As Japan shuts down nuclear power, emissions rise

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John_Browning
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05 May 2012, 4:43 pm

http://news.yahoo.com/japan-shuts-down-nuclear-power-emissions-rise-064616407--finance.html

TOKYO (AP) — The Fukushima crisis is eroding years of Japanese efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming, as power plants running on oil and natural gas fill the electricity gap left by now-shuttered nuclear reactors.

Before last year's devastating tsunami triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, Japan had planned to meet its carbon emissions reduction targets on the assumption that it would rely on nuclear power, long considered a steady, low-emissions source of energy.

But now it's unclear to what extent nuclear energy will even be part of the electricity mix.

Japan will be free of atomic power for the first time since 1966 on Saturday, when the last of its 50 usable reactors is switched off for regular inspections. The central government would like to restart them at some point, but it is running into strong opposition from local citizens and governments.

With the loss of nuclear energy, the Ministry of Environment projects that Japan will produce about 15 percent more greenhouse gas emissions this fiscal year than it did in 1990, the baseline year for measuring progress in reducing emissions. In fiscal 2010, Japan's actual emissions were close to 1990 levels. It also raises doubts about whether it will be able to meet a pledge made in Copenhagen in 2009 to slash emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

For years, nuclear power was a pillar in Japan's energy and climate policies. Until the Fukushima disaster last year, it accounted for about a third of Japan's power generation, and Tokyo had planned to expand that to half by 2030.

[edit: truncated by moderator for copyright reasons]


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05 May 2012, 10:45 pm

It is so funny that America and other Countries would blame Japan for that when Global Warming has been happening befor that ever happened.



CrazyCatLord
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06 May 2012, 12:45 am

John_Browning wrote:
If Japan can put its collective mind to expand renewable energy, it too can achieve similar levels as Germany, said Sei Kato, deputy director at Environment Ministry's Low Carbon Society Promotion Office.

"We have the technological know-how. Japan can do anything Germany can," Kato said.


Alas, there is very little that Germany can do. "Let's get out of nuclear energy" was mostly political populism -- look at us conservatives, we can be "green" too! -- without any real strategy behind it. Short of covering every roof with solar panels, we've pretty much maxed out our renewable energy potential. And yet wind, water and solar energy only account for 12% of our demand. Private solar power installations won't do much to change that. Solar panel distributors like to advertise with big numbers, such as "solar energy can supply 60% of your water heating energy", but they fail to mention that water heating only accounts for 5-10% of the total household energy needs. Which are constantly rising due to the increasing number of household electronics.

Our nuclear power plants are among the safest in the world. We went to great lengths to render them earthquake-proof and able to withstand a plane crash (or a terrorist attack, for that matter). That should be the answer to Fukushima imho, and we took these measures long before Fukushima. It's utter madness to take our safe reactors off the grid in a time where people switch to electric cars and hybrids, as well as electric heating. I mean, we've already been importing energy from France, Russia and the Czech Republic. During the last winter, we also had to buy energy from Austria. The increasingly popular electric heating solutions cause drastic and unforeseen spikes in peak energy demand that our local providers aren't prepared for.

So if anything, we should be building additional reactors. If we don't do it, our neighbors will have to do it for us. For every secure German reactor that we dismantle, a cheaper, less secure reactor will be built elsewhere in Europe. I don't think that "let the meltdowns happen somewhere else" is the right approach. Not only would we probably get our fair share of the fallout, there is also a chance that a greater percentage of our future energy supply will be produced by coal- and gas-fired power stations in our energy-exporting neighbor countries. Bottom line: Renewable energy is all nice and well, but the Japanese should also use their know-how to render their existing reactors more secure instead of trying to replace them. The world energy demand is expected to double by 2050, so even if renewable energy could supply 100% of our current demand, it would be no permanent solution.



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06 May 2012, 1:10 am

Yup. if you don't want to rely on the oxidization of hydrocarbon chains for your energy, we're gonna need a lot more nukes. If you don't like the nukes, you can have less nukes if you have a lot of wind power, PV, etc - but basically we need a whole new energy source.

So we better make better nuclear reactors than they did 40 years ago.



Obres
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06 May 2012, 1:18 am

CrazyCatLord wrote:
John_Browning wrote:
If Japan can put its collective mind to expand renewable energy, it too can achieve similar levels as Germany, said Sei Kato, deputy director at Environment Ministry's Low Carbon Society Promotion Office.

"We have the technological know-how. Japan can do anything Germany can," Kato said.


