politics

Gov't leans toward zero nuclear stance, but caution remains

77 Comments
By Linda Sieg

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

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

77 Comments
Login to comment

I am not supporting NUCLEAR power, I don't say "we need nuclear reactors." However, getting rid of something as necessary as electricity source BEFORE finding a substitute seems just plain stupid. It's easy to get rid of the reactors, but are they already making sure there will be enough electricity that will not cost half of a monthly salary? If not, then all the sources are just playing election games and making the population suffer.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

all the sources = all the sides

0 ( +2 / -2 )

1) Except for the Oi reactors there are no reactors running in Japan and we're doing fine.

2) Japan has added 0.5 GW of renewable electricity within a month since the FIT started. Japan may add up to 20 GW of renewable electricity by 2030 (equivalent of 20 nuclear reactors).

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Don't forget that the vast majority of the LDP politicians favour a "greater than 25%" option. Of course, this has nothing to do with contributions they receive from electricity companies.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Wait, make that 2016, not 2030...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

In Japan renewable energy has already been doubling every 2 years even before Fukushima. In 2009 Japan had 2,627 MW of renewable electricity, in 2011 that nearly doubled to 4,914 MW.

By the end of 2012 we are expected to have more than 7,000 MW of renewable electricity. In 2 years that will double to 14 GW of electricity, and so on.

So in just 4 years, we will have 20 GW of renewable electricity, equivalent of 20 nuclear reactors. Incredible... Considering it takes a decade to even just build a single nuclear reactor.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

The government needs to create whatever incentives necessary to allow citizens to get solar panels cheaply, and swing Japanese R&D industry to create/deploy either spray on or window solar panels:

e.g. http://www.pcworld.com/article/241152/3m_film_turns_windows_into_transparent_solar_panels.html

Japan's difficulty is that people live in apartments and can't put up an array of solar panels on their mansions. In Australia and the US, a 1/4 acre block household with solar panels - if power is conserved - can end up with a quarterly power bill in credit. That's great if you have a house in Japan.... but an unlikely scenario for the bulk of the city dwelling population.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Wake me when an actual decision is made.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

What is little discussed in the endless politics of unlimited economic growth, is the obvious option of reducing energy usage. This and efficiency measures (many using existing technology) could quickly cover the loss of nuclear energy and beyond. All societies will eventually have to move to a different type of economy using a different valuation model as the planet cannot sustain rampant capitalism with compound growth. Entrenched interests will fight this drone and nail, but it will happen either peacefully and through egalitarian means or will be a violent and inequitable process. The haves are already hoarding and arming themselves as they expect the latter. The challenge, if we are to avoid heavy bloodshed, is how and when to shift and societies that get ahead of the curve will be the ones most of us would choose to live in.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

1) Except for the Oi reactors there are no reactors running in Japan and we're doing fine.

Doing fine = increasing the use of fossil fuels which we KNOW kills tens of thousands a year globally. Genius.

3 ( +13 / -10 )

Doing fine = increasing the use of fossil fuels which we KNOW kills tens of thousands a year globally.

Not to mention Japan's expanding trade deficit and the much bigger problem of climate change due to the burning of fossil fuels. Wind and solar will not provide the gigawatts necessary for an industrial nation. Not yet anyway.

"because it takes a static view of technology. Why would technology stop in its tracks?"

good point, along those lines nuclear technology has also been moving forward. Fukushima was a forty year old plant, technology and safety in new plants are light years better.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

KobeKid

Fukushima was a forty year old plant, technology and safety in new plants are light years better.

Which new plants in Japan are you referring to?

1 ( +9 / -8 )

In a highly stressed credit market, the price tag for nuclear construction— at least in the Western world—is too high. The latest overnight cost esti- mates for a dual-unit nuclear plant with an aggregate capacity of 2,236 MW is $5700 per kilowatt,28 a doubling in estimated overnight costs over the last 3-4 years.

< http://www.amacad.org/pdfs/nuclearreactors.pdf>

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Nearly all of the 54 reactors are Gen I or Gen II. There are only four Gen III reactors. Hamaoka-5, which has become contaminated with sea water. TEPCO's Kashiwazaki 6&7, but the governor of Niigata is opposed to restarting the plant. Shika-2 in Ishikawa which might have an active fault line under the plant.

Given the extend of the nuclear disaster, it's unlikely there are many prefectures which would give permission to build new atomic plants. Last week, the newly elected governor of Yamiguchi refused to issue a license to build a new atomic power plant.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Which new plants in Japan are you referring to?

I don't believe I was referring to plants in Japan in that... oh wait... I get it you're being sarcastic. What a clever fellow you are.

No Zichi my statement would be in reference to the 42 reactors under construction in other parts of Asia mainly South Korea (9), India (7) and China (26). Seems these countries have decided that GEN III plants are the best answer to their swiftly expanding power needs. A quarter of a million children between the ages of 1 and 5 die in India every year from cooking smoke because they don't have electricity. The Indian gov't has decided to go with new nuclear technology now rather than wait on the possibility of solar and wind generated power, not to mention the even larger threat of global warming and the harm being done by burning fossil fuels to generate energy. Nuclear energy has zero carbon output. Let me ask you Zichi, if China and India's present power needs could be met by wind and solar why would they bother with nuclear?

Any serious discussion of future energy production in Japan needs to consider modern nuclear power generation. Whether this culture and can come to terms with the oversight and regulation involved remains to be seen. But like it's Asian neighbors, Japan will have some percentage nuclear power in it's overall future energy picture.

