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Companies not as keen as Abe gov't on nuclear power: poll

31 Comments
By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Yuka Obayashi

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31 Comments
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I'd like to see Japan build some all-new Westinghouse AP1000 reactors. Very modern and safe designs, and almost certainly a better investment that the stupid Olympics.

800MW reactors built in the 1970's......time to upgrade to 1.1GW reactors designed in the 2000's!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

The form deregulation is taking in Japan, where there seems to be little community based participation, will not bring lower costs, as control of the energy market will mainly shift from a few big players to other large firms seeking huge profits.

This article also does not highlight the key point, which is that firms have now seen the true cost of nuclear energy once all the previously excluded externatlities have been factored in and view it as just too expensive.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japanese companies are not building factories in Japan but in foreign countries where they can produce things cheaper and sell their products without transportation costs. Thus Japanese businesses are going abroad to do businesses because they cannot expect economic growth in Japan. The future of Japan will be like Spain and Portugal where people and capital spread to the world and their mother lands became empty.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If the people of Japan feel that strongly about abolishment of nuclear energy why keep reelecting Abe??

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The headline is a bit misleading, as the comments from industry do not reflect their wishes, rather their views of the likelihood of achieving Abe's target. Case in point:

“Some nuclear power stations may resume operations, but it will be difficult to expect as many restarts as the government and utilities want,” a corporate manager at a machinery company wrote.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The outcome will be decided by the reality of the situation which is only around about 20 reactors are worth spending the money to update them to conform with the new regulations set by the NRA which when restarted will generate about 15% of total and not the 27% prior to the nuclear disaster and not the 20%-22% expected by PM Abe who also wants to increase the base load power level to 60% provided by nuclear 15%, hydro 10% and coal 75%. That would increase the use of coal by more than 30% from its present level.

The country could if it wanted to greatly increase its power obtained from renewables, especially solar and geothermal and according to the Ministry of the Environment, generate more than 30% of total power from renewables. But it appears to be a road that PM Abe does not want to travel down. Many of the life cycles of the reactors will have ended or reach the end of their life cycles by 2030 and it's difficult to see any new ones being constructed which currently would cost about $10 billion each.

There would be difficulties finding communities willing to have new NPP's better to spend the money making a smart grid system which can deal with renewable energy.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Why is Japan so reluctant to invest in renewable energy? Germany, the United States and China are doing so.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I hope this ends up that the companies want to find a way to bail on nuclear and go for renewables. Geothermal makes a perfect base load replacement per building or neighbourhood. Distribution is land not a single plant for an earthquake prone country is the way to go. Who cares about politicians; they'll take their brown bags and new talking point orders.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That word "renewables".... The IPCC (climate change) working group III summary for policy makers, proposes a quadrupling of nuclear energy.... all of which must be music to the ears of the pro-nuclear lobby..

Page 15, At the global level scenarios reaching 450 ppm are also characterized by more rapid improvements in energy efficiency, a tripling to nearly a quadrupling of the share of zero- and low-carbon supply from renewables, nuclear energy and fossil energy with carbon capture and storage (CCS) or bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) by the year 2050

Justifying the working group follows on ....

Nuclear energy is a mature low-GHG emission source of base load power, but its share of global electricity generation has been declining (since 1993). Nuclear energy could make an increasing contribution to low-carbon energy supply, but a variety of barriers and risks exist

All carefully worded to suggest barriers are political, not technical .....

new fuel cycles and reactor technologies addressing some of these issues are being investigated and progress in research and development has been made concerning safety and waste disposal

The assumption the IPCC are making is public opinion can be influenced by elected governments who politically stress the burden of leadership mandates the authority and responsibly to do what is necessary. Abe san and the D of E seem to be hell bent on the restarts probably as a means to cushion future increases in energy bills. J public will take some convincing. Plus provision for a comprehensive smart grid system needs to be integrated as a key process of deregulation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Ally Rustom - Why is Japan so reluctant to invest in renewable energy?

The answer to this question is quite simple. It's because of the billions of dollars invested in their aging nuclear plants and they are not prepared to write it off. This is why they are fighting so hard to get them back online. It's not because of increased fuel import costs at all! The fact that, one nuclear disaster will end up costing ten times more than it cost to build every plant in Japan is irrelevant to them. Even a three year old kid knows that, if you play with fire you will get burned. Producing electricity via nuclear plants is not cheap! However, because the Japanese plants cut maintenance costs and upgrades they can keep the price low. It's Russian roulette!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If the people of Japan feel that strongly about abolishment of nuclear energy why keep reelecting Abe??

Great point. Probably comes down to voting the lesser of many inept political parties. LoL, the LDP has always maintained their grip. And that's not saying much.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A recent (if short) video piece by the BBC showed fairly large solar farms present in Japan. The owner stated that although many smaller companies had invested and/or produced solar, geo-thermal, wave and wind powered solutions (up and running in Japan), Tepco and cronies didn't want to infest, as they were unprepared for such a high amount of these (competing?) systems popping up.

Wonder why...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If the people of Japan feel that strongly about abolishment of nuclear energy why keep reelecting Abe??

No realistic alternatives. Abe may suck, but he doesn't suck as bad as the pitiful opponents he was against.

I don't like Abe, but even I would have voted for him.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hmm. Japan is placed on top of a huge amount of fault lines, why not push for geothermal energy production? The fact the japan has so many volcanoes meaning the conduits is very close to the surface. An estimate of japan is 5 -10% of the close to surface conduits is in Japan, and if that is true that means Japan would easily be able to produce 10 - 20% of the world current energy use... did you say money?

Maybe place it on top of a volcano and suck it dry, (simplified) normally an eruption is because of the high heat, that makes a huge expansion of the magma, creating an enormous pressure underground, until it goes off. Placing a huge geothermal power plant that can keep the underlaying magma conduits cold, would probably help it to not erupt, and give huge amount of energy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This cut to the very heart of solar/wind cost integration.and the real debate about what the real cost of solar and wind power actually is.

I would like to see nuclear energy phased out, however defining risk cost-benefit analysis that qualifies total costs to generate power when renewable energy isn’t available,if the sun’s not shining or the wind is not blowing has to be taken into the equation.

Japan cannot produce nuclear energy either politically or safely, the tax payer will have to sustain the cost of the imported alternative. it is a mathematical fact that energy bills will rise, are commentators on this site prepared to subsidize the have nots? This is the crunch question, because deregulation will not produce a miracle alone the lines of five loaves and two fishes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Since nuclear energy was only able to provide 27% of total power prior to the nuclear disaster and according to the NRA in the future that will be reduced to 15%-20% then alternatives need to be developed. The current cost of building a reactor is estimated to be $10 billion each but there are some other serious issues concerning the construction of any new NPP's.

There are only two companies in the world capable of forgeing the reactors. One is based in Hokkaido the other I think, is in America. The number of companies licensed to supply all the parts have fallen since the nuclear disaster. The numbers of capable skilled workers are also dropping since less students are enrolling at universities for nuclear energy courses.

An important step forward would be to create at least two smart grid systems instead of the many currently used. The new electrical supply companies are charging less for their monthly accounts and industrial customers are starting to move over to them.

It will become impossible to replace the reactors reaching the end of their life cycles by 2030, so alternatives are very much a must.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

itsonlyrocknroll -> The fact is a big part of the world wants geothermal power plants, but nobody wants to develop heavy duty geothermal power plants because, coal, diesel, nuclear, is easier. I you have Japan move into the development (Japan is even a great country for that), you would be able to sell knowhow and generate huge amounts of power cheap. The only thing needed is for the government to push for geothermal power, and the point you bring up no wind, no sun, you don't have that kind of problems with geothermal power (heat will decrease slowly), if it stops suddenly, something is terrible wrong (and i don't want to be on earth if that happens).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wind and solar can be used to produce hydrogen which in turn is used to generate power or in trucks and cars. They can also be used with hydro pump stations. Japan generates about 1,000TWH per year and according to the Ministry of Environment the output from renewables by 2030 could be more than 200TWh or about 20% of the total. Certainly agree about geothermal and watched a BBC World News program about that yesterday.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