Alas, there is very little that Germany can do. "Let's get out of nuclear energy" was mostly political populism -- look at us conservatives, we can be "green" too! -- without any real strategy behind it. Short of covering every roof with solar panels, we've pretty much maxed out our renewable energy potential. And yet wind, water and solar energy only account for 12% of our demand. Private solar power installations won't do much to change that. Solar panel distributors like to advertise with big numbers, such as "solar energy can supply 60% of your water heating energy", but they fail to mention that water heating only accounts for 5-10% of the total household energy needs. Which are constantly rising due to the increasing number of household electronics.

Our nuclear power plants are among the safest in the world. We went to great lengths to render them earthquake-proof and able to withstand a plane crash (or a terrorist attack, for that matter). That should be the answer to Fukushima imho, and we took these measures long before Fukushima. It's utter madness to take our safe reactors off the grid in a time where people switch to electric cars and hybrids, as well as electric heating. I mean, we've already been importing energy from France, Russia and the Czech Republic. During the last winter, we also had to buy energy from Austria. The increasingly popular electric heating solutions cause drastic and unforeseen spikes in peak energy demand that our local providers aren't prepared for.

So if anything, we should be building additional reactors. If we don't do it, our neighbors will have to do it for us. For every secure German reactor that we dismantle, a cheaper, less secure reactor will be built elsewhere in Europe. I don't think that "let the meltdowns happen somewhere else" is the right approach. Not only would we probably get our fair share of the fallout, there is also a chance that a greater percentage of our future energy supply will be produced by coal- and gas-fired power stations in our energy-exporting neighbor countries. Bottom line: Renewable energy is all nice and well, but the Japanese should also use their know-how to render their existing reactors more secure instead of trying to replace them. The world energy demand is expected to double by 2050, so even if renewable energy could supply 100% of our current demand, it would be no permanent solution.


Solar power sucks because we haven't advanced the technology sufficiently, and nobody wants to put serious money into developing it because it sucks. And then every once in a while you'll have a "Solyndra" come along trying to turn it into big business when the technology's underdeveloped and thus at a disadvantage against its competitors, and then everyone will take the situation completely out of context to claim that solar power will never work. If you look at the raw potential, solar is obviously the way of the future, but nobody wants to be the one to foot the bill to get it there.



blauSamstag
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06 May 2012, 1:40 am

Obres wrote:
Solar power sucks because we haven't advanced the technology sufficiently, and nobody wants to put serious money into developing it because it sucks. And then every once in a while you'll have a "Solyndra" come along trying to turn it into big business when the technology's underdeveloped and thus at a disadvantage against its competitors, and then everyone will take the situation completely out of context to claim that solar power will never work. If you look at the raw potential, solar is obviously the way of the future, but nobody wants to be the one to foot the bill to get it there.


Solyndra's technology was questionable at best. All they did was glue a bunch of lenses to thin-film PV arrays. They got slightly better off-angle performance in return for lower peak performance. It was expensive and poorly conceived.

Frankly, Solyndra seems to have been yet another example of a company that existed solely so that the executives could draw salary from it. The subset of that set of businesses that milks the government for money.

Most of those businesses are conceived of as a venture that will fail before anyone has a dream of getting back their investment capital or money loaned.

I myself work for a company that appears to have started as a scheme for one man and his wife to milk the government for a high salary that, despite their best efforts, did not fail.

It's not a new concept. Making a slim profit is much worse for the executives than merely overpaying themselves while running the whole thing into the ground and walking away.

You can bring in all the investment you want, and if you fail, it was just a bad investment -- not outright theft.

I don't believe that even a 100% efficient photovoltaic system is the answer.



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06 May 2012, 1:48 am

Is that news? Because that I thought it was obvious already a year ago.

Obviously, there is another solution : massive reduction of energy consumption. Anyone up to it? *crickets*



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06 May 2012, 1:58 am

Obres wrote:
Solar power sucks because we haven't advanced the technology sufficiently, and nobody wants to put serious money into developing it because it sucks. And then every once in a while you'll have a "Solyndra" come along trying to turn it into big business when the technology's underdeveloped and thus at a disadvantage against its competitors, and then everyone will take the situation completely out of context to claim that solar power will never work. If you look at the raw potential, solar is obviously the way of the future, but nobody wants to be the one to foot the bill to get it there.


There are many German companies that develop and market solar power solutions. It's very profitable and one of our biggest export products nowadays. Solar power is also subsidized by the state, and a lot of home owners have already installed solar panels on their roofs. In Northern Germany, the landscape is also plastered with wind energy turbines. They kill thousands of birds each year, which I'm sure is great for the environement.

But like I said, all these green energy efforts currently supply a mere 12% of our increasing demand. If all house owners keep up with their neighbors and install solar panels, as well as a wind turbine if they have enough land, and then switch to electric cars and electric heating, we will need more nuclear energy than ever before.



