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Japan faces higher fuel bill as nuclear shutdown enters 3rd year

28 Comments
By Aaron Sheldrick and Osamu Tsukimori

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28 Comments
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Amazing how the higher fuel bills wouldn't have been a problem if we didn't have the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The higher fuel bills still would have occurred. Maybe not as high, but still there would have been raises in prices as costs have increased.

As long as Japan has no natural resources or alternative energy sources online, higher energy bills will be the norm as long as the reactors stay down.

8 ( +9 / -0 )

Don't let this sort of headline scare anyone. We are stuck with the npp cleanup bill for generations. That said, I would rather pay higher prices and have truely safe & clean power. And, I will also count it as cheap because no matter the cost, it is basically free compared to decades of cleanup (that will never be 100% complete, really) from another nuclear disaster. Peace of mind would be priceless.

Someone, please, kick some sense into that rich old guy, Abe, and his cohorts. Or get someone who has their head on straight in office.......this is my dream.

4 ( +10 / -5 )

Should the yen fall to 100 to the dollar and stay there for the next year, Japan’s purchases of oil, gas and coal from overseas would rise 25% to just over 30 trillion yen, in the unlikely scenario that import volumes hold steady.

The down-side of Abenomics. For every person or company that the lower yen will help in terms of improving exports, it hurts one for this very reason. And if wages do not rise, increased fuel bills will hurt domestic consumption.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

More wealth is leaving Japan than entering and the yen will keep dropping in value. Simple economics and the truly safe and clean power is not available yet. A pipe dream so Japan needs to figure out which ones are safe and let them restart. If new regulations say they can never restart than pay the companies to close them.

-2 ( +2 / -6 )

@Ranger_Miffy

Don't let this sort of headline scare anyone. We are stuck with the npp cleanup bill for generations.

"Unlike those wonderful clean burning fossil fuels, which have no foreseeable economic consequences at all."

That said, I would rather pay higher prices and have truely safe & clean power.

"However, to make that judgement, I would rather not actually compare safety and environmental impact records, and simply assume my personal choice is safest and cleanest."

And, I will also count it as cheap because no matter the cost, it is basically free compared to decades of cleanup (that will never be 100% complete, really) from another nuclear disaster.

"Free to me, of course, ha ha...everyone knows that fossil fuels can provide power to industrialized nations without causing foreseeable pollution, or affecting the environment in any significant way. There is no way that we will have to spend decades to repair the damage it cause."

Peace of mind would be priceless.

Sticking your head in the sand only paints a target on your ass.

-3 ( +7 / -11 )

@Ranger_Miffy: I would rather pay higher prices and have truely safe & clean power. And, I will also count it as cheap because no matter the cost, it is basically free compared to decades of cleanup (that will never be 100% complete, really) from another nuclear disaster. Peace of mind would be priceless.

If you stop to think about the energy from fossil fuels which is more expensive at present and, in the long term, has irreversible effect on the environment, I doubt you would say that it is cleaner. Many people seem to forget that Japan has so far paid enormous amount of money (from tax) to buy CC2 emissions rights from other countries. With the lack of infrastructure which can ensure any better for the economy, environment and respectively the future of this country development, I can't see the point of insisting on keeping all the reactors off. The old and potentially dangerous one could be decommissioned but there are new generations reactors which can be used for the good of everybody who lives here.

-4 ( +4 / -9 )

Stop perpetuating the MYTH. Nuclear is the MOST expensive energy ever concocted. Lost lands, clean up costs, subsides.

3 ( +9 / -5 )

Why not just go 100% solar?

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Perhaps YongYang but they are already built and when when the IAEA approves can be restarted.

-3 ( +3 / -7 )

YubaruMar. 17, 2013 - 08:57AM JST

The higher fuel bills still would have occurred. Maybe not as high, but still there would have been raises in prices as costs have increased.

Not anywhere near as much actually, Japan's increased spending is one of the reasons the prices increased in the first place, and the lowered output and much lowered profits created the 10 yen difference we are seeing now. The costs in 2010, even with higher per yen cost for fuels, were around half of what they will be this year.

YongYangMar. 17, 2013 - 11:46AM JST

Stop perpetuating the MYTH. Nuclear is the MOST expensive energy ever concocted. Lost lands, clean up costs, subsides.

