national

Oi No. 3 reactor restarts, but Japan's energy policy in flux

55 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

55 Comments
Login to comment

I have a question,not having a scientific mind. Before the Fukushima disaster there were 54 reactors on line in Japan, maybe not all running at the same time due to maintenance, but only producing 30% of Japans, electricity. My question, " 54 reactors, are they not sufficient to provide 100% of Japans needs of electricity." " and if so, shouldn't the cost to the consumer be a fraction of what is charged now " sorry thats 2 questions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Minello. Japan has mountainous areas and lots of rivers. In some cases, the nuclear power plants are just too far from the people or factories that need the electricity. In those cases it is much more logical to produce local energy, rather than transport it over a huge distance. The problem is indeed that the power companies have neglected year after year after year to invest their profits in renewable energy on a decent scale, instead playing risky and short term thinking with the nuclear.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

minello7Jul. 06, 2012 - 09:04AM JST

I have a question,not having a scientific mind. Before the Fukushima disaster there were 54 reactors on line in Japan, maybe not all running at the same time due to maintenance, but only producing 30% of Japans, electricity.

They produced about 30% but accounted for less than 25% of the generation capacity. Electricity production isn't about producing 100% all the time, it is about producing what you use when you use it. Nuclear provided the stable base load power, so the amount people use at night+ amount to charge certain other systems like pumped hydro. During peak, nuclear accounts for as little as 20%, but off-peak, it was over 80% in some places.

My question, " 54 reactors, are they not sufficient to provide 100% of Japans needs of electricity." " and if so, shouldn't the cost to the consumer be a fraction of what is charged now " sorry thats 2 questions.

First part, see above. Second part, no, it costs only 6 yen per kWh to produce nuclear (including transmission and insurance fees), 8-14 yen a kWh for fossil fuels (dirty coal is cheapest, then natural gas, clean coal, then oil), and a whopping 50-60 yen per kWh for solar. Since nuclear was the cheapest, the cost, even at 20-30% of total, is going to increase drastically (several percentage points).

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

The feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme requires utilities to buy electricity from renewable sources at pre-set premiums for up to 20 years. Costs will be passed on to consumers through higher bills to boost renewables, which apart from large hydro-electric dams now account for a mere 1 percent of Japan’s power supply.

FIT will cost the economy 100-400 trillion yen per percentage point increase in renewable as a function of total energy production per year. And that's in the tariff alone, the cost of installing that much solar would cost another 300 trillion or more. I doubt that the government thought it through, because that is up to twice the GDP of Japan, and no less than half the GDP. I don't care who you pass on the bill to, the economy simply can't afford it.

Japan lags way behind internationally in renewables after neglecting the sector for years to concentrate on nuclear power.

Clearly the writer has agendas here. Japan lags simply as a function of economics and geography. Large scale solar panels just aren't possible at reasonable costs. Hence Japan has focused on small footprint power stations like coal, gas, oil, and nuclear, simply because they don't have enough space.

Globally, renewable energy accounted for around 20 percent of electricity production in 2011, according to Renewable Energy Policy for the 21st Century, with around 15 percent of that coming from hydropower.

Hydro is considered separate in Japan, and even Japan has a fairly sizable amount of production where they can. The quote here probably includes non-commercial production, and is overestimating the percentage produced because of that.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

zichiJul. 06, 2012 - 09:52AM JST

The prefectures have also received brides from the power companies,

Feudal-japan style human trafficking? I guess you meant to say brides and their dowries, or probably just the dowry without the bride.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Based on the facts zichi presented, nuclear is a lose lose situation. Way.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Electricity in Japan is ridiculously cheap. Try living in Australia. Jaw-droppingly expensive and we pay a carbon tax now so China, Japan and India can get cheap energy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

TheBigPictureJul. 06, 2012 - 10:29AM JST

Based on the facts zichi presented, nuclear is a lose lose situation. Way.

What "facts"? The estimated peak power Japan needs? That's actually more than the official estimates, and in fact more than Japan ever had! The actual demand numbers are about 180GW for summer, 170GW or so after "savings". Japan's capacity is only about 210GW, maybe 220-230GW if you include both nuclear AND long-idled plants. Check http://eneken.ieej.or.jp/data/3938.pdf .

