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Can Japanese industries survive without nuclear power in the foreseeable future?

23 Comments
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In the short term, probably not. But that's mainly because current government and industry leaders (same people?) have been unwilling to more fully implement programs designed to conserve energy and find alternatives, other than burning fossil fuels (which in order to stay on topic I won't assail), to nuclear power.

Given the results of the most recent election where the same-old, same-old powers were kept in place, and given how apathetic most young and middle-aged Japanese seem to be, in the long term also probably not.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Well, they survived OK while all the nuclear plants in the country were shut down for a few years after 3/11 so......

Actually this isn't really a useful question to ask.  Industry needs energy but it doesn't really matter to industry what source produces it so long as it is price competitive.  The real question is whether or not reliance on nuclear makes sense for Japan as a whole since its the government (and ultimately the taxpayers) that is underwriting a lot of the costs of nuclear.  Japan has a "sunk cost" problem in that it has invested so much in its nuclear infrastructure that it is difficult to just walk away from it since doing so means making trillions of Yen worth of stuff worthless, which will impost a cost on the country as a whole (rather than any specific industry except, of course, the nuclear one itself). Getting rid of nuclear probably makes more sense in the long run since the costs of subsidizing it over time I think will outweigh the short term losses of closing it down, but either way it doesn't really matter what other industries think since that isn't an issue: so long as they get energy they don't care where it comes from.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

No. But no worries, because all those who protest against it have fail-safe plans to fill in the gaps.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Yes, of course. Wind/solar/wave energy/geothermal power is all there for the taking and building upon.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

rainy day

"Getting rid of nuclear probably makes more sense in the long run since the costs of subsidizing it over time I think will outweigh the short term losses of closing it down, but either way it doesn't really matter what other industries think since that isn't an issue: so long as they get energy they don't care where it comes from."

Maybe from a financial standpoint, but from an environmental perspective, it is important to keep nuclear stations producing power because they don't release carbon into the atmosphere.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@2020hindsights

I do not know if you have noticed, but instead of releasing carbon into the atmosphere, they release radioactivity.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Maybe from a financial standpoint, but from an environmental perspective, it is important to keep nuclear stations producing power because they don't release carbon into the atmosphere.

If the choice is between nuclear and coal then yeah the environmental benefits of nuclear make some sense. If the choice is between nuclear and renewables though there is no environmental argument in favor of nuclear that makes any sense.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Wrong question. Can Japan generate enough power from non-nuclear sources to allow its nuclear power plants to go into cold shutdown? No. They are permanent, until they fail.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

doing nothing works 100% of the time. Doing something, actually does something. True story

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Nuclear/coal can be replaced by LNG but since the price of coal have fallen against the price of LNG with power companies tied into long term contracts now want to use more coal.

The power generation of the base load, that is the electricity needed 24/7 can not be generated by all all types of renewable energy. The supply must be 24/7 which can be generated by hydro but the country is maxed on that. Geothermal is the only other renewable source which is underused.

Hydro and full use of geothermal could generate 50% of the base load and LNG the other 50%. Base load is about 25GW out of a total demand of 200GW.

Generating the other 150GW of power can be achieved with LNG and renewables.

No need for nuclear or coal.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Scotland produces double their needed supply and Spain, on certain days 100%

Plenty of scope to put solar panels all over the place , especially on empty roofs but the Japanese don’t.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Yes, but solar can not generate electricity overnight when there is no sun and there are no available ways to store the power except by batteries which won't work for base load power.

Wind is not 24/7.

What power or energy is available 24/7 and can generate 25GW of electricity or about 250TWh.

The only two are hydro and geothermal. Total in Japan if fully used could only generate 50% of the base load.

If the hydrogen problems are overcome that would be a possibility. Biomass.

Base load power is the minimum amount of needed generated electricity 24/7.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Rena Matsui: "No. But no worries, because all those who protest against it have fail-safe plans to fill in the gaps."

Once again, utter nonsense. If Japan cannot survive without nuclear power, it is because they have bet their entire hand on ONLY nuclear power, when Japan has HUGE potential for alternative energy sources, especially geo-thermal.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Hello Kitty

@2020hindsights

I do not know if you have noticed, but instead of releasing carbon into the atmosphere, they release radioactivity.

No they do not. Nuclear plants do not release reactive material into the atmosphere. If you think that, you have no understanding of nuclear power stations.

rainyday

If the choice is between nuclear and renewables though there is no environmental argument in favor of nuclear that makes any sense

Well no, you haven't thought it through. For a start, hydro has a huge environmental impact on rivers and geothermal is a finite resource. Wind and solar need storage for when it isn't sunny or windy. And the bottom line is that at this very moment, these nuclear plants already exist. To get Japan to a stage that they have enough renewable capacity will take decades. Meanwhile, Japan is burning gas and pumping CO2 into the atmosphere.

zichi

Nuclear/coal can be replaced by LNG but since the price of coal have fallen against the price of LNG with power companies tied into long term contracts now want to use more coal.

The problem with LNG is that it puts CO2 into the atmosphere. Better to stick with nuclear.

smithinjapan

Once again, utter nonsense. If Japan cannot survive without nuclear power, it is because they have bet their entire hand on ONLY nuclear power, when Japan has HUGE potential for alternative energy sources, especially geo-thermal.

Yes, but geothermal is finite.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Well no, you haven't thought it through. For a start, hydro has a huge environmental impact on rivers and geothermal is a finite resource. Wind and solar need storage for when it isn't sunny or windy. And the bottom line is that at this very moment, these nuclear plants already exist. To get Japan to a stage that they have enough renewable capacity will take decades. Meanwhile, Japan is burning gas and pumping CO2 into the atmosphere.

No, I have thought it through. I'm not in favor of immediately shutting down all nuclear plants because yeah, you are correct that there is an environmental benefit to using infrastructure like that which already exists compared to building new things.

But as these plants age, they are going to reach the end of their operational lives (as many are nearing or even surpassing in some cases now) and decisions will have to be made about whether to construct new nuclear plants to replace them or to invest in other energy sources. I'm quite certain that putting energy related investments into new nuclear capacity to replace retiring ones is going to be throwing money away, and not an efficient way of achieving CO2 reductions either. The cost of renewables are plummeting and will likely keep getting cheaper and more efficient in the future. Nuclear owing to its nature has hard limits on how cheaply it can be made, especially if we have to factor in unknown risk associated costs like those incurred as a result of Fukushima, and likely it will be uncompetitive. But investments in a nuclear reactor basically locks you into about 40 years of maintaining and getting power from a reactor, which is going to look like a horrible investment in the future.

So yeah, renewable capacity isn't enough to jump in and replace all the nuclear plants that exist now, but the best policy to me seems a gradual replacement of coal and nuclear with renewables over the coming decades.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

More than 20 of the reactor fleet have failed the NRA regulations so the power companies have applied or will apply for licenses for decommissioning them. Once the safety upgrades are complete and pass the NRA inspections and obtain agreements to operate then again there could be 15-20 reactors operating producing about 15% of total power which is less than was is needed to generate the base load power so even with nuclear other fuels and energies should still need to be used.

The country is already at hydro capacity but the use of geothermal could be increased since only 3% of capacity is used.

The CO2 can be collected and converted into other products as some companies are now doing.

Even nuclear isn't totally carbon free or free of greenhouse gases. Uranium is mined in Australia and send to Japan who sents it to France to be converted into fuel rods and sents them back to Japan for use in the reactors.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

isn't solar power would be the best and safest way instead of this stupid nuclear power which is harming the people and the environment in Japan and around the world ?

people can't understand that there's so many way of getting power than to get them from nuclear power they never learn from what happen in Fukushima how sad and now this nuclear power is spreading around the world in every country which is worst than anything.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Nobnaga

people can't understand that there's so many way of getting power than to get them from nuclear power they never learn from what happen in Fukushima how sad and now this nuclear power is spreading around the world in every country which is worst than anything.

Nuclear power isn't worse than anything. The safety of nuclear power is actually very high. Fukushima was an extremely rare event that had low casualties. The advantages of nuclear power is that is doesn't add CO2 to the environment. Look at France, it gets 70% of its power from nuclear which is clean, non-CO2 producing, energy.

Solar power could actually be more fatal than nuclear power:

https://asiancorrespondent.com/2011/05/green-deaths-the-forgotten-dangers-of-solar-panels/

However, I'm not saying that we shouldn't invest in solar energy; we very much should. It's just that we shouldn't be irrational about the almost non-existent dangers of nuclear power.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Nuclear power isn't worse than anything. The safety of nuclear power is actually very high. Fukushima was an extremely rare event that had low casualties. The advantages of nuclear power is that is doesn't add CO2 to the environment. Look at France, it gets 70% of its power from nuclear which is clean, non-CO2 producing, energy.

This is misleading. While there were no direct deaths from radiation, there have been over 1300 deaths attributed specifically to the nuclear disaster, most of them attributable either to the effects of the extended evacuation or the dangerous working conditions faced by clean up workers. This was a deadly disaster that has caused massive, large scale human suffering.

Also the financial cost of the disaster is immense beyond imagination. Total costs (cleanup, decommissioning and compensation to victims) are estimated at being between 22 trillion Yen (government estimate) and 70 trillion Yen (outside estimate). Even the lower end estimate is equivalent to about 10% of Japan's annual GDP - ie the value of the entire national economy - just to clean up a single accident at a single nuclear reactor.

While such accidents are rare, the costs they impose are staggering and dwarf the cumulative costs of accidents in every other energy source combined.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Look at France, it gets 70% of its power from nuclear which is clean, non-CO2 producing, energy.

France does not experience the number of powerful earthquakes like Japan nor does it have has many active volcanoes or on the Pacific Ring of Fire. When was the last time France was hit by a 40 meter tsunami. Japanese nuclear plants are all located on the coasts.

The power companies/NRA have decided 20 reactors are unable to meet the new regulations without investing billions of yen but they consider it is not a worthwhile investment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Scotland produces double their needed supply

So why does it have two nuclear power stations?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For sure not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So why does it have two nuclear power stations?

Because Britain has a nuclear policy dating back to the early postwar years.

The Scottish parliament is strongly opposed to any new nuclear power installations (2/3 against), but these two stations began operation well before the Scottish parliament even existed, in 1976 and 1988 respectively.

In addition, in spite of Scottish devolution, there are a multitude of "reserved matters", those which may be decided only by the British Parliament in London. Nuclear energy is one of them.

Of the two stations, one of them, Hunterston B, has taken both reactors offline (March and October 2018) due to safety concerns. They're supposed to be due to restart this summer, but that's already been delayed a couple of times. In any case, the plant will not operate beyond 2023 - a further extension of operation (it's already had two) is highly unlikely, as the current safety issue is exactly the type that indicates these reactors have reached the end of their life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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