Saturday, September 14, 2013

Japan: No Nukes ???

Japan:Japan to switch off nuclear power, may be some time before it's on again

Photo
7:17pm EDT
By Osamu Tsukimori
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is set to be nuclear power-free, for just the third time in more than four decades, and with no firm date for re-starting an energy source that has provided about 30 percent of electricity to the world's third-largest economy.
Kansai Electric Power Co's 1,180 MW Ohi No.4 reactor is scheduled to be disconnected from the power grid late on Sunday and then shut for planned maintenance. It is the only one of Japan's 50 reactors in operation after the nuclear industry came to a virtual halt following the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Japan last went without nuclear power in May-June 2012 - the first shutdown since 1970 - a year after a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks at the Fukushima facility. The country's nuclear reactors provided close to a third of the electricity to keep the $5 trillion economy going before the Fukushima disaster, and utilities have had to spend billions of dollars importing oil, gas and coal to make up for the shortfall.
In 2011, Japan suffered its first trade deficit in more than three decades, and in July of this year it logged its third-biggest trade deficit on record, at 1.02 trillion yen ($10.5 billion), as a weak yen and rising oil prices made energy imports more expensive.
Several nuclear operators applied in July to re-start reactors under new rules drawn up following the Fukushima disaster, but approvals are likely to be tough to get as the industry regulator strives to show a skeptical public it is serious about safety.
Industry projections for a re-start vary from as early as December to mid-2014. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the utilities are keen to get reactors up and running again, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe singling out reducing soaring fuel costs as a key plank of his economic reform plans.
But opinion polls show a majority of Japanese want to end reliance on atomic power, and oppose re-starts.
"The argument that no nuclear power dents the economy would be myopic, considering that if by mistake we had another tragedy like Fukushima, Japan would suffer from further collateral damage and lose global trust," said Tetsunari Iida, head of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, and a renewable energy expert.
"In the new economy, the less you use energy, the more value-added you become. The big chorus for nuclear power is hampering the efforts to move to a new, more open economy."
IMPORT BILL
Japan consumes about a third of the world's liquefied natural gas (LNG) production, and will likely boost LNG demand to record levels over the next couple of years. LNG imports rose 4.4 percent in volume to a record 86.87 million tonnes, and 14.9 percent in value to a record 6.21 trillion yen ($62.1 billion) in the year through March.
Imports are likely to rise to around 88 million tonnes this year and around 90 million tonnes in the year to March 2015, according to projections by the Institute of Energy Economics Japan based on a mid-scenario that 16 reactors will be back on-line by March 2015.
Thirty months on from the Fukushima disaster, such is the level of public concern about nuclear safety that the government is struggling to come up with a long-term energy policy - a delay that is having a profound impact on the economy and underlining just how costly a nuclear-power-free future may be.
People in the industry reckon Shikoku Electric Power's Ikata plant, Kyushu Electric's Sendai plant and Hokkaido Electric's Tomari plant are among those likely to be the first to re-start.
"There's talk the Abe administration is putting heavy pressure on the regulator (to re-start reactors)," said Osamu Fujisawa, a Japan-based independent oil economist.
"It's obviously the economy the administration is after (rather than safety). Otherwise, the business community will look away, dealing an end to the Abe administration."
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I hope that Japan never restarts the nuclear power plants and that Westchester shuts down Indian Point.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Issues like this are always hard to call. This is a perfect example of what you stated in class about how you cannot be a true environmentalist and care equally about the economy.
I think that instead of investing (so much) of their money into importing products and trying to fix these disasters the nuclear plants have caused, they should put that money towards more eco-friendly ways of getting power.
Japan is a vast country and hydro, solar, geothermal etc. energy are all available.

The greatest question here is what weighs more heavily. The present or the future?

-Megan Spaulding

Annamaria Watson said...

Sadly, this has been the history of nuclear energy in many countries. Nuclear energy is simply too dangerous and unpopular to sustain in the long-term.

The Japanese government is going to eventually have to accept three facts:

1. Nuclear energy is too dangerous and too unpopular to be 30% of Japan's energy source, and must be gradually phased out over time.

2. There will be heavy up-front costs as a result of this transition

3. New, sustainable technologies will have to be financed and developed

It is impossible to quit nuclear power cold turkey in Japan, it will have to be gradually phased out. This phasing out will be costly as the government will have to pay for other energy sources in the mean time which are unsustainable and expensive. Thus, new technologies will have to be researched, financed, and implemented to take the place of nuclear power.

Cynthia Romero said...