Lets also look at his 400 billion R&D budget. Assuming that is correct, which we can't be certain of, we can see the cost-benefit using the expected increase in prices vs the R&D cost. Average operational costs per kWh are expected to rise by 3.7 yen per kWh, and either customers pay it or the companies pay it. If the companies pay it (which they have so far), it would amount to about 3-3.7 trillion yen in lost profit. From a 40.7% corporate tax, we are looking at over a trillion yen (almost 1.5 trillion) in lost tax revenues. For those figures, nuclear R&D is a very profitable investment, returning 3 yen for every yen you put in. Even if corporate tax was only 20%, they would get much more in taxes than they give out.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

It is not a question of "public safety fears" on one side and "worries about high electricity costs costs on the other" -that is far too simplistic a debate. The issue, considered by and reported on, by the Japanese parliament summed up thus:

"The Fukushima nuclear meltdown was a “man-made” disaster caused in large part by Japan’s culture of deference and collusion between the government, regulators and the plant operator."

Thus, it can be seen that the industry is unable to regulate itself. The most dangerous power known to man is being handled by liars and incompetents on an island which sits on numerous fault lines,likely to destroy any structure that happens to be above them.

The effects of the fallout have been seen in plants and animals and are increasingly being seen in humans.

Cancers,heart disease,infertility and genetic generational physical abnormalities are the results of errant nuclear power.

Fukushima still has a highly radioactive environment that cannot be contained and is still poisoning us-presently there are no remedies to prevent this.

Steps to continue with nuclear power which is already killing us all to some degree or another is abhorrent!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

According to this article in the Japan Times (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nb20120608a1.html)

Households pay about 90 percent of the utility's income but use only about 40 percent of the total supply.

Mind-boggling.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

zichiJul. 06, 2012 - 10:53AM JST

A rough calculation. ¥400 trillion would equal to something like 10 billion kWh? The cost of installing solar ¥300 trillion? At appox price of ¥1 million per 2 sq m panel would equal 300 million panels?

There was a small issue in the change up between yen and dollar rates, just divide everything by 80. I'm tired, been busy with work, I can make a slipup every once in a while. Interestingly, the second post looks about right, probably because all of the data was in yen.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Basroil,

just divide everything by 80. I'm tired, been busy with work, I can make a slipup every once in a while.

Now you ask for understanding for your slip ups? But when Zichis iPad (or what ever device he was using) auto corrected "bribe" to "bride", you found it necessary to spend an entire post taunting him about it.

I would like you to really consider the purpose of your posts here. I think you would do your cause a favor by posting a few well informed posts a day, instead of flooding the forum with disinformation and disagreement.

To many of your posts just sound like the 'Argument Clinic' skit by Monty Python. The only difference being, it ain't funny.

-Respectfully, Squids United

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I'm pretty sure "that" person is being paid by "that industry"

5 ( +5 / -0 )

zichiJul. 06, 2012 - 11:56AM JST

By 2030, the cost of nuclear energy will be 3 or 4 times the price of energy from wind, solar, biomass.... We would still be left with the problem of storing the nuclear waste.

If all the reactors were decommisioned it will cost about ¥5 trillion. The total worth of the 9 mainland power companies is about ¥4.5 trillion, and three of those would go bankrupt. So I guess the taxpayer again, will end up paying these costs.

Using what math here? You yourself stated 150 trillion not long ago. 5 trillion over 30 years (minimum decommission time) is 167 billion yen a year. Oi 3-4 alone makes 10TWh a year on average including downtime from Fukushima. Even assuming that Oi is the only plant (and since 3-4 are 13 years newer than 1-2, they won't be scheduled for shutdown until past 2025), the "price for nuclear" is increased by 16 yen to 22 yen per kWh. That's still half to a third of the expected cost for a new solar panel installation, and about the same as high output wind sites. Japan makes nowhere near enough food for biomass, so unless you want 1000 yen slices of bread lets just forget that silly idea.

If they go back to 15% like they said, you increase the cost by 1 yen per kWh at most, and (assuming prices are fixed into the future), it would still be cheaper than coal, gas, oil, and the "renewables" by a fair margin. And these numbers assume just 50% capacity rather than 85% that is the world average.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

basroil

Second part, no, it costs only 6 yen per kWh to produce nuclear (including transmission and insurance fees), 8-14 yen a kWh for fossil fuels (dirty coal is cheapest, then natural gas, clean coal, then oil), and a whopping 50-60 yen per kWh for solar. Since nuclear was the cheapest, the cost, even at 20-30% of total, is going to increase drastically (several percentage points).

