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Japan eyes 15% of electricity needs from nuclear power

30 Comments
By Linda Sieg

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© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012.

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15% means half of the existing 52 reactors would be restarted. They should write-off and deccommission the 26 oldest reactors right now, then throw a ton of money into the remaining 26 to make sure another Fukushima disaster can't happen before they re-start any of them.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

And all the spent fuel rods? I guess they sit in their cozy little pools for eternity...a nice little time bomb. It is gonna take another big NPP accident before the Govt takes any action to abolish them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well its just as I've stated would happen. I called it all. :)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"...but will likely stop short of pledging the long-term exit strategy that many voters favor, experts said."

Of course they will! And in the meantime, while all these guys are busy patting each other on the back I'm pretty sure they're still planning on building the 12 or so new reactors they've got in the works.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That would be an improvement on the situation prior to 3/11. I can accept it'll take time to end the use of nuclear energy but the government should also make a committment to end it by 2025-2030.

The maximum number of reactors running at any one time was 34 which generated 30% of total power. Out of previous 54 reactors at least 12 won't ever operate again. Fukushima (10), Tokai (1), Tsuruga (1).

To generate 15% would take about 17 reactors but that does not account for down time. There are 9 mainland power companies, so excluding TEPCO, the other 8 companies should be allowed to run 3 reactors each. Provided the safety levels have been increased.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Even just one nuclear power plant is too dangerous, as proven by present and past disasters. Good citizens of Japan, keep 'em shut down. And plan for decommissioning.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Population has said No. This is just a cop out to the nuclear industry by which the politicians are sold out to. Otherwise they themselves would be pushing for nuclear free Japan, but only a few have. Only the people of Japan can decide this, and they are clearly demanding no more.

It's nice to see some backbone in Japan over this issue. I have no doubt that Japan can rise up to the challenge technically and socially for a nuclear free nation, as the politicians waste their time bargaining for their corporations

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nuclear is still far safer than anything else.... Children beg and beg for more sweets doesnt mean I should keep giving them out, their teeth will rot. As it is with democracy, we have scientific experts for a reason.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Nuclear is still far safer than anything else.... Children beg and beg for more sweets doesnt mean I should keep giving them out, their teeth will rot. As it is with democracy, we have scientific experts for a reason.

So you're moving to live just outside the exclusion zone in Fukushima are you? Or to Chernobyl? Or Three Mile Island? Please name me any instance where the failure of any other form of power generation has made a large land area uninhabitable for generations? Nuclear fission is absolutely not safer than anything else. No other method of power generation poses such immediate risks to the environment.

I doubt that scientific experts are to blame for Fukushima. As far as I can tell, the blame lies with whoever thought that it was a good idea to have the backup generators in a location where they could be flooded by a tsunami. If that design fault had been prevented, the reactors most likely would still be operating normally today. Given that history, what all Nuclear plant operators need to prove is that their backup systems for reactor cooling absolutely cannot suffer the same fate as the Daiichi plant. It would be crazy to resume operations of any reactors until that reassurance is provided.

I hope that the Japanese government follows the same sensible and logical path that others have outlined here - take this opportunity to decommission the oldest reactors and only operate the newest ones. Phase them all out as soon as possible. What has the increase in generation through renewables been since the Daiichi accident? Is anyone doing something about it? Is anyone reporting on it?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thomas: "Children beg and beg for more sweets doesnt mean I should keep giving them out, their teeth will rot."

In this case I'd say the 'children' are the government and power companies, and the 'sweets' money-motivated permission to restart the reactors.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If they don't turn the reactors back on they are shooting themselves in the foot. Also for those that are talking about how unsafe nuclear power is:

Three Mile Island was mostly due to human error, a small manageable incident got out of control due to the technicians not doing what they were supposed to due. Chernobyl was also caused by human error. Fukushima was caused due to extraordinary circumstances. Seriously how can you plan for one of the biggest earthquakes in recorded history followed up by a devastating Tsunami. They were some short comings in safety I am sure but seriously to say that plant was not up to snuff after those kinds of things happened is a little crazy.

Was are the immediate alternatives? Coal Oil? So adding more pollution to the whole world is a better idea?

I agree that eventually renewable energy is the way to go, but right here right now there are millions of people facing a hot summer with power outages that can be prevented through use of a tried and honestly relatively safe form of power production. So lets use some common sense here.

One last thing, the US Navy has been using Nuclear power in their ships for decades without any major problems barring when the technology first was being tested.