What do you know about GEN IV reactors Zichi? Did you know they can run on nuclear waste? Did you know they have passive safety features where the reactor will shut itself down in an emergency? Modern reactors can not run out of control like the one in Chernobyl because water has the dual role of coolant and moderator. My original comment was in reference to the statement that technology is not static. That includes nuclear technology.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Thomas AndersonSep. 03, 2012 - 10:47AM JST

In Japan renewable energy has already been doubling every 2 years even before Fukushima. In 2009 Japan had 2,627 MW of renewable electricity, in 2011 that nearly doubled to 4,914 MW.

By the end of 2012 we are expected to have more than 7,000 MW of renewable electricity. In 2 years that will double to 14 GW of electricity, and so on.

Any references to those figure Thomas?

2 ( +8 / -6 )

KobeKid

No Zichi my statement would be in reference to the 42 reactors under construction in other parts of Asia mainly South Korea (9), India (7) and China (26). 

The post and discussion is about the nuclear situation here in Japan, which is a country that experiences more than 20% of the world's most powerful earthquakes and 50% of the world's tsunami are generated in the Pacific.I believe that Japan is a country which should not have built any atomic plants, unless it was willing and able to build them with the highest of safety standards. I thought that's what had happened until the nuclear disaster revealed a very different situation.

Seems these countries have decided that GEN III plants are the best answer to their swiftly expanding power needs. A quarter of a million children between the ages of 1 and 5 die in India every year from cooking smoke because they don't have electricity. The Indian gov't has decided to go with new nuclear technology now rather than wait on the possibility of solar and wind generated power, not to mention the even larger threat of global warming and the harm being done by burning fossil fuels to generate energy. 

It will take a lot more than nuclear energy to sort out the major problems in India, like poverty. Even with nuclear energy does not mean that poor people will be able to afford it. One of the most serious problems is the failing and overloaded grid system. Recently, there were major power cuts, which was caused by the failing grid system but also because of the very large number of poor people who can't afford to buy power so they steal it instead. 30 to 40 years ago, people living in the Japanese countryside also did their cooking on open fires.

America, India and China are still generating 50% or more of it's power from coal and that's unlikely to change in the near future. In India and China "human life is cheap". I worry about countries like India building atomic plants because of the levels of corruption, safety corners will be cut if it saves money and generates more profit. America has not built a new reactor in years.

Nuclear energy has zero carbon output. Let me ask you Zichi, if China and India's present power needs could be met by wind and solar why would they bother with nuclear?

Both America and China are making very large investments in renewable energies, and both generate about 50,000MW compared with less than 5,000MW here in Japan. Hopefully, China is a much bigger country and they'll locate their atomic plants well away from any earthquake zones. While a nuclear reactor may emit low levels of greenhouse gases, you can't claim the nuclear energy industry is zero carbon. The building of the very large atomic plants requires millions of tons of many kinds of materials, steel, concrete, plastics, oil, coal. Uranium must be mined and transported.

If all gov't subsidies were stopped and the nuclear disaster liability increased from the current level of ¥120 billion to ¥1 trillion, which is still very small compared with the eventual cost of the nuclear disaster, how many Japanese power companies would still be willing to build new atomic plants?

Any serious discussion of future energy production in Japan needs to consider modern nuclear power generation. Whether this culture and can come to terms with the oversight and regulation involved remains to be seen. But like it's Asian neighbors, Japan will have some percentage nuclear power in it's overall future energy picture.

I really don't know what will happen with the future of nuclear energy in this country, whether it will be zero or something like 15%, and since the current gov't is starting to say zero by 2030, but even if it starts down that road, some future gov't could reverse that.

But the image of nuclear energy has been very badly damaged so I doubt there are many prefectures willing to give permission for new atomic plants.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Zichi

If all gov't subsidies were stopped and the nuclear disaster liability increased from the current level of ¥120 billion to ¥1 trillion, which is still very small compared with the eventual cost of the nuclear disaster, how many Japanese power companies would still be willing to build new atomic plants?

If all government subsidies were stopped for fossil fuels, and the disaster liability was increased from the current level of zero to their percentage of the 24 trillion per year cost of climate change, how many power companies would be willing to build fossil fuel plants? Ref: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/annual-cost-of-climate-change-will-be-163190bn-1778391.html

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Star-Viking,

If all government subsidies were stopped for fossil fuels, and the disaster liability was increased from the current level of zero to their percentage of the 24 trillion per year cost of climate change, how many power companies would be willing to build fossil fuel plants?

What gov't subsidies does fossil fuel receive and were does the cost of ¥24 trillion per year come from? For decades, renewable energy received very little in the way of subsidies until the FIT's were introduced in July.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Zichi, the cost comes from the article I linked to, converted to Japanese Yen.

Subsidies are widespread in China, India and other countries. Reference: http://www.earthtrack.net/files/uploaded_files/OCI.ET_.G20FF.FINAL_.pdf

As fot the FIT's - a subsidy is a subsidy.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Star-Viking

the post and discussion is about zero nuclear energy here were there are no gov't subsidies for fossil fuels and the cost to the country for the cost climate change won't be the ¥24 trillion yen per year has quoted by you. You seem determined to divert the discussion away from the situation here in Japan?

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Zichi,

Japan in 2008 emitted 4% of the world's greenhouse gasses, so we're talking about a fair percentage of almost 1 trillion yen per year.

You seem determined to ignore any facts that divert the focus from nuclear energy.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Star-Viking

Japan in 2008 emitted 4% of the world's greenhouse gasses, so we're talking about a fair percentage of almost 1 trillion yen per year.