How predictable: more distrotion disguised as information. It is so easy to just repeat the standard anwer given by the self-interested, pro-nuclear industry instead of doing some critical thinking. Did this information come right off of the Tepco homepage?

If we calculate the true cost of nuclear energy, we must include all the externalities, such as the decades-long payments to deal with the man-made nuclear disaster, as well as the cost of waste storage, decommissioning and the lost opportunity costs of not investing in renewable energy and energy effienct technologies? Also, the cost of solar keeps going down as the technology improves and the demand increases.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Thankyou all, I think you answered my questions with clarity, its been an education reading the posts.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nuclear waste disposal and de-commissioning costs are the elephant in the room. As alluded to these costs will consume the balance sheet of all Japanese utilities and much more....and then guess who gets stuck with the bill....again?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

zichiJul. 06, 2012 - 01:50PM JST

The cost of nuclear energy will rise ¥1.6/kWh for every ¥1 trillion spent on the Fukushima nuclear disaster. ¥30 trillion will increase costs to ¥48/kWh

But if you do the calculations it actually amounts to 3.3yen per kWh per trillion if ONLY Oi 3-4 are restarted at 50%, or 0.25 yen per kWh per trillion if 15% is nuclear. For $30 trillion in costs (about 500 times more than official estimates), you are looking at 7.5 yen/kWh, which brings the cost up to 14 yen/kWh which is just about the same as LNG, so very cheap comparatively.

My numbers are simple 30 year amortization, which likely are actually too high year to year since you stated 5 trillion (17%) would be decommissioning which takes place no earlier than 30 years.

Do tell us where those numbers are, I haven't seen them anywhere but in activist blogs.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

10 points basroil you are a persistent troll

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The turf sure is growing thick in here lately. I would guess it is the best turf that can be bought with brown envelopes full of dirty money..

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Monju in Fukui and Rokkasho in Aomori are being given the green light too it seems, although Monju may take until 2050 to come properly on line.

There are suggestions that Japan may wish to have the added option of a defensive nuclear deterrent.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

CrickyJul. 06, 2012 - 03:05PM JST

10 points basroil you are a persistent troll

I really do wonder why blatant attacks on me are considered fair game but even calling someone "clearly unqualified" is grounds for my posts to disappear without notification... I'm starting to think the moderation rules need to be more defined and followed on an equal basis.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

zichiJul. 06, 2012 - 04:03PM JST

Is that happening at the atomic plant you work in Hokkaido?

Now you just sound like an anti-nuclear activist idiot.

I don't work for Hokuden, makers of nuclear reactors, or subcontractors. I've said that in the past, and this is the last time I will say it.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Basroil, you idiot. Zichi is not named "zichijul". That is zichi + JUL, the current month. The name is "zichi", as any person can see except you. No one can respect you here, and with such simple errors, it does seem you are trying to play in the wrong sandbox. Bon voyage.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

zichiJul. 06, 2012 - 04:45PM JST

This kind of ideas along with the likes of Bloom Energy Servers can help to reduce power demand greatly, or like the new cooling venting machine Coke has come up with. Cools the drinks only over night and then the drinks are cool for 16 hours.

Bloom servers are nice, with good theoretical efficiency, nice and compact. But only in California. While they have 10 cents a kWh there, you can expect 1.5-3x that here, so still more expensive than coal or nuclear here. Much better idea than solar though, but also kills the Kyoto protocol.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

zichiJul. 06, 2012 - 06:45PM JST

I guess by the end of your comment, "kills the Kyoto protocol" you have even bothered to read up what Bloom Energy Servers are, because they produce zero emissions.

Bloom makes hydrocarbon fed fuel cells. Because they use natural gas, they produce CO2. They output as much CO2 as a regular gas turbine for about the same energy.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Hey guys, forget about Basroil, the paid Troll. Don't get bogged down, there are more pressing issues at hand.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

@Basroil

zichi stated that the Bloom Boxes were fed Bio Gas, which means it is a zero sum game for environmental CO2.