Nuclear energy is extremely dangerous and it is hard to understand why it is being used until you hear about the economic side. Hopefully Japan is able to slowly but surely reduce the nuclear energy use. Due to their history, I'm afraid it will only be a short period of time before they are back to it. Will this process be expensive? Absolutely. However, I find it necessary and cost effective in the long run because the damage from the nuclear plants end up being very high cost.

Leah DeEgidio said...

This article is refreshing to read because I thought I would never hear Japan say that they are trying to make movements toward a non-nuclear energy dependence. Nuclear energy is dangerous and unfortunately it pays off economically. While it is important to think about the economic factors involved, the future of the country is at stake, and this nuclear energy needs to be phased out. It is up to the government to approach alternatives that will be safe for the people as well as the economy. These alternatives exist and if some nations have made these efforts to better themselves, as well as the world, so can Japan.

Remy Gallo said...

Japan, like most countries, will inevitably start to use a cleaner energy source with the global push to be more environmentally friendly. And although we would rather it sooner then later, they rely on nuclear energy to much to cut off fully. However, renewable energy expert Tetsunari Lida made the most crucial point in saying, "the argument that no nuclear power dents the economy would be myopic, considering that if by mistake we had another tragedy like Fukushima, Japan would suffer from further collateral damage and lose global trust." This means that if Japan wants to remain the world's third largest economy they better start finding new ways of creating energy fast. If another disaster like Fukushima happened, they would lose more money from loss of export sales and tourism then they would from switching to a sustainable energy source now.

Chris Olsen said...

The fact that nuclear power is so unstable and dangerous its a good thing not to have it. I think its good that they have decided to stop. With events like Chernobyl occurring throughout the world its reason enough to not have it until it can be refined and safer. Although 30% of Japan's energy source is nuclear making it difficult to stop right away I think the time and cost of switching will be worth it for the safety of the country.

Mary O'Sullivan said...

Yes, nuclear energy is very ustable and dangerous. Environmentally, shutting down nuclear reactors is great, but Japan's economy will take a large hit. It is very difficult to predict whether or not they will be able to stay with this new policy. There will be much political push to restart the nuclear reactors in order to cut costs. Hopefully they societies resolve for safety will overcome this.

Kira Knight said...

Getting rid of the nuclear energy supply in Japan is very good for the environment. However, the economy and people of Japan would eventually suffer from such a big change if they don't have an alternate plan. If the sustainability of our environment is really the focus here, then there is no doubt in my mind that removing nuclear energy and finding a more "green" way to get energy instead is the way to go.

Michael Bronn said...

Nuclear energy is extremely dangerous as history can prove, and it seems like it is not a matter of if, it is more like a matter of when there is going to be another nuclear incident. There are some things that are just unavoidable when dealing with power as dangerous as that, something is just bound to go wrong. In the mean time people should be trying to create new means of energy that is safer for the environment in the case of pollution, and in the case of control over that energy. Sure it will cost a lot of money for alternative means of energy, but if we want this world to survive it is a must.

Kurnool Krishna said...

Nuclear energy is unique among man's potential future sources of energy-
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Christie Homberg said...

After reading the post, it seems like Japan is in a tough spot. After years of relying on nuclear energy as well as investing significant amounts of money into building handfuls these power plants throughout the country, Japan is now faced with its first trade deficit in decades. Since the 2011 nuclear disaster, public concern has also resulted in an increase in public concern. As a result, many plants are unable to reopen and provide energy due to lingering skepticism. I think that what Japan is going through now is the push it needed to start seriously thinking about finding an alternate, clean source of energy. Although it is struggling without nuclear energy now, once they embrace an alternate resource, such as solar power, it will be beneficial to both the economy and the environment in the long run.

Christie Homberg said...

After reading the post, it seems like Japan is in a tough spot. After years of relying on nuclear energy as well as investing significant amounts of money into building handfuls these power plants throughout the country, Japan is now faced with its first trade deficit in decades. Since the 2011 nuclear disaster, public concern has also resulted in an increase in public concern. As a result, many plants are unable to reopen and provide energy due to lingering skepticism. I think that what Japan is going through now is the push it needed to start seriously thinking about finding an alternate, clean source of energy. Although it is struggling without nuclear energy now, once they embrace an alternate resource, such as solar power, it will be beneficial to both the economy and the environment in the long run.

Dana Colavito said...

This article states that when Japan suffered from natural disasters, the power plants collapsed causing more damage. Author, Osamu Tsukimori explains, "...a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks at the Fukushima facility."For this reason I believe that Japan should stop using nuclear energy for the safety of the people and the environment.

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