs to generate a greater percentage of it's power from renewable energy. Solar, wind, biomass and biogas, geothermal. The country could produce a million tons of biogas every year.

The levels of CO2 and greenhouse gases could be reduced by power efficiency and a target of a 15% reduction in power demand could be achieved.

All major companies should be generating 20%-30% of it's power needs from renewable energy. Better building standards for new homes and tax breaks for green buildings.

For domestic users, the installation of solar panels will be the most popular because of the ease of the installation, the falling prices of the panels and highest FIT payments but for apartment dwellers solar panels are not an option. There are other methods like micro gas turbines, about the size of a fridge which can generate power up to 5,000kW. This could be installed in many apartment blocks to provide power and they can use biogas. They are also 80% energy conversion efficient.

The country needs a new ministry for renewable energy to advance the use of the energy, for R&D and for co-ordinating policies.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

don't forget conservation. 20-30% savings doesn't entail hard lifestyle changes and means less production required to begin with.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

An excellent decision by the people of Japan. We've been demonstrating and demanding its removal from Japan's energy policy everyday for MONTHS. The media here, especially NHK, has ignored us, we have shouted louder. 100s of 1000s of us. That equates to millions here AND... We got what we wanted. Readers, if you don't live here, you don't understand the fear, rational, real, daily. When you have schools in Akita having 'Let's support Fukushima!' school meals soley made from ingredients sourced from Fukushima --without parents consent!--, when you have companies blending Fukushima milk with other regions milk to be supplied to schools in the Tokyo Metro area: Inagi, Fuchu, Machida, Setagaya etc... And the burning of gareki (Tsunami debris) in the Tokyo Metro area and as far away as Kyushu which is contaminated with radioactive nuclides... well NO TO NUCLEAR. That isn't UNCLEAR is it? When you have Albert Einstein saying it's a 'stupid way to boil water' I am going with that. Where the consequences are so horrific, so daunting, so expensive in so many ways then an industry like this can NOT be run for what all industry aims to achieve, profit via scraping for the bottom dollar. We'll be fine in Japan. Softbank is already pioneering a massive solar park, other compaines are joining the reality, nuclear energy in its present form is STUPID, notably in the world's most seismic active country. So, again, if you Don't understand the fear, you don't understand the problem. Good riddance to the Boomer's 'magic atom'.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

What is really needed is a change of values and valuation. For the last number of decades, GDP driven economic growth is the holy grail of economists and politicians. To increase GDP, all you have to do is grow the population, maintaining energy consumption, maintain the population, growing energy consumption, or doing both, which has been the approach most wealthy countries have chosen.

Japan, and other countries at a slower pace, is graying and is set to have a declining population. This will be the first time in the history of capitalism for a society to do so. With a shrinking population, the only way to increase growth is to consume excessive amounts of energy to make up the difference. Using fossil fuel energy, this is not possible because of man-made climate change and dwindling easily accessible resources. Nuclear is too risky, too expensive and there is that not tiny problem of what to do with the waste, that we don't read much about in the news. Sustainable alternatives will take time and capturing and storing their energy is still a challenge.

So the only real option is to abandon the GDP model. As long as growth is god, there is no option but for Japan to over-consume energy (which is why Japan quickly abandoned energy conservation measures as soon as possible after the summer of 2011, despite having to pay higher energy costs). Or it risks falling into a permanent depression (minus growth) with declining living standards (which today are judged by how much we are able to consume, as if this is the only measure of life quality).

People who can't think outside the box will consider this idealistic, but it is anything but. Do the math! Tell me how a country such as Japan (with a shrinking population on a finite planet) can continue to grow and thus receive a positive valuation based on a GDP model?

Going forward, the health of a society' economic activity must be valued in a different way, such as how little it damages the environment, how fairly wealth is distributed, how safe the water and food are, how children and the elderly are taken care of, etc... Funny thing is, if you ask people around the world, they will tell you that this makes for a healthy society, not the kinds we have created based on a GDP growth valuation.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In a speech at the UN in 2009, Loopy hatoyama promised to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 25% by 2020.

I would like to see loopy hatoyama came to public explain how his party intends

eliminate 25% of the emission of carbon dioxide by 2020,

Ever hear of the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami? I can not understand how people fail to take into account current events that affect how governments try to run their country.