¥1 trillion is very different than the ¥24 trillion you first quoted. Fossil fuel power plants are not the only source of CO2 and greenhouse gases.

Each of the top 10 prefectures has steelmaking plants and chemical complexes. For example, Chiba Prefecture is the home of two blast furnace steel plants and Ichihara City with a chemical complex, while Aichi Prefecture has a steel plant in Tokai City.

http://www.kikonet.org/english/publication/archive/japansGHGemission_E.pdf

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

American companies have stated they can supply all the gas the country needs and at a price $3-$5 lower than currently being paid. Nuclear power plants can only be built with massive subsidies and grants.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Regardless of what people assume is possible due to propaganda by politicians wishing to be re-elected, the simple matter is that is is entirely impossible from an engineering and financial stance. The ministry of finance has already released a preliminary report that the BEST case scenario for 0% option is a -7% growth rate, which would leave Japan with just 50% of it's GDP and almost ten times debt/GDP ratio which is almost financially impossible even with almost 100% internal debt. Japan will be bankrupted within 20 years with the 0% option. With 15%, we would see about 1% growth rate which is lower than most developed countries, and only with 25% option will they have a normal (for Japan) growth rate. Each percent of energy Japan must replace with fossil fuels is a minimum of 10 billion yen in financial losses, and if advanced systems are discussed it can be as much as 100 billion yen per percent (1%~10TWh, nuclear 5-8 yen/kWh, fossil fuels 9-15yen/kWh) in direct losses due to fuel costs, but as much as a hundred times that in secondary losses in everything from decreased spending to increased healthcare costs. For "non-polluting" alternatives it is less of an increase in healthcare costs but far higher direct and secondary losses in total.

From an engineering standpoint, it becomes even more counter-intuitive, as the supposedly green energies are far more polluting and actually take in more power than they produce in a year. The fossil fuel plants are very dangerous from an engineering prospective, and not much cheaper to build TWh per TWh than nuclear. Every percent replaced with fossil fuels will at minimum kill as many people per year as Fukushima is expected to in 70 years. And that is just assuming that we are talking about LNG, which is the safest of the three main types, yet not the largest source of energy in post Fukushima Japan (currently oil leads the pack, followed by coal). Of course, the engineering aspect doesn't include loss of life or health due to decreased living conditions as a result of the negative growth rate, which could easily be far greater than anything else.

Many people tout solar, which has enjoyed a 50% tax reduction benefit for decades, on top of the now obsurdly high FIT rates that are several times more than break even price of solar (i.e. you make a huge profit rather than just enough profit to spur improvements). However, Japan simply cannot make the panels in-house in quantities needed, mainly due to a lack of resources not used for far more profitable purposes, and ironically enough, electricity in the form of three year's worth of production per panel (an average 100W panel needed about 100-200KWh worth of energy, so if you want to make 1GW worth of panels, it would be about 2TWh of energy). As mentioned earlier, the best case scenario for solar by 2030 is just 20GW nameplate capacity, which in the real world will supply just 16 GW peak, and only 16TWh annually. 16TWh represents just 1.6% of Japan's electrical needs of 2009, let alone it's need at 2030 which will likely be above 1200TWh if trends continue. So while solar can be a part of supply, it can never be substantial. Wind is similarly limited by engineering possible in the next half century (without some external finance and massive increase in CO2).

The lawmakers should be very cautious about 0% nonsense, as it will destroy the nation and it's people. They can discuss replacing reactors when there can be rational discussion as well as viable alternatives. Neither is possible in the immediate future, but perhaps in a decade or two people can sit and actually weigh their alternatives, assuming they haven't bankrupted the country by then.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Star-Viking

Japan in 2008 emitted 4% of the world's greenhouse gasses, so we're talking about a fair percentage of almost 1 trillion yen per year.

If the greenhouse gases are calculated per capita, Japan would much lower than 4th. It's impossible for a single country like Japan to resolve the problem unless the big three are also willing to get on board. America, India and China. All three refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

I don't think any gov't present or future will be able to turn back the nuclear energy clock to pre 3/11 nuclear disaster levels. Even if the country were to continue to use nuclear energy, I doubt it will be used for more than 20% of total power, leaving the other 80% to be genrated by other fuels and energies.

The political and social fallout from the nuclear disaster will last for decades.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

nuclear power will boost electricity rates and force companies to move production - and jobs - overseas

But some economists say a policy shift would spell opportunities for growth, both for companies now positioning themselves to profit from the change and the economy overall.

A majority of people are eager to get rid of nuclear power

Is this all about money? I do not think so. Listen to a majority of people of Japan. They are wiling to pay r more for utility while business sector is resisting for change.

A majority of Japanese want SAFETY first. There are always someone, in this case business, who refuse to change.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

According to the gov't research institute, the National Institute for Environment Studies said, Japan is able to cut greenhouse gas emissions as much as 25 percent by 2030 from levels in the 1990s even without nuclear generation if it expands renewable energy and power-saving measures.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-12/japan-able-to-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions-25-without-nuclear.html

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Great info, Zichi. I prefer reading Japan side topics than US side.There is a big difference between the two. Info on Japan side is more filled with facts.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

globalwatcherSep. 04, 2012 - 04:34AM JST

Is this all about money? I do not think so. Listen to a majority of people of Japan. They are wiling to pay r more for utility while business sector is resisting for change.

