Nobel winner Oe urges Japan to abandon nuclear power


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Agreed that it seems that Japan could actually do without nuclear power stations but completely "earthquake and tsunami proof" just isn't possible. Yes, Fukushima may be on or near five fault lines but so is almost everywhere else in the Greater Kanto area. In fact, basically all of Japan is on or near fault lines!

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I believe it would actually be possible to build an enclosed power station with enough juice to run key equipment at the plant that could survive anything but Japan literally sinking into the ocean, which is near enough to completely earthquake and tsunami proof. Short of that, generators could be put on ships ready to respond to these nuke plants on shore. It is just astounding that their plans A, B, C and D were all so half-assed and fell like dominoes and they are surprised.

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Yet another academic who can't distinguish between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons.

Viable establishment of alternative energy sources and associated infrastructure needs to be in place before we throw the baby out with the bathwater. How about being a little more pragmatic Oe-san (and everyone else of the same feather)? You've made clear your endgame of a Japan free of nuclear power. Now how about suggesting some realistic steps to achieve it?

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Baby and bathwater? Its one ugly baby and more than half gone anyway.

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Nuclear energy is good, as there is nothing to replace it at the moment. Build giant cement walls around the things. Japanese love cement so that should be easy.

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This writer has also been very vocal in speaking against abuses committed by the Japanese army on Okinawan civilians. He obviously has a strong social conscience.

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"Yet another academic who can't distinguish between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons."

He's not even an academic. He's a novelist. WTF?

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He's not even an academic. He's a novelist. WTF?

Academic, Novelist, Literary genius, whatever. He knows nothing about nuclear energy other than it gives him the willies, so he thinks it should be banned outright.

What these academics/novelists/literature folks/singers fail to recognize is if you BAN all nuclear power plants, then you've go to come up with something to replace it.

Coal? Nope, that won't work it's not green.

Solar panels? Nope, that won't work there's not enough land in Japan to create enough electricity.

Windmills? Nope, same problem.

Geothermal? Maybe, but it would take years, and BILLIONS upon BILLIONS of dollars (not Yen) just to FIND OUT if it's feasible or not. It's a bit more complicated than sticking some pipes down an onsen.

Ocean Currents? Again, maybe, but it will take YEARS and BILLIONS just to find out if it's feasible or not.

Maybe if everybody joined hands and sang love songs enough electricity will magically appear from nowhere.

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Gaijinfo> I don't know what little island in lake Biwa you are living on but not only does Japan still have coal-fired electricity plants that are operational but they used to mine coal in Kyushu until fairly recently. They also mined uranium in Tottori until they realised they could import it more cheaply and with less fuss. My dad spent many hours 2km underground to send coal to Rio Tinto and Japan. There is also no shortage of land in Japan. It does look small on the map though. Solar power and wind power are also being utilised in Japan.

Having said that, my hometown sips out more coal than anywhere else on the earth and I am not proud of that. The obvious allure of nuclear is the productivity and it doesn't pollute the air as much as coal and coke...

Until a fukushima when coal looks positively green.

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So you are definitely right in your argument that nothing can replace the effectiveness of nuclear power at the moment but then at the same time we can't be sure exactly what the energy needs are here because the utilities were actually making plenty enough power even as they demanded powercuts. In fact, it came out today that Tepco has been overcharging Tokyo customers for ten years. Without knowing the actual power needs how do we know What is needed to replace or augment it. Sorry.. My last post sounded very cocky and bitter. That was not my intention.

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Gaijinfo> my apologies for the previous bout of mangina. :) ok as for solar power and land space, I think it might be time to think outside of the grid. At present we buy our power and are at the mercy of power companies. What I personally think the answer would be would be for every building to be producing or at least augmenting power to sustain itself in tandem with trying to lower usage. It may be a pipe dream but could it not be possible to have solar arrays on every building if the technology became cheap enough and more advanced? I think such ways of thinking are the only way forward as the global populatiom grows. Devices have to become less energy reliant at the same time. Maybe we will see technologies in which appliances charge while they are on a grid, with new battery cell tech. But in such a case I think power utility companies will block the technology because they exist for profit first and foremost.

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People bash and protest everything. Especially the nosy Americans.

Nuclear power is here to stay, it won't be going anywhere despite what "they tell you".