I am quite sure that Hatoyama would not have made these remarks if he had a crystal ball foreseeing the events that have forced the government to reconsider their options.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Govt needs to publish a list of nukes plants, their ages & date for decommission, those nuke plants over 30yrs old now MUST start to be shut down for good.

Then those on the most dangerous fault lines also need to start to be shud down, NOW.

Those remaining if REAL safety checks are done & passed can be re-started, any issues along they way & they get shut down or until they reach 30s of use.

Do the above & I think the people of Japan will buy into it.

And now we all need to start using less & we need to invest many of the other good ideas mention above, wind, ocean, hydro etc

If Japan DOES THIS I think it will give the country a HUGE morale boost which has been needed for far too long.

It shud be clear tot he entire world now that nuke plants are NOT good for us, there shudnt be any more plants made, the cost of accidents to life/limb & economy are simply too high a cost, the world simply CAN NOT afford nuke power, that SHUD be obvious now, we need to change.

This will also allow the world to tell big biz to STUFF IT! We need to start doing more whats good for people of the world NOT BUSINESS, business/work needs to be something that sustains a good healthy way of life for most of us, NOT simply for profit, clearly profit hunting is going to be the death of us all, its unsustainable & dangerous to boot!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I would think by 2030 Japanese technology would come up with a way to replace nuclear and fossil fuel energy. I would think that and I would be wrong.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Before zero nuclear energy can be reached, there will be a mountain of social, economic, political, techno problems to overcome.

Nuclear energy can't solve the problem of generating the world's power demand. It would have to build one new atomic plant, everyday for the next 35 years. An increase from the current 440 reactors to 11,000. Just think of the amount of nuclear waste what would also generate.

Nuclear energy can't solve the climate crisis, and the time on that one is running out everyday.

Japan can generate and produce new technologies for power generation which in turn it can export.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Could have started this year not 18 years from now.

Actually, no it couldn't because it takes 15 years to cool the reactors to a point where they can be dismantled, hence the 18 year timetable. However, there is still the issue of how and where to store all the nuclear waste from these plants, of which there will be several 1,000 tons. Japan is faced with this issue at present and decommissioning all the plants will only add to the problem. People complain about greenhouse emissions from fossil fuels, but the nuclear waste from power stations is far worse and stays radioactive for a thousand years or more. It is still very difficult to believe that, the current generation were so naive and selfish as to use nuclear power knowing full well there is no safe way to store nuclear waste and just leave it to become a problem for future generations. We protested nuclear power on this platform in the 80's in university, but the selfish fools are still not listening.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The nuclear spent fuel could be removed from the reactors and after cooling, 5-10 years, placed in dry casks and stored at the plant in an earthquake and tsunami proof building. The reactors should just be left in place. The generators could still be used by another fuel. There's no need to dismantle the entire atomic plant which would take many decades and ¥billions.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

2030 equals never. The politicians are stalling. Japan is almost offline now. This is where we must begin. Consider nuclear power generation dead right now and start the belated task of perfecting alternative energy sources.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Zichi - Retro fitting the generators to use other fuels would cost as much as building new ones. And, how is storing the the spent fuel at the plant a solution? It is still left for future generations to discard. Furthermore, we all are completely aware of what the Japanese consider earthquake and tsunami safe. That is what got them into this mess in the first place.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

for a country that doesn't have governments last more than a year on average, it's completely meaningless.

Keep protesting Japan! Maybe you'll get actual people who will actually represent you!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

“A total exit from nuclear is positive for the economy, on balance,” said Andrew Dewit, a professor at Rikkyo University who studies energy policy.

So this article can't find anything better than to use a useless statement from a guy with no economics experience? All the government reports and industry analysis put the expected real GDP growth in the very negative region, some as far as -8% growth from Japan's 5-8% growth in pre-slowdown years. Not to mention that you'll have hundreds of trillions in infrastructure costs for alternatives and forced consumption reduction by businesses.

It's also funny how no other news agencies state government aims to do so, all correctly report it is just a few cabinet people who are trying to cling onto their jobs. Considering that the opposition wants to dethrone them, the proposal will be shot down if it ever even makes it to vote.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Disillusioned

And, how is storing the the spent fuel at the plant a solution? It is still left for future generations to discard. Furthermore, we all are completely aware of what the Japanese consider earthquake and tsunami safe. That is what got them into this mess in the first place.