The expense of energy per TWh after including externalities goes like this (from highest to lowest): Coal, Oil, Solar, Gas, Wind, Nuclear, Hydro. The subsidies myth is often stated, without realizing that every form of energy gets massive subsidies, with fossil fuels having received much more, and most "nuclear" subsidies are actually for cleanup and fusion research (loans are larger, but those are paid back). As for cleanup costs, that's only because all other fuel sources don't state their cleanup costs. If you were to force fossil fuels to pay for cleanup, it would be in the hundreds of trillions over the last half century.

dr8kangas@gmail.comMar. 17, 2013 - 01:01PM JST

Why not just go 100% solar?

Economically, engineering, and environmentally unsound. You would need cover at least 7% of the arable land in Japan just to replace the remaining reactors, spend 100 trillion yen on panels, and consume 100% of all rechargeable battery production. Just the batteries alone would be an environmental nightmare, and that's before panel manufacturing and inverters.

Imports of liquefied natural gas, the main substitute for nuclear fuel, cost 6 trillion yen in 2012

And this leaves out that gas only accounts for half of the energy, and it was also the only one that went down in price.

The big five are forecasting a 50% increase in coal use in the year to March 31, 2014

This also means that the big five are planning a 50% increase in PM2.5. PM2.5 is capable of increasing cancer by almost 10% per 10microgram/m^3 increase. If people are worried about their children's health, they will ask these companies to replace coal with the original power source that replaced coal in the 80s.

1 ( +7 / -7 )

Get those nuculear power plants going again for japans sake

3 ( +8 / -6 )

Sorry, darbysan. Keep those nuclear power plants from going again--for Japan's sake!

-2 ( +5 / -6 )

My detractors did not get that I advocate long-term, sustainable renewable power. Coal and fossil fuels are not sustainable, and neither is nuclear. Agreed?

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Japan go Wind-Solar. Learn from Germany, Austria. You don't need stupid fossils as much as they say.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Ranger_Miffy2Mar. 17, 2013 - 07:21PM JST

Coal and fossil fuels are not sustainable, and neither is nuclear. Agreed?

Bio-fuels are equivalent to fossil fuels. And breeding cycle nuclear is about as sustainable as you can get, several hundred years of fuel with the current stock. By the time you run out of that you'll likely have far better energy sources than anything people are currently even thinking about. In the last two hundred years alone human kind has gone from burning sticks, vegetable oil, and animal fat to burning coal, petroleum, gas, and splitting the atom. Just imagine what we'll have by the time we run out of nuclear fuels.

AristomanMar. 17, 2013 - 07:25PM JST

Japan go Wind-Solar. Learn from Germany, Austria. You don't need stupid fossils as much as they say.

Germany still uses more nuclear energy than wind and solar combined. While daytime need has decreased somewhat, it still draws huge amounts of energy from nuclear plants in France. Germany is also the leader in Europe for coal power, where every TWh of energy produced every year does as much damage to the environment and people's health as fukushima is rated to have over the next 70 years. In fact, the reason why Germany uses so much coal is because of wind and solar!

-1 ( +5 / -7 )

@Ranger_Miffy2

My detractors did not get that I advocate long-term, sustainable renewable power.

Sure, who doesn't? The question, however, is about the quantity of power needed.

Coal and fossil fuels are not sustainable, and neither is nuclear. Agreed?

In what sense is nuclear energy not sustainable?

-2 ( +4 / -7 )

@dr8kangas@gmail.com

Why not just go 100% solar?

Solar power is kind of notorious for being the renewable resource that will never make up the energy it takes to create it. For a home it might be useful, but only if the home is already highly energy efficient; it will not pay for itself or offset any net gains.

But overall, the main problem with it is that it is only good for very low levels of energy use, such as energy efficient homes. Solar panels simply do not produce the quantities of energy needed by industry, let alone providing a base load, or even a reliable flow. This is, unfortunately, the main issue with pretty much all renewable resources.

Think of it this way: The energy contained in a given source depends largely on how long the energy has had to concentrate. Fossil fuels have been around for millenia, and have been concentrated into very rich, very dense, sources of energy. Biomass may have only been around for a few months prior to being used, and things like wind and solar have barely touched down on Earth. It is a little like trying to collect water from a dripping tap; the longer the drip, the more water is available. If the drip just started, there just isn't a lot of water there to be had.

-1 ( +6 / -8 )

Easy choice: pay now for what you use (fossil fuel) or leave the bill to your children (nuclear fuel).

2 ( +6 / -3 )

Open MindedMar. 17, 2013 - 10:18PM JST

Easy choice: pay now for what you use (fossil fuel) or leave the bill to your children (nuclear fuel).