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06 May 2012, 2:10 am

enrico_dandolo wrote:
Is that news? Because that I thought it was obvious already a year ago.

Obviously, there is another solution : massive reduction of energy consumption. Anyone up to it? *crickets*


That is indeed the only real solution. Bicycles, public transportation, better infrastructure and urban planning, low-energy housing, bioengineering and organic technology, and a vegetable garden in every backyard to reduce the amount of food that has to be commercially produced and transported (which should also result in a much healthier population).



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06 May 2012, 3:09 am

CrazyCatLord wrote:
enrico_dandolo wrote:
Is that news? Because that I thought it was obvious already a year ago.

Obviously, there is another solution : massive reduction of energy consumption. Anyone up to it? *crickets*


That is indeed the only real solution. Bicycles, public transportation, better infrastructure and urban planning, low-energy housing, bioengineering and organic technology, and a vegetable garden in every backyard to reduce the amount of food that has to be commercially produced and transported (which should also result in a much healthier population).

I'm not against any of those thing as long as they do not result in any new laws, taxes, fees, building codes, or increased government spending. However, that rules out most of the current generation of green technologies.

Nuclear power is great! It's clean, reliable, and safe when used right. Most power plants are in places that are not at risk from any major natural disaster. There are some that are at risk of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and things like that, but in the US and most other countries those things are taken into account in their construction. I'll use San Onofre, for example: it is in a known earthquake zone and on the beach. It was built to handle a 7.0 earthquake (unlikely in that particular spot) and it is going to get retrofitted. It also has a sea wall in case of a tsunami, but there currently isn't any subduction zone off the coast of California that could generate any significant tsunami. The biggest hypothetical tsunami it could get hit by is 9 feet, and the plant can withstand that. Like most plants, it does not rely solely on an electronic shutoff switch. The reactors have a giant wrench on top of them for a couple people to go in and crank them down and shut off cold. It was arrogant of the Japanese to assume that wouldn't be needed. Additionally, our reactors were designed to be a electric power station; the Fukushima reactors were based on a design for use on a submarine.

Solar power is severely limited in it's potential by the amount of energy from the sun that reaches the ground. There are some cells that can be more efficient, but the price and availability of rare earth metals will effect how economic such panels will be. Photovoltaic arrays on satellites beaming energy down in the form of microwaves has been proposed, but the technology and cost efficiency is still a long way off. I get so annoyed at all the great things people say about wind power. Those windmills have been around for at least 30 years and they are still junk that loses it's profitability when the subsidies end, and then get abandoned. They are an eyesore, they are destructive to vast swaths of land, they kill more endangered species than oil production. I don't know how many of you have ever been in a field of them, but even if you have them around you as far as the eye can see, their peak power is only about 4% that of a nuclear reactor.

I also hope to see development of geothermal power. Hydroelectric is cool too, but there's only so many rivers that are useful for that. In the end, we will need fossil fuels until alternatives can compete without subsidy on the free market.


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06 May 2012, 3:59 am

John_Browning wrote:
CrazyCatLord wrote:
enrico_dandolo wrote:
Is that news? Because that I thought it was obvious already a year ago.

Obviously, there is another solution : massive reduction of energy consumption. Anyone up to it? *crickets*


That is indeed the only real solution. Bicycles, public transportation, better infrastructure and urban planning, low-energy housing, bioengineering and organic technology, and a vegetable garden in every backyard to reduce the amount of food that has to be commercially produced and transported (which should also result in a much healthier population).

I'm not against any of those thing as long as they do not result in any new laws, taxes, fees, building codes, or increased government spending. However, that rules out most of the current generation of green technologies.

Nuclear power is great! It's clean, reliable, and safe when used right. Most power plants are in places that are not at risk from any major natural disaster. There are some that are at risk of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and things like that, but in the US and most other countries those things are taken into account in their construction. I'll use San Onofre, for example: it is in a known earthquake zone and on the beach. It was built to handle a 7.0 earthquake (unlikely in that particular spot) and it is going to get retrofitted. It also has a sea wall in case of a tsunami, but there currently isn't any subduction zone off the coast of California that could generate any significant tsunami. The biggest hypothetical tsunami it could get hit by is 9 feet, and the plant can withstand that. Like most plants, it does not rely solely on an electronic shutoff switch. The reactors have a giant wrench on top of them for a couple people to go in and crank them down and shut off cold. It was arrogant of the Japanese to assume that wouldn't be needed. Additionally, our reactors were designed to be a electric power station; the Fukushima reactors were based on a design for use on a submarine.