In the end, it is about money. Just look at the residential use hypocrites that attack TEPCO's price increases, they are NOT willing to pay more regardless of their anti-nuclear stance. Businesses from the get go have understood that there is much more harm in going the 0% option, as their businesses have already been hurt this year, and the lower living conditions become the worse health becomes, both resulting in excess deaths and higher costs to businesses that pay most of the taxes in Japan. Considering many businesses have to deal with much higher labor costs, taking away the energy advantage is the same as telling those businesses to pack up and go elsewhere.

A majority of Japanese want SAFETY first.

A vast majority of Japanese people also want all immigrants shipped off the country, to revert Japan to the 1970s, and Japan to go to war if needed for three sets of less than useful rocks. Not only are they not going to get it, but they must not if they wish to survive. They fail to understand that even with all the false information they receive, Fukushima will never kill more than 1000 people even in the highest estimates. When you compare that to just the production from Fukushima (878TWh), you end up with 1.14 deaths per TWh, which is far less than even LNG (4 deaths per TWh). Compared to total nuclear production of Japan, you have less than 0.17 deaths (including the previously mentioned 0.04deaths) per TWh. This is actually about the same as wind energy, lower than solar, and far lower than the fossil fuels that HAVE replaced nuclear. In fact, the 25% generation capacity that had to be replaced with fossil fuels will kill a minimum of 1000 per year (assuming all LNG, 250TWh replaced), and above 3000 deaths if you take into account the use of "clean coal" and oil. Clearly people aren't thinking about safety, because they simply don't understand what safety really is, and never stop to consider the safety factors of other energy systems.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html <very good read to get a rough estimate of the true costs of safety

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Wow, what an implied statement in the post above - so people must " not get what they want if they wish to survive " - I was under the foolish impression that Japan claims to be a democracy -ie. where elected governments are supposed to listen to the majority of public and incorporate the majority wishes into their policy making ( ie. the current overwhelming desire to reduce the N reliance to zero ). Apparently the nuclear proponents subscribe to the - " we know better than the sheep so we will just do what WE want anyway " dictatorial mentality. Well, we have seen the results of that thinking last March haven`t we? Anyhow, back to the discussion on the safety of N -reactors - who is to say the next disaster will be caused by natural calamity ? - what if some fanatical terrorist group were to successfully attack a nuclear plant for example - can any power company guarantee 100% safety under such scenario? I,d rather live in a country that has a buch of solar/ wind power plants than nuclear ones if such scenario were ever to eventuate.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

what if some fanatical terrorist group were to successfully attack a nuclear plant for example - can any power company guarantee 100% safety under such scenario?

There's no major security at any of the atomic plants. A small armed group of home grown terrorists, or otherwise could easily take over an atomic plant, turn off or destroy the reactor cooling systems, sit back and wait for another Fukushima within 24 hours.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

The gov't's of Osaka City and prefecture have demanded the central gov't shut down the 2 Oi reactors now that the summer peak power demand Jul-Aug is ending. They lodged a protest with the central gov't and KEPCO, the operator of the facility.

Unlikely to happen? They probably run until the 13 month mandatory shutdown sometime in autumn 2013.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

In the news this morning, the Finance Ministry discussed findings from reports of the major power companies including TEPCO and KEPCO, and projected that electricity costs would DOUBLE with the 0% option, to 36 trillion yen from the expected 16 trillion yen. That would represent a direct economic loss to the country of over 10% GDP. That is more than education and infrastructure spending combined.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Zichi

Star-Viking

"Japan in 2008 emitted 4% of the world's greenhouse gasses, so we're talking about a fair percentage of almost 1 trillion yen per year."

¥1 trillion is very different than the ¥24 trillion you first quoted. Fossil fuel power plants are not the only source of CO2 and greenhouse gases.

Yes it is different - it is 4% of ¥24 trillion, Japan's share of the climate change damage. I addressed the fact that fossil fuel power plants are not the only emitters with "a fair percentage" above.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

zichiSep. 04, 2012 - 12:34AM JST

American companies have stated they can supply all the gas the country needs and at a price $3-$5 lower than currently being paid. Nuclear power plants can only be built with massive subsidies and grants.

Tidal Plants, Hydro Plants, Solar Plants...etc. can only be built with massive subsidies and grants.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

zichiSep. 04, 2012 - 12:52AM JST

If the greenhouse gases are calculated per capita, Japan would much lower than 4th. It's impossible for a single country like Japan to resolve the problem unless the big three are also willing to get on board. America, India and China. All three refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

So? From a liability perspective Japan is responsible for Japan's emissions - per capita or not.

As for the top poluters per capita, in 2005 they were...

Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Luxembourg and Australia.

Let's not do anything until they change their policies eh?

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_greenhouse_gas_emissions_per_capita

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Star-Viking,

It was pointed out on another post that the industry which produces the greatest amount of CO2 was construction and not power generation. The single biggest company producing CO2 is Nippon Steel.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

zichiSep. 04, 2012 - 01:27AM JST

The political and social fallout from the nuclear disaster will last for decades.

The atmospheric, climatic, social, political, medical, economic fallout from the greenhouse gas disaster will last for millennia - at least.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Star-Viking,

The atmospheric, climatic, social, political, medical, economic fallout from the greenhouse gas disaster will last for millennia - at least.

and has I stated in another comment, Japan could reduce its CO2 by 25% by 2030 even without nuclear energy.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

"Tidal Plants, Hydro Plants, Solar Plants...etc. can only be built with massive subsidies and grants." Seriously?...and Nuclear plants weren't built with the help of subsidies , grants and bribes? At least with the " green energy " power plants the dangers to surrounding population in the event of another " accident " would be negligible as opposed to the nuclear ones. I sure would much prefer to be near a green power plant when another " unpredictable " accident happens,,and not a Nuclear one ( as I was to Dai ichi last March ). Btw, I would guess Star- viking and basroil that both of you gentlemen with such strong pro- nuclear opinions were a comfortable distance from Fukushima last March, correct?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Star-Viking

Nuclear power is so expensive compared with other forms of energy that it has become “really hard” to justify, according to the chief executive of General Electric, one of the world’s largest suppliers of atomic equipment.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/60189878-d982-11e1-8529-00144feab49a.html#axzz25VdZY82U

0 ( +4 / -4 )

marcelitoSep. 04, 2012 - 10:31PM JST

At least with the " green energy " power plants the dangers to surrounding population in the event of another " accident " would be negligible as opposed to the nuclear ones. I sure would much prefer to be near a green power plant when another " unpredictable " accident happens,,and not a Nuclear one ( as I was to Dai ichi last March ).

I would prefer to be near a nuclear plant rather than a hydro plant.

Btw, I would guess Star- viking and basroil that both of you gentlemen with such strong pro- nuclear opinions were a comfortable distance from Fukushima last March, correct?

That depends on what you define as a comfortable difference - I was about 100km north north west of Fukushima Dai-ichi. You?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

zichiSep. 04, 2012 - 10:29PM JST

and has I stated in another comment, Japan could reduce its CO2 by 25% by 2030 even without nuclear energy.

So it gives up nuclear energy, which until recently produced around 30% of Japan's electricity carbon-free, and still Japan can clip 25% off the 70-odd percent of carbon-produced electricity? Even if it is true - much better to get even lower in the carbon-stakes by combining nuclear and renewables.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

zichiSep. 04, 2012 - 10:58PM JST

Nuclear power is so expensive compared with other forms of energy that it has become “really hard” to justify, according to the chief executive of General Electric, one of the world’s largest suppliers of atomic equipment.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/60189878-d982-11e1-8529-00144feab49a.html#axzz25VdZY82U

And the energy sources providing the squeeze: Gas - fossil fuel & greenhouse gas emitter, Wind - has scalability and intermittency problems.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Star-Viking

And the energy sources providing the squeeze: Gas - fossil fuel & greenhouse gas emitter, Wind - has scalability and intermittency problems.

When someone important like the CEO of General Electric says what he did, you need to pay attention and not just dismiss in your usual fashion because power companies will listen to him and base their decisions on that.

Nuclear energy was never about providing clean energy but about making huge profits for power companies. If that changes, the power companies will move on to other fuels or energies.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Japan, for more than 4 decades pumped trillions of yen into nuclear energy but has failed to meet the promise of being safe, clean and cheap. It was only able to generate 30% of power with 54 reactors. 100% would need more than 150 reactors. France has only achieved 70%.

Unlike other countries it didn't make major investments in other energy sources. Canada produces 80% of its power from hydro. Denmark produces 25% from renewables.Germany is producing more than 25% from renewables. Even China is generating 50,000MW from wind turbines.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

and has I stated in another comment, Japan could reduce its CO2 by 25% by 2030 even without nuclear energy.

by 35% with nuclear (same article). But I do find it very interesting that you're highlighting the CO2 issue given that Japan has increased it's CO2 output for energy as a result of turning off the nuclear power plants and you not only support this but you promote it as the safe option.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Heda_Madness,

it's Star-Viking who always introduces the CO2 problem. For myself, the nuclear disaster has shown that the atomic plants in this country are not safe.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

but you promote fossil fuels which kill more globally than nuclear. Substantially more. You claim that nuclear was only about profit yet you clearly haven't researched the reasons behind nuclear power.

you can't say nuclear is dangerous and advocate fossil fuels as a safer alternative because it's not. never has been, never will be. Phasing out nuclear plants may be good thing but increasing fossil fuels and thereby killing thousands of more people every year till you get to a point where you can cover the shortfall is ridiculous.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Heda_Madness,

You claim that nuclear was only about profit yet you clearly haven't researched the reasons behind nuclear power.

Please stop the personal insults. The power companies turned to nuclear energy because it could earn them greater profits than using fossil fuels, and they also received massive subsidies to build their atomic plants. Unfortunately, they didn't build them with enough safety standards because if they had, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

It was America, with the help of the CIA which persuaded the Japanese gov't of the mid 1950's to go down the nuclear energy road.

but you promote fossil fuels which kill more globally than nuclear. Substantially more. 

Prior to the nuclear disaster, 70% of power was being generated by fossil fuels which was being used even before I came to live in this country 20 years ago. Did you protest about fossil fuel prior to the disaster? I have been an active environmentalist for more than 40 years, and have lived my life according to that. I lived "off the grid" for 10 years. I haven't owned a car for more than 30 years. I have lived my life with a much smaller carbon footprint than many.

Because I think Japanese is a location which shouldn't be using nuclear energy because of the level of powerful earthquakes and tsunami and located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, does not actually mean I am a promoter of fossil fuels. Out of all the countries in the world, only 30+ are using nuclear energy. America hasn't build a new plant in decades and still uses coal to generate 50% of its power. It's also one of the big producers of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Even France, with 70% nuclear power still needs fossil fuels for the other 30%.

I don't know at this moment that is the future of nuclear energy in this country, but clearly a very large number are opposed to it's use. The future of nuclear energy won't be decided by foreigners, like you and I. It will be decided by the Japanese people with the power of their vote. It won't be decided by this news forum.