Because they use natural gas, they produce CO2. They output as much CO2 as a regular gas turbine for about the same energy.

Not completely true they are much more efficient than a gas turbine, so even when you run them on LNG or some other fossil fuel they output much less CO2 per KW than a traditional thermal power plant or gas turbine.

The get something like 50% to 55% conversion efficiency. with 0.8 pounds/kWh CO2 ouput for LNG , Compared electricity from coal-fired plants (2 lbs/kWh) or natural gas plants (roughly 1.3 lbs/kWh).

Once again, with Bio Gas the net output becomes 0.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

And, yes that was good advice Penfold.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

SquidBertJul. 06, 2012 - 07:08PM JST

zichi stated that the Bloom Boxes were fed Bio Gas, which means it is a zero sum game for environmental CO2.

CAN be bio gas, usually just regular natural gas, and in Japan, would 100% be natural gas since bio-gas fuels are economically impossible. Bio anything is NOT net zero, as you need more CO2 to produce the feed than you save.

Nuclear on the other hand IS zero CO2 production during energy generation. Wind and solar too

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Bio anything is NOT net zero, as you need more CO2 to produce the feed than you save.

You are wrong(as usual), but I am going to take Penfold's advice and start celebrating my week end.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

He has Freinds under the bridge?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

zichiJul. 07, 2012 - 01:02AM JST

The atomic power industry, posted combined losses of 1.6 trillion yen ($20 billion) in the year ended March.

With 1.5 trillion directly associated with fuel costs that they can't pass onto customers without first asking the government.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Hey, just re-start the nukes and let's hope there are no more earthquakes/tsunamis, lol.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yes, I saw that on TV this evening. Apparently they had an internal discussion on whether to cut back power as the filters were full of jellyfish, but as numbers have since dropped off they made a final decision to crank it up to 100% power.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

zichiJul. 08, 2012 - 06:39PM JST

Even the jellyfish is anti-nuclear these days in Japan. A large number of jellyfish clogged up the water intake at Oi Nuclear Power Plant, and KEPCO may be forced to delay the full operation of Reactor 3.

Odd, jellyfish are typically going after places with high salinity and temperature, yet the water there shouldn't be that warm yet. Easy enough to clean up though, and not that time sensitive.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

zichiJul. 08, 2012 - 05:30PM JST

The gov't needs to remove the monopoly that for decades the power companies have held. A monopoly on both power generation and on power supply.

It goes against common sense that the only company in Kansai which can both generate power and supply it, is the Kansai power company. There's needs to be a separation of companies which generate power from other companies which supply customers. In all countries which have removed this type of monopoly, the customer has benefitted with lower power charges.

I agree that the monopoly is a bad idea for residential customers, since they get stuck with huge administrative fees on top of production and transmission (which are higher than major lots). At the same time, unless they have a unified power management system, it will end up like the USA, where a few downed power lines can shut down thousands of houses, and a blown substation can turn off electricity to half the country. Even with that issue, some sort of deregulation is needed, especially if it allows people to decide the source of their power (people who want solar can buy it, those that want the cheapest price can get the cheapest price.

There are basically two grids in the country, one for the east and the other for the west. I see no reason why there can't be better use of smart grid systems which can move power to were it's needed. Someone in Kansai, could be buying power from Kyushu.

There was some talks about adding more 765kV lines to allow the companies to share. Problem is that they all peak around the same time, and all are expecting to be at the margin if temperatures hit 35 for an extended time.

The gov't needs an expert investigation into power generation and what are the best energies to use. If nuclear power is limited to 15%, that still leaves the other 85%. Which renewable energies,like geothermal can be increased, how much power can be generated from wind, solar, biomass. What other alternatives are on the horizon.

Again, biomass doesn't make sense for Japan, since the primary source would be burnable trash, but that has too low a energy density to be viable outside major cities. Natural source geothermal is also difficult because Japan has pretty much turned all the best places into onsen, and pumped geothermal is very bad for the environment (heavy metal pollution and earthquakes). Wind/solar take too much space, about 58km^2 per GW for solar and five times that for wind.

But they should research future energy production methods, since an energy revolution would not only bring cheap power, but also be a great export. I just can't see current alternative energy methods being useful for Japan (usually cost ratio is far too large and will drive the country further into debt)

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites