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Japan nuclear power outlook bleak despite first reactor restart

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By Kentaro Hamada and Aaron Sheldrick

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"worried about meeting tougher safety standards"??? - why? you ignored them before but maybe its the cost desho!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

But offering some hope to nuclear operators, some aging units may be given a new lease of life as the NRA considers applications for operation beyond the standard 40 years.

This is madness! This is nuclear reactors they are talking about, not vintage cars! You can replace parts in an old car when it breaks down, but an ageing reactor is a completely different story. The way the Japanese government is determined to keep nuclear power reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Bart kept pushing the electric buzzer. How many nuclear disasters will it take to make them realize that, nuclear power is not safe or cheap? There is still issue of storage of nuclear waste and the costs of dismantling (and storing) the reactors that will never go back online. It's just crazy! The only reason they are so determined to hang onto it is because they have invested so many billions of dollars into it over the fifty years of using it and because the power cartels are hand-in-hand with the government.

Japan has many large rivers and mountains, yet hydroelectricity is not widely utilized. Australia is the driest continent on earth, but it has one of the largest hydroelectric schemes on the planet. It took 30 years to build at a huge cost, but it paid for itself in the first ten years and now supplies one third of the electricity for south-eastern Australia cheaply and safely with very little environmental impact. I get sick of hearing the apathetic whining about how Japan has no resources. Wake up Japan!

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Sure the people remain skeptical of nuclear energy, but they themselves haven't likely experienced the full economic impacts of living without nuclear. With consumer household rates rising by roughly 12-15%, its been big industry, government and utilities who have been experiencing blow after blow. For a country so reliant on energy imports and with renewable generation still unreliable, having nuclear a part of the mix is crucial for a country like Japan.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Sure the people remain skeptical of nuclear energy, but they themselves haven't likely experienced the full economic impacts of living without nuclear. With consumer household rates rising by roughly 12-15%, its been big industry, government and utilities who have been experiencing blow after blow. For a country so reliant on energy imports and with renewable generation still unreliable, having nuclear a part of the mix is crucial for a country like Jspan.

Wow! You've swallowed ther pill, haven't you? You should have taken the blue pill! Yes, electricity tariffs have increased by a little over 10%, but do you actually believe that, when the reactors are back online the tariffs will be reduced? Of course they won't be! The money will be used to prop up the already failing nuclear power industry.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Upgrade the Dams not the Nuclear Reactors, convert incinerators to waste to energy plants, there is geothermal, wind, solar, sea currents... There are many many ways to create energy... Please leave Nuclear alone.... Just entomb Fukushima Daiichi..

2 ( +6 / -4 )

@Disillusioned,

Japan has many large rivers and mountains, yet hydroelectricity is not widely utilized.

While I share much of your sentiment regarding the apparent pursuit of nuclear power generation in Japan and the desire to use alternative power sources, particularly something like hydroelectric power, the above is not actually really accurate.

Japan has aggressively pursued hydroelectric power as a power source and, indeed, has worked hard to bring new large-scale power generating dams on line. In fact, everyone involved loves dams because it requires long-term government involvement, it involves huge projects for construction companies, and it generally results in funds flowing to rural areas, which tend to be LDP strongholds.

The challenge is that Japan has dammed most of the rivers where large scale hydroelectric plants/dams are technically possible. The bureaucrats have also identified those remaining to be targeted, but it is increasingly more difficult to get this done due to local opposition of residents potentially targeted. A good example is the Yamba Dam project in Gunma. See below:

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/construction-of-controversial-yamba-dam-resumes

It is true that there is a great deal of theoretical capacity available from small scale dams and alternative hydroelectric generation facilities. However, it takes a significantly higher number of projects to generate the same power generation as a large hydroelectric dam or as a nuclear facility. Making it easier to default to the obvious solutions.

I am not disagreeing with your point that Japan should aggressively look at exploring all practical and cost effective means of exploring hydroelectric power generation, but just noting the realities.