You say, fossil fuels kill more than nuclear energy and you are correct. But Japan got lucky with the nuclear disaster because much of the released radiation was blown out to sea. The No4 spent fuel pool came very close to collapsing, and had it happened, it could have led to the entire evacuation of Tokyo for many decades. The radiation release would have been more than hundred fold.

I know several times you have mentioned the number of deaths from burning coal but they are averaged out world figures, which I believe would be higher in a country like China and lower in Japan. I have been unable to find any figure for Japan, the number of deaths which can be linked directly to fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are not only used by power companies but also by the likes of Nippon Steel, heavy chemical, and it's burnt everyday in cars and trucks.

More people in the world die of poverty, from having to use open fires for cooking, from diseases because of the lack of health care. 4 billion people will try to sleep tonight with empty stomachs. 

you can't say nuclear is dangerous and advocate fossil fuels as a safer alternative because it's not. never has been, never will be. Phasing out nuclear plants may be good thing but increasing fossil fuels and thereby killing thousands of more people every year till you get to a point where you can cover the shortfall is ridiculous.

I don't think on this forum, I have never said I thought nuclear energy was dangerous? I even say, I could accept the use of nuclear energy until alternative energies, like renewables were available. I did state many times that I thought the safety standards at the atomic plants were not good enough but I hadn't realised the extend of the problem until I read the extensive investigation and report by Dr Kenichi Ohmae, and again by the Diet Commission report.

It was shocking to discover just how unsafe the atomic plants are. So, no atomic plant should even be allowed to start again until those safety issues are resolved. Some plants, like the one in Hamaoka should be shut down.

One of the good points of the nuclear disaster has made the country and the people think a whole lot about energy. There will be now a much bigger investment and push for renewable energy, which would not have happened without the disaster, and the country would have gone on generating 70% power from fossil fuels.

I favor the use of gas over coal,because it produces less pollution and I believe the country could produce every year a million tons of biogas which could be used in gas fired generators and would give much less emissions.

Some of the power companies like KEPCO have said it will take longer than 5 years to update the safety standards at the atomic power plants. The biggest concern is the design failure of the containment vessels at the Fukushima plant, which didn't do what they were designed to do. How many other reactors are using the same design?

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Heda_Madness,

you say because I'm against the use of the current atomic plants makes me a promoter of fossil fuels. I could say, since you support the use of nuclear energy and the atomic plants with their lack of safety standards that you also support the use and abuse of the 80,000 nuclear gypsies the power companies use at their atomic plants. These nuclear gypsies make up 80% of the work force. They have no rights or benefits like health care, internal examinations for radiation exposure, sick pay, pensions, paid vacations. They receive no safety training. In my book, if they are good enough to be able to work at the atomic plants, they are also good enough to be employed directly by the power companies.

Because of the reactor shut downs many of the nuclear gypsies can't find work unless they go to the Fukushima plant, but because their exposure will be higher than at another atomic plant, they'll quickly use up the amount of radiation they can be exposed to. Probably after working for one year or two, they won't be able to work for a further 5 years.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

It wasn’t a personal insult it’s that you don’t seem to be aware that the first nuclear power station designed for the use of electric power started being built in 1953. 12 months after the great London smog claimed thousands of lives. There’s a bit of an obvious link there, and it doesn’t involve profits.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Zichi.

Simple question. How many people have died as a result of Fukushima (you can include your 100 people who died during the evacuation as well though I’m sure it could be argued that they were the weak and frail and would likely have died soon anyway). And then compare it to those that have died as a direct result of fossil fuels (statistical data is available).

0 ( +5 / -5 )

You’ve been an environmentalist for 40 years but advocate the use of fossil fuels.

Being anti-nuclear is not the same as being an environmentalist. If you truly were then as well as the direct health impacts of fossil fuels you would be aware of the environmental impact as well. Global Warming anyone?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Heda_Madness,

You are a user of power from fossil fuels and also a promoter of its use, unless prior to the closure of the reactors, you only used 30% of your power needs which was generated from nuclear energy, and not the other 70% which was generated by fossil fuels. Now you use zero power because it's almost 100% generated by fossil fuels? I expect not, and like the rest of us, are forced to buy into the system, unless you are willing to go off grid. Back in the late 1970's, I thought cars did  a lot of pollution and environmental destruction, so I stopped owning one and started using the public transport system. I greatly reduced by footprint but I would be a fool to think I wasn't burning oil in some way.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Heda_Madness Sep. 05, 2012 - 06:38AM JST. Simple question. How many people have died as a result of Fukushima (you can include your 100 people who died during the evacuation as well though I’m sure it could be argued that they were the weak and frail and would likely have died soon anyway). And then compare it to those that have died as a direct result of fossil fuels (statistical data is available).

Here is the problem. More than one-third of the children living near Fukushima plant have lumps or cysts, but this is not the same as cancer. J-goverment do not know that cause of this, but it might be the effects of radiation. This is an early test and we will only see the effects of radiation exposure afte five to ten years. It's well-known that radiation releases can have a particularly adverse effect on the human thyroid. Thyroid cells that absorb too much of this radioactive iodine may become cancerous.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yes my power comes from a number of sources. Am I happy about it? No, I'm not. Would I prefer to reduce the number of fossil fuels used for power - absolutely. But that doesn't change the fact that coal/oil/gas fired power stations kill more people than nuclear. And to have a stance that promotes them over nuclear is neither environmentally friendly nor factually correct.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

And it's well known that thyroid cancer is 100% treatable if caught at an early age.