Solar power is severely limited in it's potential by the amount of energy from the sun that reaches the ground. There are some cells that can be more efficient, but the price and availability of rare earth metals will effect how economic such panels will be. Photovoltaic arrays on satellites beaming energy down in the form of microwaves has been proposed, but the technology and cost efficiency is still a long way off. I get so annoyed at all the great things people say about wind power. Those windmills have been around for at least 30 years and they are still junk that loses it's profitability when the subsidies end, and then get abandoned. They are an eyesore, they are destructive to vast swaths of land, they kill more endangered species than oil production. I don't know how many of you have ever been in a field of them, but even if you have them around you as far as the eye can see, their peak power is only about 4% that of a nuclear reactor.

I also hope to see development of geothermal power. Hydroelectric is cool too, but there's only so many rivers that are useful for that. In the end, we will need fossil fuels until alternatives can compete without subsidy on the free market.


I think some of the necessary changes require new government policies and regulations. Think of energy saving light bulbs, for example. There was never a huge debate about those policies around here. The new "bulbs" last longer and save us money in the long run, so what's not to like? But despite the obvious advantages it was necessary to take the wasteful incandescent bulbs out of circulation, which wasn't possible to achieve in an acceptable time frame without regulations.

I fully agree with you when it comes to nuclear energy. It has been used since 1951 and there are currently 436 nuclear plants world-wide. And how many major accidents have there been in all this time? I can only think of three: TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima. The first two have resulted in safer nuclear plants, and the Fukushima disaster is also something that we can learn from. We should check our power plants for structural weaknesses, reinforce what needs reinforcing, and focus on thorium reactors as a future solution. There is no need to haphazardly abandon a sufficiently secure energy solution with a very small CO2 footprint. As for oil, I think we need to stop using it as an energy source, and nuclear power can help us achieve that goal.



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06 May 2012, 5:25 am

I think it is generally difficult to say if nuclear energy is bad or good.
In for example Germany it is almost a religious battle between supporters and opponents.
Many people believe that nuclear energy is good or bad.
It is better to think about advantages and disadvantages and also listen to people with other opinions. (They had also good arguments)
I for myself dislike nuclear power:
Do you want pollution or nuclear waste for thousands of years (it is difficult to say)
Also, there is not endless uranium.
It is unrealistic to have a disaster, but only one disaster causes many problems.
As more nuclear power plants are on the world as more realistic is it that there could be a disaster.
I prefere alternative energies. But not always possible to use renewable energies (for example when a countrie is very poor)
I dislike it when a government decided to build dirty power plants to reduce nuclear energy, but I don't want new nuclear power plants.



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06 May 2012, 7:20 am

Aelfwine wrote:
I think it is generally difficult to say if nuclear energy is bad or good.
In for example Germany it is almost a religious battle between supporters and opponents.
Many people believe that nuclear energy is good or bad.
It is better to think about advantages and disadvantages and also listen to people with other opinions. (They had also good arguments)
I for myself dislike nuclear power:
Do you want pollution or nuclear waste for thousands of years (it is difficult to say)
Also, there is not endless uranium.
It is unrealistic to have a disaster, but only one disaster causes many problems.
As more nuclear power plants are on the world as more realistic is it that there could be a disaster.
I prefere alternative energies. But not always possible to use renewable energies (for example when a countrie is very poor)
I dislike it when a government decided to build dirty power plants to reduce nuclear energy, but I don't want new nuclear power plants.


more people die from air polltuion every year in america alone compared to the whole history of nuclear power.
people that dont like nuclear energy do so ouit of irrational fear.

mind you i have worked and still work with alternatives energy sources almost every day, i love them, but without a bulk power provider they are worthless.

not to mention liquid thorium reactors that are basically foolproof.


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06 May 2012, 9:32 am

Nuclear power is the short-term future source of energy for the world and what is most likely to be the most practical when oil reserves start dwindling. It's kind of funny in a way that we've had a couple of fairly bad meltdowns in the last 30 years, yet more lives have been lost mining coal and from the side-effects of burning coal and hunting other fossil fuels.

Nuclear gets a bad rap due to Chernobyl and similar events, yet nuclear has a pretty good safety/energy production ratio.



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06 May 2012, 10:29 am

I can understand why people would be hesitant in a place like Japan that is so prone to natural disaster to nuclear energy but AFAIK in Germany or most of the US, that is not the case. There worst thing to happen in my part of the country is snow and the occasional tornado or basement flood, nothing that should put a modern nuclear reactor at risk. I imagine the chances of the US using one of it's 10k nuclear warheads is far more likely than a serious meltdown that actually puts people at risk.



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06 May 2012, 11:14 am

The Japanese who have neither the land area or climate to depend on sunshine or wind will soon learn what results from non-nuclear powers sources. They will choke on their emissions.

Banzai!

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