Conversely, Japan is facing the very real limitations with utilising nuclear power as a primary power source. As you note, there are the fundamental issues of the costs of dismantling obsolete facilities and the long term storage of waste, something that was never really contemplated when nuclear power generation was in its infancy. And then, of course, the very real physical risks associated with nuclear power in Japan due to earthquakes and tsunami.

Unfortunately, there is no magic solution here. Traditional fossil fuel plants are the obvious near term solution but carry with them a negative carbon footprint profile. Apart from large scale dams, hydroelectric plants cannot compete in terms of the amount of generation per individual facility. The same is most certainly true for both solar and wind projects.

So, what is the solution?! I suppose in one sense this problem will partly solve itself in the coming decades, as Japan's population dramatically shrinks, but I am not sure that is really a policy solution to this problem.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Disillusioned SEP. 03, 2015 - 07:58AM JST Yes, electricity tariffs have increased by a little over 10%, but do you actually believe that, when the reactors are back online the tariffs will be reduced? Of course they won't be! The money will be used to prop up the already failing nuclear power industry.

How many people died in Fukushima? Let me guess, zero? How many people died in coal mining accident that Germans are converting their power to? 6,000 per year? In the three years following Fukushima, Japan spent $270 billion on coal, oil, and LNG imports and close to 60 percent increase over what it otherwise would have spent had its nuclear fleet remained online. That forced Japan to run a trade deficit. It takes a long-term commitment to get the scale necessary in renewables or hydro to produce meaningful amounts of the power. There are physical limits on renewable and hydro energy, with wind power it's reliant on onshore winds and with solar it's space and sunlight. As you go down the list of clean fuels, those energy sources take up too much space, rely on intermittent power sources or are simply too expensive to produce, what you end up with is nuclear and natural gas.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

It always makes me laugh when people say that Japan should use more hydro dams than nuclear reactors because they’re safer.

If you ignore what happened in China in the 70s where hundreds of thousands of people died as a result of dams breaking. How safe do you think a dam would be in a severe earthquake..? And how much impact would that have… and compare that to what happened in Fukushima…

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Japan should have sizable geothermal resources. If mountain ridges should be lined with wind turbines, south-facing slopes dotted with PVs, so be it.

Energy harvesting and energy management can let Japan show the rest of the world how to have a 21st century system.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Many fatalities can be attributed to Fukushima, not just tens but hundreds. Many of them were suicides and accidents around the Fukushima nuclear power plant and among the people who used to live in Fukushima. Now the Japanese government is acting like a criminal and forcing hundreds of thousands of evacuees to settle back in Fukushima. Think about how many people in Fukushima would get side effects from radiation poisoning like infertility and birth deformities. It happened in Chernobyl. Both Fukushima and Chernobyl are Level 7 Nuclear Disasters according to the INES scale. And don't forget that most people from Japan are exposed to nuclear radiation from eastern Japan by the agricultural and fishery produce from these regions. It's an invisible disaster and that's why so many Fukushima and eastern Japanese residents are fearful of nuclear reactors. That's why there were thousands of protesters near the recently restarted Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima. Most people, young and old, don't want these nuclear reactors to be restarted. Those who disagree only care about money and efficiency. But who says there aren't any efficient alternative energy sources? What happened to the massive plans for Japan to become a leader in solar power? Right now Hanwha Q cells, a Korean-German company is the leader in solar energy. Why can't they use solar panels from them? Japan has a lot of options, yet its choosing the most dangerous path.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Why call not being able to restart old, unsafe, and financially unfeasible reactors a "bleak" outlook?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Many fatalities can be attributed to Fukushima, not just tens but hundreds. Many of them were suicides

On it’s own, that sounds like many people killed themselves because of the nuclear power plant. However, when you look at the Miyagi and Iwate you will see that there have also been many suicides from people living there. People who have lost their homes and their livelihoods. The same as in Fukushima. And it’s completely wrong to suggest that people in Fukushima have killed themselves just because of the nuclear plant. The tragic suicides in other areas disprove that.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The U.S. has 23 reactors with the same kind of safety systems—and the same risky placement of pools for spent nuclear fuel, namely, alongside the main reactor in the top of the reactor building. Would U.S. reactors perform any better than Japan's in a crisis? And what lessons does Fukushima hold for reactor safety worldwide?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Objectively ...