zichi, Anders Blenstrup-Pedersen, I agree with you, Japan cannot produce nuclear energy either politically or safely, the structure to maintain any credible level of public confidence that a current or future government would have the capability to oversee any regulatory authority that could bear independent scrutiny is blatantly clear.

How far would you be prepared to pocket in the extent to energy bill increases to finance a next generation smart grid system?

Just taking into account a single aspect the meters....

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-2782512/Smart-meter-roll-costs-danger-spiralling-control-households-foot-bill-warns-Which.html

My humble opinion is that j public has to be fully aware of the costs and who will be footing the bill

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There are only two companies in the world capable of forgeing the reactors. One is based in Hokkaido the other I think, is in America.

Well China is building some 26 new reactors. Would you saying that they are sourcing their reactors from only those two?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@itsonlyrocknroll, the new super dark solar panels is very incredible, even in Denmark where I'm from people buy them, because they have payed them-selfs off after just 6 to 12 years, and thats without the electricity sales (they often produce way more than a normal house hold uses)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hi zichi, Anders Blenstrup-Pedersen, all contributors ....

I have been costing in a minor auditing capacity an smart energy storage system for future investment please have a read, your opinion and if a system would be feasible for Japan would be gratefully received.....

http://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/energy_storage.pdf

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How far would you be prepared to pocket in the extent to energy bill increases to finance a next generation smart grid system?

Building a smart grid system, at least one in East Japan and another in West japan is so badly needed. The electrical power distribution system is the worse I've never seen with the use of two cycles, 50Mz and 60Mhz and numerous grid systems which can't fully transmit power to each of them. Like the best place for wind power is Hokkaido but the biggest demand for power is in Tokyo. The power from the Hokkaido wind can't be transmitted to Tokyo.

The cost replacing the current fleet of nuclear reactors, if enough local communities could be found to have will be in excess of ¥50 trillion and a very large time scale. How long will it take to build 15 new NPP's with 4 reactors each?

Distribution of electrical power is a big problem in this country and so some form of smart grid is much needed regardless of how the power is generated and a smart grid can make better use of renewable energy. The cost of electricity in Japan is not the highest in the world but also residential consumers are subsidising the business users.

Electricity use is roughly equally divided into three sectors. Private, business and services. There could be a bigger reduction in power used by the private user with the installation of home fuel cells and better solar panel systems.

Well China is building some 26 new reactors. Would you saying that they are sourcing their reactors from only those two?

Actually, to be more accurate the very heavy forging capacity in operation today is in Japan (Japan Steel Works), China (China First Heavy Industries, China Erzhong, SEC), France (Le Creusot), and Russia (OMZ Izhora). but the output is still limited. http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/Power-Reactors/Heavy-Manufacturing-of-Power-Plants/

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Hi Zichi, What i have found is that, taking into account I have to rely on a separate technically qualified resource is that storage is the key to stable distribution.

I to be blunt I count beans, to the extent I calculate risk to my clients investment, I audit cost for variance and standard deviation to a project or fund. Many projects and investments pass in to my domain, I audit and assess there costs and report to a board.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

itsonlyrocknroll

Hi Zichi, What i have found is that, taking into account I have to rely on a separate technically qualified resource is that storage is the key to stable distribution.

I'm not a bean counter but I'm a qualified and experienced electrical engineer. Japan generates about 1,000TWh per year which the power utilities sell for about ¥20 trillion which costs about ¥13 trillion to generate leaving a very healthy profit of about ¥7 trillion.