I didn't say it was a long term solution but a better one than suggested by the gov't which is too bury it in the ground. Whatever is decided it will be many future generations dealing with, and paying for, the storage of nuclear waste.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Oh great, so japan will be held hostage by all these countries it will have to import alternative fuels from. What a joke. Truly moronic. Thank god none of us NJ will be here then.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

You all missed it. By 2030 just over 25% of today's population in Japan will be gone (dead of old age) and I'm sure with the current self sabotage that Japan Inc. is dealing its self there will not be a need to have the power generating capacity they have now. So this promise is really easy to keep with the current pace.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Gov't aims to abandon nuclear power by 2030s

Don't be deceived and let down your guard! With governments changing every six months, it is the people such as those demonstrating outside noda's residence, NOT the politicians that will force quit of nuclear energy. At this rate, you will be surprised that the people can effect this even before 2030 if they so wish, even if governments change!!!!

3 ( +2 / -0 )

Gotta agree with Knowbetter. The fact is in the next 20-30 years there will be a steep decline in power demand as there will be an inevitably shrinking Japan. In the future, I am sure people will only shake their heads at decisions made by the LDP in the "good old days." 50 plus reactors in Japan - absolutely ridiculous!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

2015

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A brave decision and a daunting but doable task. On a national level, that will entail the following:

A substantial reduction in power demand- this will mean introducing passive building design standards for all sectors, standards that will need to reflect hot summers and climate variation from north to south. Further adjustment to the transport mix (fewer trucks/gasoline cars, more rail), and widespread adaption of passive cooling techniques- to name a few. Optimisation of renewable energy sources: there is massive scope for expanding photovoltaic electricity generation from all those overheating Tokyo roofs. More CHP.

It's basically a matter of reducing demand then using renewables to fulfil as much of remaining demand as possible. It might be worth hanging on to some of the safest and best nuclear reactors- it is "free" energy providing you don't kill everybody in the process. Don't forget uranium is not that plentiful and is expected to run out in 70 years at current extraction rates.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The first mistake is to politicize energy, which is a purely scientific, human survival, eco-sytem based and sustainability thing. You cannot talk authoritatively about how safe nuke energy reactors are if you are not a seisimologist, hydrologist, nuclear physicist, etc. Any politician who authoritatively talks about things related to the science of nuclear reactors in quest for votes should be arrested as s/he will be gambling with the very existence of human race. The other day, some politician visited fukushima for 15 minutes and then afterwards told reporters that he was convinced the plant is in a cold shut down. Up to now very few people know that the fukushima problem is far from over and that threat of fire outbreak in reactor 3 or 4 is eminent and that dangerous radiation is still being spewed into the atmosphere and surrounding delicate ecosystems...!!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

2030? What about right NOW?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

According to the Yomiuri Shinbun, the trade minister Yukio Edano has given his permission to restart the construction of 2 new reactors in Shimane, Amori.

He also stated, "There is no immediate effect on health".

He will allow the resumption of construction and operation of Ooma Nucleaer Power Plant by Electric Power Development Co.,Ltd. (in Ooma-cho, Aomori Prefecture) and Reactor 3 of Shimane Nucleaer Power Plant by Chugoku Electric Power Company (in Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture).

This would make a joke of the pledge of the DJP gov't to end nuclear energy by 2030. Under the 40 year life cycle those reactors would run beyond 2050.

The DJP gov't is playing a game by stating the zero option by 2030 to increase it's share of the votes at the next election but without any true intention of fulfilling it's promise.

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/atmoney/news/20120915-OYT1T00402.htm

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The statement by the new head of the new atomic safety agency, Shunichi Tanaka, "his agency would strive to make nuclear safety standards in Japan the highest in the world", casts doubts on the gov't's true intentions to end nuclear energy by 2030.

I don't think we'll really know the future of nuclear energy until the results of the next general election are known.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

2030? What about right NOW?