Just some things to think about.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

A Reuters survey, however, showed that nearly three-quarters of Japanese companies support abandoning nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster

if companies that are the biggest consumers and the people generally dont support nuke electricity, why is government giving mixed messages about future energy options? Whose interests does government want to serve? The simple formula is that big companies should operate at night or produce their additional electricity during day. Dont be deceived by the 15%....who will be monitoring whether it is 15% or original 30%? soon the 15% will be increased giving reasons such as " nobody expected Japan to grow at this rate" . I think the trick being tried now is to dangle some figure to reassure the sceptics that they are considering reducing reliance to nuke electricity. The fact is that government is bent on its nuke electricity pathway for posterity against people's wishes!!!!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Pledging to lower reliance on nuclear power is a start, if nothing else. Assuming the world is ideal and well and good and no other megaquakes threaten another Fukushima repeat, then continuing to rely on nuclear energy is fine. However, things aren't always as sparkly and happy as that. In the long term, the wiser course of action is to invest in other kinds of power generation.

It is understandable that utilities will be against a firm stance that pledges to abandon nuclear energy in the future. It is their biggest money making machine, afterall. However, the more time goes by, the higher the possibility of another Fukushima repeat. This is not to say another quake won't happen again soon, but rather, the longer Japan waits to leave nuclear energy behind, the longer the danger of another incident will linger. Seeking non-nuclear power generation in the long-term shouldn't be a pledge, it should be a given, for the sake of the future generations.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Kyle, you were right, but so was everybody else too. This was predictable. In Japan, petty self-interest groups are stronger political force than voters. This is why being in a government of Japan is not a real job.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Rick, you are flat out wrong there. 40% of electrical use in Japan is residential, and most of it at night when nuclear and fossil fuels are the only viable option. Asking companies to run at night is like demanding that all energy should be consumed at once, which is counter productive.

Even if Japan restores half of the capacity (which is actually about 20 plants, not 28 as some people think, since only about 80% of reactors were online before Fukushima), they will barely be able to meet summer demand this summer (after 15% cuts), let alone any long term demand.

Japanese officials need to suck it up and do what is necessary, not what is "popular" (because most people could care less, especially those not indoctrinated by the media). The 50% nuclear ideal they had would cut coal use by 50-75%, resulting in much cleaner air throughout the country, as well as much cheaper electricity bills for companies and residents (which increases profits, which increases tax revenues, and also keeps jobs in Japan and may even create new ones)

As for nuclear being dangerous... hell, just ban everything including cars, aircrafts, and trains, those all are more dangerous than a nuclear plant after all (just car accidents alone in Japan caused almost 5000 deaths, which is more than every single nuclear accident since 1900 combined, even if you include cancer deaths not entirely correlated to radiation)

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

It's funny how the pro-nuclear folks have no problem with "fearmongering" when it comes to supposed blackouts and shortages.

0 ( +2 / -1 )

This would still be a very major reversal of nuclear energy used in this country, and not what the power companies, Big Nuke and International Nuke wanted to hear. Japan was heading toward generating 50% of power from nuclear energy and have about 14 new NPP's in the pipeline at various stages including 2 or 3 were the construction has already started.

They should continue to build those but with much higher safety standards and this would allow the decommissioning of older plants. The reactors could use thorium instead of nuclear fuel.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2011/09/11/is-thorium-the-biggest-energy-breakthrough-since-fire-possibly/

Work needs to start within the next 12 months to start building some major geothermal plants. Geothermal energy could provide 80GW of power, which is twice the total generated by nuclear energy.

Both solar and wind energies have a part in the countries energy policy. Off shore wind plants could be used to produce commpressed air stored in bags on the seabed, and released during peak period demand to generate power. This method could also be used with overnight power.

More power needs to be generated on a local level by companies and business which could produce 15% to 30% of its power needs by using energy servers like the Bloom Energy Servers, which many Fortune 500 companies in America have started to install, including Google, Apple, Bank of America, to name a few.

http://www.bloomenergy.com/fuel-cell/energy-server/

All governments have failed to tackle the very major problem of storing nuclear waste. France has offered to take all the spent fuel from Fukushima, but there are hundreds if not thousands of tons of highly irradiated waste at the other NPP's.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Please name me any instance where the failure of any other form of power generation has made a large land area uninhabitable for generations?

Hydro power damming makes large land areas uninhabitable by design. And then when they fail you get Banqiao Dam which killed 170,000 people and wiped several cities off the map.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@greenlight

Hydro power damming makes large land areas uninhabitable by design. And then when they fail you get Banqiao Dam which killed 170,000 people and wiped several cities off the map.