Japan has one of the most crazy grid systems for a developed country allowing two frequency systems to develop alongside each other was pure insanity and probably can't be reformed due to costs. But in East Japan there three grid systems and in West Japan six grids. These need to be and can be reformed into single grid systems for both the East and West parts. Further improvements will develop with the new electrical supply companies. So power generated in Kyushu can be transmitted to Osaka. These companies will give choice to the consumers.

Certainly, when it comes to electrical power storage has remained the major obstacle but there have been some improvements like pumped hydro, technology reaching the point of making it worthwhile to produce hydrogen. A Canadian company have made some success with compressed air stored on sea beds.

A major problem created by nuclear energy was that the governments thought it was the future answer and heavily invested in it without seeking to also develop other energies. Nuclear energy is not renewable and limited by the deposits of uranium which could be increased by better reactors but still someday, the uranium will run out.

I think the renewable energies used and may be even the methods of storage developed will depend very much on locations, even within a single country.

You have provided a link to an EU paper but although very interesting sorry too long to make any real comment on it. I think any major "storage system" would have to involve the production of hydrogen to create the widest range of use and zero pollution.

Thanks for the link, which I will read.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Many thanks zichi, thats remarkable, I wonder how the authorities will set about task of decommissioning the redundant reactors, which theoretically could affect all 43 operable reactors if local residents file successful legal objections.

A group of 12 residents filed an appeal seeking to block Kyushu Electric Power Co restarting No. 2 reactor at its Sendai plant, which highlights the level of public opposition and mistrust that safety standards will not be adequately maintained by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

I have a sneaking suspicion that energy companies are sitting on further future rises in household bills although gauging how costlier is unclear from published data currently available from the government or energy sector.

The EU energy storage working paper is in its original 2011/12 draft and has subsequently been reviewed unfortunately commercial patents and copyright restrict me from sharing. But the overall concept remains unchanged just the technology has advanced. Sorry it is so lengthy but it does give a insight into all the challenges ahead.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

itsonlyrocknroll

the nine mainland power utilities of Japan are the most powerful group of companies in the country and over many decades became the bed fellows of the LDP making very large donations. There's something like ¥50 trillion locked into the current fleet of reactors and the power utilities along with their LPD partners will be doing everything in their power to milk the cash cow.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What an unholy mess. I am assuming that the funding for the idle reactors will be separated from future deregulation?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is perfect for pumped-storage electricity due to all the mountains. Could dot those all across the country for resilience. Tie in municipal waste generation like Sweden has done, add the thermals: geothermal, hydrothermal, heliothermal long before you even get to more expensive wind and solar and working together in concert you have a switch to green energy. Basically electricity is the denominator. Whatever can produce or reduce electricity is the game here. That would create local national jobs that can't be exported and hope for the future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hey itsonlyrocknroll -> To be honest, I know there is a lot of development in pumped Hydro storage, but... personally i do not find this to be the right way because your energy conversion rate is only 87% at the maximum estimated, thou it's usually 70 - 80%, where if you invest in electrolysis, you can reach a conversion rate off 98% with stainless steel which is a cheap material and 99.8% with platinum. Using salt water, will create the toxin, but on the other hand the salt would be working as an electrolyte. The problem is placed in the government funding. The government funding usually goes to the companies/industry, that has the highest advance, therefore more the average estimate for a high-powered electrolysis system will only have an efficiency of 60% - 90% where as, electrolysis works best at 1.475 volts, with an pulsation of 550 - 800hz which gives you an efficiency of almost 100%. The government don't really understand that, so they will rather fund systems where you just put a high voltage in and lift something up, and then produce energy again when it falls.

conclusion Again i think its wrong but you have to follow the money flow, and if a company wants to build some kind of energy system they could right as well get the government funding.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government last month proposed bringing nuclear energy back to account for 20-22% of the nation’s electricity mix by 2030, seeking to reduce Japan’s huge reliance on imported fossil fuels and lift the economy out of two decades of anemic growth.

It shows how little - as usual this government has been listening to the people

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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