I hope you have the money and resources to supply the country with it's energy needs in the meantime.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japan has ultimately taken a good decision to close down nuclear plants in tune with its philosophy of lord Buddha who preached non-violence as a basic human trait to achieve Nirvana.That is service to fellowmen is service to GOD and Love of Fellowmwn is love of GOD even as per christian ethos and morde than that it is what Gandhi stood for in his life of simple living and high thinking to make the earth,a HeAVEN FOR ALL FORMS OF LIFE.Let japanese people who are intelligent not be bossed over by the New cRich from Western countries who want money at any cost without realising that man does not livde by bread alone to make life worth living.while leading A GOOD AND HAPPY LIFE BY YOURSELFF,YOU MUST ALLOW POTHERS ALSO TO LIVE so that peacxe and prosperity will last for ever. profT.Shivaji Rao, Director,centre for environmental studies, Gitam University,visakhapatnam,India

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

While it's hardly surprising to see lots of starry-eyed idealists talking about switching Japan to tidal, solar & wind power in the next 18 years, and those who simply oppose nuclear power in principle, in defiance of reasoned argument, what surprises me is the lack of its defenders here. Perhaps though, like me, they know that it's hardly an argument worth making - from a practical standpoint, it's completely preposterous to suggest that Japan could decommission and replace all of its nuclear power stations in such a short time, plus politically inconceivable as well. Anyone living in the real world knows it won't happen.

However, rather than "will it happen?", "SHOULD it happen?" is the question we had better ask ourselves.

From my viewpoint, absolutely not. The Japanese government hasn't begun to justify why it thinks throwing away decades of massive investment in clean, and demonstrably safe, energy production capacity is a good idea especially when the alternatives are dirtier and more harmful to human health or insufficiently developed to replace more than a fraction of nuclear electricity in the medium to long term.

On the matter of safety, the Japanese plants are massively over-engineered. Ask yourself - who died as a result of radiation and subsequent successful cooling efforts at Fukushima Daiichi? answer: no-one, nor is anyone likely to. The crisis was the consequence of a once-in-a-millennium act of nature, which even then might have been easily avoided had the back-up generators for the plant been located elsewhere on the site (lesson learned, we hope). Overall, it was a triumph of US design and Japanese engineering - the reactors passed the sternest of physical tests with flying colours. Nothing about Fukushima Daiichi points to any inherent fundamental lack of safety in the way that power stations are run in Japan - however much conspiracy theorists point to TEPCO's clumsy handling of information, this isn't Ukraine in the 1980s.

I'm also not sure whether all of the opponents of nuclear power are really sincere. Very few people who say that they are seriously worried about nuclear safety in Japan have actually voted with their feet and left, Japanese or gaijin. The irony of people flying off after the earthquake for a holiday in Hong Kong because they were worried about airborne radiation levels or to California for fear of earthquakes weren't lost on everyone, I can assure you. Even the act of flying itself - the risk of falling out of the sky - is far higher than any risk of death or injury from a nuclear power-related accident, but people are totally irrational about risk when it comes to nuclear power, no matter, it seems, how well-educated they are. Every year, thousands of miners die Worldwide in coal mining accidents, but we sadly seem to have accepted that this as the price we have to pay for dirty coal-generated electricity (especially because most of the dead miners are poor Chinese or Indonesians, so who cares?)

The alternatives are simply not going to be in place, whatever solutions cynical politicians come up with. True, Germany has said that it will replace nuclear power. What with though? For a large part, imported nuclear-generated electricity from France! Genius.

I completely agree with a move to more renewables and cleaner energy, as well as energy conservation (I'm optimistic in that respect, as technological advances will generally reduce electricity consumption over time). It is a huge irony that the people who argue most vociferously for the abolition of nuclear power either propose alternatives on a scale that is unrealistic for an industrialised nation of 120 million people, or want to replace nuclear with far, far less green alternatives - more coal, oil and gas-fired electricity generation. Like it or hate it, nuclear power has to be part of a long-term transition to alternative energy sources and away (not towards) conventional power generation which poisons the atmosphere and depletes finite resources.

FnC

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

frontandcenter

Nothing about Fukushima Daiichi points to any inherent fundamental lack of safety in the way that power stations are run in Japan

Guess you didn't read the reports bby Dr Kenichi Ohmae and the Diet Commission both highlight very serious design defects at the Fukushima plant, many of which are also at other plants. The power companies, like KEPCO have stated it will take 5 years to update the safety standards which are less than the international ones. Some of the reactors failed the stress test while 2 plants are being investigated for active fault lines. Others like Hamaoka have been built in the most dangerous places and will probably not be able to withstand the next Nankin Trough earthquake and tsunami.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

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