Finding a truely viable way to store electricity generated by wind and solar is key to using those energy sources. Without it they will remain niche. Solar currently represents just over 1/2 of 1% of the worlds energy consumption. Wind makes up about 1%.

Unfortunately less nuclear energy has meant more fossil fuel imports for japan. "Japan is the world's largest liquefied natural gas importer, second-largest coal importer, and third-largest net importer of crude oil and oil products."

100s of thousands of people have lost their lives and millions of people have been displaced by dam failures around the world. Eco systems have been destroyed and others created by dams. Consider the difficulty building an earthquake proof dam in a region susceptible to devastating earthquakes and you'll soon realize why its so difficult for Japan to fully leverage hydro-electic dams. Hydro-electic represents about 6% of the worlds energy consumption.

Nuclear makes up about 7.5% of the worlds energy.

Fossil fuels (Crude Oil, Natural Gas and Coal) make up 83%

Biomass, Biofuels, Geothermal make up the rest.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This makes no sense at all. According to numerous articles on this subject the people of Japan do not want nuclear power stations but the government is committed to turning them back on for economic reasons. But even at best they can only produce 25pc of the total power.

Nuclear materials are dangerous beyond anything else because you can't destroy them. And when accidents occur the cost to human life is incalculable. Designers and humans in general make mistakes in their work so how can there ever be a "safe" nuclear installation. Will it take another Fukushima to end this madness.

Oh and isn't Japan desperately trying to increase tourism to the country, turning back on nuclear power stations will really help this!!!!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

ZombieNemesis SEP. 03, 2015 - 10:08AM JST Consider the difficulty building an earthquake proof dam in a region susceptible to devastating earthquakes and you'll soon realize why its so difficult for Japan to fully leverage hydro-electic dams.

Japan has ocean on all sides. The J-government can invest more into R&D with ​wave power. The ocean current power has largely remained untapped largely because building, deploying, and maintaining power-generating equipment underwater, in the middle of a major current, would be costly. Still, the potential is huge, largely because ocean currents are predictable, stable, and carry a lot of energy. Ocean currents are relatively constant and flow in one direction, in contrast to tidal currents along the shore. The ocean currents carry a great deal of energy because of the density of water. Water is more than 800 times denser than air.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

.......... How about a drive to use less electricity........just a thought

3 ( +4 / -1 )

They have the technology to go renewable. Solar would be my number 1 choice, but there are so many: tidal, geothermal, hydroelectric, wind. If ALL of these renewable energies were utilized, Japan would be completely energy free. Its not that they can't. But there vested interests that keep us from utilizing them.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

japan is pushing solar very hard, they are trying there best, give them some credit for that

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why not cover the decommissioned nuclear reactors with solar panels. This would give them a new life and create clean energy.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Heda_MadnessSEP. 03, 2015 - 08:59AM JST It always makes me laugh when people say that Japan should use more hydro dams than nuclear reactors because they’re safer.

< It always makes me laugh reading continues pro nuclear comments from someone who doesn't even live in Japan. If you really cared about anything besides making money from promoting nuclear energy, you would understand more investment needs to be spent on renewable energies. Japans nuclear power will slowly phase out because it simply will cost too much to upgrade and meet the common sense safety requirements. There are many other forms of renewable energies besides hydro, but your still wearing blinders. The electricity that powers my house is almost 90% off grid, and all of it is coming from renewable energy that you claim doesn't work. >

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Indeed. I no longer live in Japan. No idea why you feel the need to include my personal information in a reply though. I mean is it remotely relevant to my point. Statistically have more people died from hydro? Are dams earthquake proof?

I have zero connections to the nuclear industry. Why is it that because I have a differing opinion I must work for the nuclear industry.

There are many forms of power other than nuclear...all of which statistically kill more than nuclear but I didn't bring them up as they aren't relevant to the previous poster.