That would be false down to the core of why fossil fuels are bad. Fossil fuels will kill your children and their children through pollution and climate change.

And you can say the same about most:

Geothermal will cause earthquakes and other geologic instability (now) and poison the water with heavy metals (children)

Solar will cost you your job (now) and will pollute the environment and increase the chances of death due to economic hardships (children). Solar without nuclear or coal is worse, because then you have batteries to deal with, which either means lithium and all the toxins that come with that, or lead and all the poison that results in.

Gas is the only other one that might not have immediate issues, but it doesn't really change the end result of climate change, especially if there are methane leaks due to industrial accidents.

Wind isn't even possible in Japan at the levels needed to be profitable, so you would end up having massive costs now and your children would suffer the economic consequences.

Interestingly, during the 20 years nuclear was reasonably popular, advances in reprocessing and disposal made huge steps towards reasonable resolutions. With economic incentives for developing disposal techniques, most of the issues we have now might just become a thing of the past (in our children's lifetime). Most people forget that first commercial reactors are half the age of the first electric wind turbines!

-3 ( +3 / -7 )

Japan go Wind-Solar. Learn from Germany, Austria. You don't need stupid fossils as much as they say.

Germany has already increased it's CO2 emissions by 1.6% and will be building MORE coal power stations.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Incorrect Heda,

Energy prices in Europe are falling due to the cheap energy from renewable sources, and because of it they are closing down old fossil fuel plants.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-07/utilities-need-to-close-30-of-european-power-plants-ubs-says.html

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

From Bloomberg

Germany will this year start up more coal-fired power stations than at any time in the past 20 years as the country advances a plan to exit nuclear energy by 2022.

New coal plants with about 5,300 megawatts of capacity will start generating power this year, the Muenster-based IWR renewable energy institute said in an e-mailed statement today, citing data from the German regulator. About 1,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity are expected to come offline, it said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who shut Germany’s oldest atomic reactors two years ago in response to the Fukushima disaster in Japan, is seeking to replace the remaining nuclear plants with renewable generators and efficient fossil-fired stations. Greenhouse gas emissions in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, rose 1.6 percent last year as more coal was burned to generate power, the Environment Ministry said two days ago.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

That quote was certainly not from above article. But from that very article that you are quoting Heda, you conveniently left out the paragraph that reads.

“The growth in renewables and the decline in power consumption have already fully bridged the gap opened by the shutdowns of the eight nuclear reactors in 2011,” Norbert Allnoch, head of the IWR, said in today’s statement.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

So just to confirm,

Germany has increased it's CO2 by 1.6% and Germany has increased it's number of coal power stations.

And you still think I'm incorrect.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I am saying that the 1.6% increase is temporary, renewable energy sources has already fully bridged shutdown of 8 NPP's and as renewables continues to grow it is a given that it can cover that 1.6% increase as well.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

But higher prices for everything is a good thing, surely? Thats what abe and his millions of japanese followers believe. Higher I say!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

SquidBertMar. 18, 2013 - 10:50AM JST

I am saying that the 1.6% increase is temporary, renewable energy sources has already fully bridged shutdown of 8 NPP's and as renewables continues to grow it is a given that it can cover that 1.6% increase as well

That would mean you have completely ignored their drastically increased energy imports, both from nuclear powered France and fossil fuel sources from others. They refuse to include the CO2 costs from imported energy correctly because they don't buy the CO2. Germany's "huge" renewable energy (which is actually LESS than Japan's renewable energy, since Japan uses hydro whereas Germany doesn't) still hasn't offset just 8 reactors, two of which will likely be brought back online because the courts found the closures to be illegal, and the remaining 9 reactors still produce more power. The only thing that replaced nuclear so far is coal, which Germany mines itself with massive strip mining operations that are subsidized at a level that would make anti-nuclear activists question themselves http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5f1fa75e-047c-11e0-a99c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2Nr7bRQ2T.

Not to mention the 1.6% increase in CO2 isn't the only thing "renewables" have brought, the biggest issue for any manufacturing country, especially one like Japan that requires 99.99999999% uptime (for electronics manufacturing), is grid instability. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/instability-in-power-grid-comes-at-high-cost-for-german-industry-a-850419.html . In 2010, one Toshiba plant in Japan lost power for just 70 milliseconds (less than it takes for you to blink) and caused a 20% decline in production for an entire quarter. The Japanese economy just can't take that.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

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