Which DOES not downplay any risk to the children.

Also... none of the international data has suggested there will be any danger to those living in the area.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Heda_Madness,

It wasn’t a personal insult it’s that you don’t seem to be aware that the first nuclear power station designed for the use of electric power started being built in 1953. 12 months after the great London smog claimed thousands of lives. There’s a bit of an obvious link there, and it doesn’t involve profits.

London wasn't the only city with a smog problem, every major city had it, including my own birth city Liverpool. It was mostly because people were burning coal in their homes for heating, and sometimes for cooking, both my family did when I was a child. Once the coal burning was stopped and coke used instead, the smog went away, and once the coke was also stopped the air quality improved. Britain still went on using coal for power generation.

We are discussing the use of nuclear energy in other countries, at least I am not. The Japanese power companies realised that nuclear energy would give them greater profits than fossil fuels and would be able to claim the need for massive grants and subsidies to build the atomic power plants.

In Britain today, no new atomic power plants can be built with sudsidies.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

So just to confirm that the first nuclear power plant was built as a direct result of air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels is not relevant to your claim that nuclear power plants were built only for power companies to make profit. And at no point could it be seen that something that happens in a foreign country is relevant to your point.

And despite that, the fact that fossil fuels are more deadly than nuclear (statistical data available everywhere) is actually a fortunate benefit and not a reason why it was built. Human safety was never included in the thought process.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Heda_Madness,

Simple question. How many people have died as a result of Fukushima (you can include your 100 people who died during the evacuation as well though I’m sure it could be argued that they were the weak and frail and would likely have died soon anyway). And then compare it to those that have died as a direct result of fossil fuels (statistical data is available).

The "100 people who died because of the evacuation" are "not my people". So no one fortunately died from radiation exposure, at least not yet, but less than 10% of the 160,000 people evacuated have been measured for internal radiation. A very large part of Fukushima will be off limits for decades. Tens of thousands have lost everything they owned. The gov't have stated that even areas with lower levels of radiation, it will be at least another 2 years before any one can return to live inside the no-go zone. I am surprised to find your comment lacking in compassion, "it could be argued that they were the weak and frail and would likely have died soon anyway" tell that to the families who lost their loved ones.

Please, I would really like to know how many Japanese people die every year, which can be directly linked to fossil fuels and because they lived near a fossil fired power plant, and didn't die for some other reason, like smoking?  Averaged out world figures won't give an accurate picture.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

World figures don’t give an accurate reading? So presumably those same world figures that include the worst case scenario from Fukushima wouldn’t give an accurate reading.

But as you know, the wonderful thing about burning fossil fuels means that it doesn’t matter if you choose to live next to a power station or not, you can still be fatally effected by it. The proximity to the plant doesn’t matter.

And you don’t need to lecture me on how many people were effected in Fukushima. You forget that I’ve been there a dozen or so times and helped many of the displaced people.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Heda_Madness,

You’ve been an environmentalist for 40 years but advocate the use of fossil fuels. Being anti-nuclear is not the same as being an environmentalist. If you truly were then as well as the direct health impacts of fossil fuels you would be aware of the environmental impact as well. Global Warming anyone?

I have been an environmentalist since the mid 1960"s, probably even before you were born. I helped to produce some of the very first mags which highlighted many of the issues. I lived my life by trying to reduce my carbon footprint, living off the grid for 10 year, growing most of my food for more than 20 years, not owning a car for 33 years, not polluting the waste water system and rivers. Planted more than 5,000 trees in places which needed them. Greatly reduced the amount of greenhouse gases I produced. I would like to know something of your past and current efforts?

I would also like to know why you advocate the use of power from fossil fuels since you are probably buying all your power off the grid?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Hed_Madness,

And it's well known that thyroid cancer is 100% treatable if caught at an early age.

I guess with that lackof compassion, you are not a father?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Heda_Madness,

again, can I have the figures for the number of Japanese people who die every year whose deaths can be directly linked to the use of (1) fossil fuel burnt at power plants, (2) all fossil fuels. How many of those who died, could have also died for other reasons like smoking. Unlike say, something like asbestos, which can be directly linked to a death, deaths from radiation cancer and exposure to the burning of fossil fuels would be much more difficult. I don't say it don't happen but I would like to at least see some real figures about people in this country.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Heda_Madness

But as you know, the wonderful thing about burning fossil fuels means that it doesn’t matter if you choose to live next to a power station or not, you can still be fatally effected by it. The proximity to the plant doesn’t matter.

I see. So you are saying that even if Japan stopped burning all fossil fuels, people would continue to die because China is building one new coall fired plant every week and even though it's building nuclear power plants and generating 50,000MW from wind turbines, it will go on for many more decades burning coal in power stations which don't even try to collect any of the pollution created?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Heda_Madness,

I haven't made a single personal insult, but I have drawn conclusions. One that I've drawn is that you're happy for people to die in the name of power but not nuclear power. Otherwise you wouldn't be advocating an increase in use of gas based on health grounds.Not a personal insult.

But you have insulted me several times and continue with your claim that I think the atomic power plants are not safe enough to restart them without updating the safety which would take at least five years, make me more of a promoter of fossil fuels than you, when we both buy into the system. I most likely even use less fossil fuels than you do?

It would seem from your strawman argument, even though there would be a possibility of another nuclear disaster, you would be willing to restart the atomic plants without updating them. There is also the very serious problem of the next Nankin Trough earthquake, which actually could happen any day from now in?