Much like my location isn't relevant to this discussion and I would be interested to know why the moderators continue to allow it?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

yep, wind power also can be constructed anywhere, even on large farmlands among crops and animals..with no noise and no use of chemicals like nuclear does, it just like solar, they can be tried anywhere on this island, and they can create clean jobs, not like dirty ones that put the lives of employees and hosting communities on peril with any unforeseeable disaster.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

0 Good Bad Heda_MadnessSEP. 03, 2015 - 03:44PM JST Indeed. I no longer live in Japan. No idea why you feel the need to include my personal information in a reply though. < YOU told JT posters that you don't live in Japan, I only repeated it.>

Statistically have more people died from hydro? Are dams earthquake proof? < Still wearing those blinders I see, you chose to ignore the fact that my household energy is 90% off grid! and it is a danger to no one but people who profit from the use of Nuclear & fossil fuels.>

I have zero connections to the nuclear industry. < I only read your last 30 post of your profile, in that, there were 27 Pro nuclear comments, and 3 non related. When it comes to carrying about Japan, it appears the use of nuclear energy is the only true care you have.

There are many forms of power other than nuclear...all of which statistically kill more than nuclear.

< Please show me the statistics showing how my portable Fuel cell generator has statistically killed more than nuclear. >

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Statistics confirm: nuclear is safer and ecologically friendly.

Death/TWh: Solar 0.44 , Wind 0.15, Hydro 0.10, Nuclear 0.04

http://energyrealityproject.com/lets-run-the-numbers-nuclear-energy-vs-wind-and-solar/

http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2011/06/03/deaths-per-unit-of-electricity/

0 ( +2 / -2 )

But is it really relevant Stuart? I mentioned it after another poster felt the need to bring it up every time he responds. My location adds nothing to this location.

Stuart, I'm assuming that your house uses solar for part of that 90%? So, whose wearing the blinders? As the poster above has shown, more people die per KW of energy from solar than nuclear. These are facts, simple facts.

I've long said that I believe that Japan should have a mix of renewable and nuclear. If you went back far enough in my posts you would find that.

And thank you or telling me what my true care is. I post on the nuclear threads because I like to provide facts and figures to dispute the fear and falsehoods that others post.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@souka wind and solar power cannot be constructed anywhere. wind like solar requires significantly more land area than nuclear for a given power output. wind(mills) generate low frequency noise that can be hazardous to your health. try living near a windmill. wind and solar are inefficient power generators, expensive to maintain and have a significantly lower lifespan than nuclear. modern batteries used in wind and solar have a lifespan of only a paltry 10 years. companies build these backward technologies only because of government subsidies. wind and solar are unreliable. the only reliable renewable energy is hydropower.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@souka wind and solar power cannot be constructed anywhere. wind like solar requires significantly more land area than nuclear for a given power output. wind(mills) generate low frequency noise that can be hazardous to your health. try living near a windmill. wind and solar are inefficient power generators, expensive to maintain and have a significantly lower lifespan than nuclear. modern batteries used in wind and solar have a lifespan of only a paltry 10 years. companies build these backward technologies only because of government subsidies. wind and solar are unreliable. the only reliable renewable energy is hydropower.

I wouldn't necessarily say inefficient. There are countries in Europe that have implemented windmill generators and are doing just fine. Who says that the windmills have to be on land? I think the Japanese engineering is innovative enough to find a way to build them just off the coast.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@gyoza_tycoon. I would say they are inefficient they require vast tracts of lands for little unreliable power. Companies like Amazon and Google that say they are 90% or whatever percent renewable are only that on paper. In reality they sell their unreliable power to the grid and power themselves off the grid. Much like Germany which imports nuclear power from France. It is significant to note that France exports nuclear power to Germany, italy, Belgium, and Switzerland.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Heda: But is it really relevant Stuart? I mentioned it after another poster felt the need to bring it up every time he responds. My location adds nothing to this location.

Stuart, I'm assuming that your house uses solar for part of that 90%? So, whose wearing the blinders? As the poster above has shown, more people die per KW of energy from solar than nuclear. These are facts, simple facts.