In Japan, all the major hydro dams, like the Korobe Dam in Nagano have been built deep into the mountains. No one lived there prior to the construction and created a natural beauty spot which brings hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and is of great economic importance to the local city of Omachi.

In some areas, dams prevent flooding of communities and farm land.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Matthew: you are right, what is lacking is common sense. The problem is that there is a fake common sense that has been shaped by Big Nukes by building the myth: safe, cheap and clean.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Matthew: "3. Fukushima was caused due to extraordinary circumstances. Seriously how can you plan for one of the biggest earthquakes in recorded history followed up by a devastating Tsunami."

Fukushima was caused by a company that has repeatedly ignored warnings and covered up massive scandals -- including trying to hide the fact that at least one of their plants was built on a major fault line despite the fact that they knew this was illegal (the Niigata plant). The backup generators were stored UNDER GROUND at Fukushima, so where did they think the water was going to go in the event of a tsunami? (and TEPCO was warned quite a few times that one the size of March 11th had hit before and could again). There were a number of other short-cuts TEPCO took with Fukushima as well that ensured the disaster that has yet to be contained (despite the government saying it has achieved 'cold shutdown' or whatever).

Yes, the nuclear disasters throughout history have been caused by human error indeed; the error of building the things in the first place.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

How much of this 15% will be provided by the fast breeder reactor Monju?

(After a series of accidents it is to go critical this summer, apparently.)

For info on MOX & Monju see link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monju_Nuclear_Power_Plant

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hydro power damming makes large land areas uninhabitable by design. And then when they fail you get Banqiao Dam which killed 170,000 people and wiped several cities off the map

Was the land flooded by the dam uninhabitable for generations afterwards? The failure of a dam causing flooding is tragic but it's hardly comparable to the insidious long term effects of contamination by radioactive waste. I don't think anyone is suggesting damming more rivers in Japan, although I'd argue that there's a lot of opportunities for small scale hydro not requiring storage dams. Small holding dams could be used for peak load shaving which would reduce theenergy required from other sources.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As for nuclear being dangerous... hell, just ban everything including cars, aircrafts, and trains, those all are more dangerous than a nuclear plant after all (just car accidents alone in Japan caused almost 5000 deaths, which is more than every single nuclear accident since 1900 combined, even if you include cancer deaths not entirely correlated to radiation)

So again - are you moving to live in Tohoku to prove your point? I imagine that there's not much traffic in certain areas there. Do you want to raise your kids outside the Daiichi plant?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Monju Fast Breeder reactor "experiment" has been abandoned due to accidents and failures. Cost, ¥15 trillion. How much renewable and green energy could you buy with that? Now more costs for decommissioning.

BTW, Monju generated a single hour of power, costing ¥15 trillion.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Zichi, my bad. Misread yesterday's news. Monju has been repaired to the state it was before they dropped that rod extractor crane into the reactor vessel. Govt inspectors will check everything in the middle of June. Monju remains the centerpiece of the govt's nuclear strategy, although opinions are divided on whether to restart or not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@vinnyfav

Seeking non-nuclear power generation in the long-term shouldn't be a pledge, it should be a given, for the sake of the future generations.

You are right. and where there is a will, there is a way. Look at Germany with even no earthquake concerns, they shut down 8 very good nuclear reactors after fukushima incident and the rest will go off-line soon. And what has been the result. Innovation has taken over, with Germany producing the first ever solar plant to produce electricity equivalent to 20 nuclear plants!!! read: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/05/26/us-climate-germany-solar-idUKBRE84P0FI20120526 Japan even has better potential if combined with energy from the sea. The problem is that there is no will to go for the renewables yet whether japan likes it or not, renewables are the future, not nukes and Germany is already positioning itself as the clean energy innovator of choice

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Germany's new solar gadget produces electricity equivalent to 20 nuclear plants!!!!! Where is Japan in the innovation space for renewables, which is tomorrow's energy business of choice? http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/05/26/us-climate-germany-solar-idUKBRE84P0FI20120526 This was done after fukushima when Germany shut down many of its nuclear rectors. Neccesity is the mother of invention and where there is a will, there is a way.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

there are so many uncertain factors to look at by 2050 - said a former industry ministry official

i agree, earthquakes, tsunamis, and all around or under your nukes buddy, very glad we are on the "SAME" side, now turn of ya nukes asap and we can say good by to your monopoly on power (electrical and political)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

NO! The Occupy Majority has spoken. NO nukes. Just sweat it out, and it will be winter before you know it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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