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Japan Can survive without NPP's EASY. From 1965 to 1996 Japan had converted 130 incinerators to generate electricity of the some 2,000 incinerators in Japan, 130 were producing a total of 640 megawatts of power, or an oil equivalent of 232,000 kiloliters. So each incinerator outfitted to generate electricity is producing 4900+ kilowatts of electricity just by burning the trash it would normally burn anyway.

640 megawatts = 640 000 kilowatts.

And more incinerators have been converted since 1996. I believe I read at least 1000 more incinerators are generating electricity. Trash to steam power plants.

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I think that a fast exit from nuclear power is not possible in Japan. The society and the economy are far too lazy for the adaptation. Even though Japan doesn't really need nuclear power now, the power consumption for really useful purposes (like electric cars) will increase. You could see very well in summer how they couldn't even manage one summer of setsuden, so there are no chances for Japan becoming a green nation on short time scales. However, on intermediate time scales, Japan could manage without nuclear if they really want.

The argument of gaijinfo that there is not enough space for solar and wind is quite short-sighted. You can put wind PPs offshore and even if You don't, they don't take up too much space. In my country (Germany), predictions are that 0.75% of the surface is sufficient for wind PPs supporting 20% of the country's energy consumption. No one would worry about a few percent of the surface, if it is stable without serious accidents. Fukushima Daiichi alone currently consumes far more. The instability of the power supply due to changing winds is also very well researched by now. Typical fluctuations in Germany are around 10% of the average production of wind PPs. They are predictable (yes, we can predict wind on time scales of hours or days quite precisely) and You can use gas PPs to exactly compensate these fluctuations (because they are the only PPs which can be switched on and off in a matter of seconds). The only factors that prevent major reliance on renewable sources are laziness, stupidity and greed.

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Granted Oe-san seems he's being extreme, while Noda sounds like he actually has a practical approach to the problem - if the utilization supply/demand numbers really are as we are lead to believe. However, it will take a lot of hard pushing to re-steer the huge inertia of the established corporations, their lobbyists, the bureaucracy, and even military-feeds in some cases that have formed around nuclear power. Maybe this is where Oe-san is coming from.

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You could see very well in summer how they couldn't even manage one summer of setsuden

What are you talking about? We got through the summer of setsuden with not a single power cut, indeed with power to spare. Some people succumbed to heat stroke from not using the air-conditioners they were advised to use, but there was enough spare energy that they could have used them without making mush of a dent in power consumption.

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I agree with serendipitous, not possible to build something completely earthquake or tsunami proof.

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Cleo, To be fair, we got through the summer thanks to the sacrifices of many a factory family. Weekday work was shifted to graveyard and weekends, robbing families of normal time together (and friends time with other friends) in order to spread out consumption. I'm not saying we can't get by without nuclear or that we won't be able to in the future, just wanting to point out that we should be showing some love to the people who got us through this summer of setsuden. Their suffering meant we didn't have to.

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taj, I wouldn't disagree with a word you wrote. I'm well aware that lots of people made lots of sacrifices - and many are still making sacrifices - to get us through the summer of setsuden. That's in direct contrast to Johannes Weber's claim that people are 'far too lazy' to adapt. People did adapt, and we did manage. Some of the changes may not be sustainable over the long term, but we got through the summer.

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Johannes WeberSep. 08, 2011 - 01:48PM JST

The argument of gaijinfo that there is not enough space for solar and wind is quite short-sighted. You can put wind PPs offshore and even if You don't, they don't take up too much space.

The current wind turbines in Japan have to deal with more wind gusts, typhoons and lightning strikes than those in Europe. Offshore would be challenging considering the stormy nature of the areas around Japan.

Also, wind power has to contend with two things - intermittency, i.e. the wind not blowing at a useful speed all the time. Average availability is 20%. Also, wind turbines need an average separation of 1 square kilometre per 2MW output.

Nuclear power output in 2010 was 32500MW - so to replace that capacity, factoring in the 20% availability, would require 162500MW of wind turbines - covering 81250 square kilometres.

Now Japan is around 375,000 square kilometres, but only 30% of that area is flat land - 112500 square kilometres.

So a wind power solution for replacing NPPs, not even touching the power storage needed for when the wind is not available covers just over 70% of Japan's flat land. That doesn't even account for the fact that most of the wind power is concentrated in Hokkaido and Tohoku.

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