< I already told you that my house energy is supplied from a portable fuel cell generator. Why are you going on about solar? I didn't realize you have selective sight with reading to, though you probably just ignoring and using deflection to skirt around the subject of discussion.> I also use one other method to generate electricity, the fuel cell generator is only powering about 55% of my electricity use, the other method cover 35%.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Wow. You should try and sleeping the other way around as you clearly have a chip on your shoulder. Why the need for the personal digs.

You use a fuel cell generator. Which covers what 90%, 55%, 35%... I'm confused. So perhaps you could explain where all of your electricity comes from. And then perhaps explain how it's scalable for the rest of the country.

I'd also be interested to know how you think I'm skirting around the discussion?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Heda_MadnessSEP. 04, 2015 - 08:00AM JST Wow. You should try and sleeping the other way around as you clearly have a chip on your shoulder. Why the need for the personal digs. < If you actually read my first post rather than just replying to just part of it, claiming my electricity comes from only solar, I would feel the need to point out your limited sight.>

You use a fuel cell generator. Which covers what 90%, 55%, 35%... I'm confused. So perhaps you could explain where all of your electricity comes from.

< 55% comes from a portable fuel cell generator! I simply installed a sub panel and ran the circuits I use the most! then tied the generator straight into the sub panel. The the other 35% comes from a several sources, Earth ground & radio wave powers the smallest items like cell phone charger. And yes, I use a very small solar & wind generation but none of it is life threatening to human or animal. I also use one more method but its a lot to explain to someone who would probably ignore or dismiss.>

And then perhaps explain how it's scalable for the rest of the country.

< Lol, as I've said before, there is no single silver bullet, especially nuclear energy! It will take a large collective of sources to eventually meet the needs and demands of a whole country. I'm just doing my little bit and hope more can do theirs in the future.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@stuart_hayward don't let your living off the grid fantasy run wild.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If you actually read my first post rather than just replying to just part of it, claiming my electricity comes from only solar, I would feel the need to point out your limited sight.

And this is what I actually said

Stuart, I'm assuming that your house uses solar for part of that 90%?

When criticising people for not reading posts properly, you probably should ensure that you've read those posts properly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ArimuraSEP. 04, 2015 - 09:38AM JST @stuart_hayward don't let your living off the grid fantasy run wild.

<I'm still using 10% on grid electricity. Please explain fantasy run wild. The only fantasy would be that someone like you or Heda_Madness would actually support the use of anything besides nuclear power.>

Heda: < My use of solar is NOT from a solar panel, I'm simply heating water with the sun in the summer months. Please show me statistics of the dangers of that. You can't, because there are NONE. Just because I'm not going to tell you every little detail, (in one post) about ALL my alternative energy uses, YOU keep making inaccurate assumptions.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I keep making inaccurate assumptions?

I said you would use solar for part of your energy. you accused me of saying it was all, you admit to using it for part as I said and you accuse me of making inaccurate assumptions.

Please show me statistics of the dangers of that. You can't, because there are NONE

more deaths per Kw of energy from solar than nuclear. Those are simple facts.

I don't deal in assumptions. Perhaps you shouldn't.

Oh and as you seem to be very selective in your reading I will reiterate what I've always said. The energy policy should be a mix of nuclear and renewables.

Fantasy. Is the world you live in.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Heda: There are different forms of solar heating than only using solar panels! I'm only heating water from the sun, it's water inside material that obsorbs radiant heat, with a lens above it to applify the sun. As I said, I only use it in the summer during peak demands. Your statistic DONT apply for this type of solar, water heating!

The company who made the portable fuel cell generator have had zero accident so far and my wind turban is surrounded with a thin cage, like a regular house fan. Both have overload, double protection before feeding the sub panel, the panel also is protected with Shun trip breakers as well.

Fantasy, I actually have a working system while you are only shooting down all alternatives as being too unsafe. Maybe you can volunteer to allow TEPCO to release the contaminated water into your front yard instead of the ocean, since you claim it's perfectly safe.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Brilliant. So your solar is unique is it? My statistic doesn't apply to Stuart...bizarre

I say that there should be a mix of nuclear and renewable. ..you accuse me of shooting down all alternatives

Do you actually read anything that people say?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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