You have mentioned nothing about your support for the use and abuse of the 80,000 nuclear gypsies used at the atomic power plants?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Readers, please stop bickering. Focus your comments on the story, not at each other.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Heda_Madness and zichi, please do not address each other any further on this thread, since neither of you is willing to be tolerant of opposing views.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The current power crisis wasn't created by the people.

It wasn't the people who shut down all the reactors in the country, eventually it was the law.

The manmade LEVEL 7 nuclear disaster wasn't created by the people.

The worse case PR nightmare for nuclear energy was created by the power companies and the lack of safety standards and proper supervision by over 4 decades of LDP gov't's.

Even if the country continues to use nuclear energy, how many of the prefectures would be willing to give permission for the building of new plants? The newly elected governor of the very conservative Yamaguchi prefecture last week refused to give his permission for a new plant.

Governors like the one in Niigata are refusing to give his permission to restart the TEPCO atomic plant.

The power companies and the gov't's had 4 decades to get it right, but failed the country and failed the people.

Couple with the fact, that the country survived the hot summer time peak power demand without a single day without a single blackout.

This makes many question the need for the future use of nuclear energy.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Heda_Madness,

power from fossil fuel was generated before the nuclear disaster. I don't understand how you would agree to restarting atomic plants which have been shown to be unsafe without a mention of word about the urgent need to update the safety at those plants. You have tunnel vision on the issues?

Moderator: You and Heda_Madness have been instructed not to address each other any further on this thread.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Heda_MadnessSep. 05, 2012 - 07:10AM JST

But as you know, the wonderful thing about burning fossil fuels means that it doesn’t matter if you choose to live next to a power station or not, you can still be fatally effected by it. The proximity to the plant doesn’t matter.

Proximity DOES matter even for fossil fuels, as particulates, mercury, dioxins, and other known, studied, and verified beyond a reasonable doubt cause cancer almost linearly to exposure (unlike radiation, which is NOT known to cause cancer at the low rates from the Fukushima incident). The part that the government and its fossil fuel lobbyists don't seem to care about is that these fossil fuel plants are located in residential areas and even large cities. The fallout from those plants affects much larger populations, so even if the same 0.15% cancer rate increase (or a tenth of it, though statistical analysis tells us it is ten times more) is present, we would have tens of thousands affected. Even greenpeace notes that between fossil fuels and nuclear, nuclear is the clear winner. And they are the ones that prevented the Fukushima spent fuel rods from being shipped to France and made everything much worse in the first place.

Japan can lean as much as they want to 0%, but the government must remember that that 0% represents a very steep and long fall. Hopefully the ropes of reason will pull them back from the false ideology pitfall.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Heda_MadnessSep. 05, 2012 - 06:53AM JST

And it's well known that thyroid cancer is 100% treatable if caught at an early age.

Not just children. Stage 1 thyroid cancer is pretty much curable for anyone not old enough to die from a cold. Stage 2 is likewise 99.9% curable, and Stage 3 is above 80%. Stage 4 is the only significantly dangerous stage, but by then it's not just thyroid cancer. Due to screening of at-risk individuals, we can assume that at most it's going to be Stage 2 cancer, and thus nearly 100% treatable.

Which DOES not downplay any risk to the children.

Also... none of the international data has suggested there will be any danger to those living in the area.

There are actually several dangers, but all of them unrelated to radiation. There's a fairly large risk of malnutrition and lack of exercise due to avoiding foods and going outside, bullying, stress from parents, etc. While the kids themselves are probably fine on their own, assuming they are told the dangers of certain things, the parents are likely to overreact and cause serious harm.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

zichiSep. 05, 2012 - 01:16AM JST

"And the energy sources providing the squeeze: Gas - fossil fuel & greenhouse gas emitter, Wind - has scalability and intermittency problems."

When someone important like the CEO of General Electric says what he did, you need to pay attention and not just dismiss in your usual fashion because power companies will listen to him and base their decisions on that.

I've my qualifications too - and they are more pertinent to the world of physics and engineering than management. The problems I stated cannot be wished away by an appeal to authority, in this case the CEO of GE.

Also, have you considered that as GE's Nuclear business is actually a joint venture with Hitatchi, their bottom line might have been hit because their sure-fire work in Japan has been hit badly?

Nuclear energy was never about providing clean energy but about making huge profits for power companies. If that changes, the power companies will move on to other fuels or energies.

Really? It's surprising that GE-Hitatchi are having problems with the power companies of the world eager for huge profits...

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

zichiSep. 05, 2012 - 08:41AM JST

The manmade LEVEL 7 nuclear disaster wasn't created by the people.

It was created by an unexpected earthquake and tsunami.

The worse case PR nightmare for nuclear energy was created by the power companies and the lack of safety standards and proper supervision by over 4 decades of LDP gov't's.

True.

The power companies and the gov't's had 4 decades to get it right, but failed the country and failed the people.

Please, don't forget the bureaucrats - the roots of all evil (so it seems) in Japan.

Couple with the fact, that the country survived the hot summer time peak power demand without a single day without a single blackout.

And if the overused fossil fuel plants in the Kansai area had been run without breaks for maintenance over the summer blackouts would have been likely.

And if we had faced a record summer, like 2010, or worse (which will come eventually) massive blackouts would have been likely.

This makes many question the need for the future use of nuclear energy.

And many people are misinformed by those who produce their own facts and do not consider possible problems with the policies they promote, and a media willing, as in the old days, to blindly accept opinion from 'experts' without question.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

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