Posts tagged “Fukushima”
The new energy policy will allow some or all of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors, 48 of them currently shut down, to go back online during the 27-year transition period, as needed.
Despite concerns that switching to renewable energy sources will prove too expensive for his country, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has said during a political debate among party leadership candidates that he will take into account his party’s recommendation to phase out nuclear power by the 2030s; news reports suggest that the prime minister’s Cabinet already has an official policy agreement in place.
Expected to be put into political action by the end of this week, Japan’s new energy policy will see it gradually move away from nuclear power — a monumental shift for a resource-poor nation that has long relied on nuclear energy to keep its citizens supplied with electricity. The policy will include a 40-year cap on maximum reactor lifespans, an immediate halt on the planning and construction of new reactors and a strong focus on renewable energy sources and conservation efforts.
A new power grid based around renewable energy will cost Japan $622 billion to build, according to government estimates
With Japan in the process of rebuilding the infrastructure damaged during 2011′s devastating tsunami, many in the country are suggesting that the time is right for a transition from nuclear to renewable energy in that country. Fears of nuclear disaster fueled by the damage and subsequent radioactive leak at the Fukushima nuclear reactor after the tsunami have many groups, both private and public, clamoring for an immediate shutdown of Japan’s nuclear program.
Despite public pressure, though, many politicians recognize that the cost for Japan to move away from dependance on nuclear energy would simply be too high.
From a story in Forbes titled Fukushima Radiation May Actually Save Bluefin Tuna:
If the governments can’t help, maybe bad publicity will [save the bluefin tuna]. Nicholas Fisher, the study’s co-author and a marine biologist at Stony Brook University in New York, says when he first saw the levels of radiation in the fish, caught off of San Diego, “my first thought was ‘this will do more for the conservation of this endangered animal than nearly anything else could.’”
Which is also the first thing I thought when this story broke. And yes, I know that isn’t a picture of a bluefin tuna.
There are natural levels of radioactivity in the tuna, and Fukushima has only added the slightest amount more. (The report can be found here.) “But people are often anxious about radioactivity,” says Fisher.
And this may be what ultimately benefits the Bluefin. The fish, Madigan points out, is not harmed by the radiation that they collected while swimming through the spill waters off the coast of Japan after the tsunami.
But the public perception of the fish may be contaminated for good. And that may keep it out of restaurants.
In this week’s episode of R-Squared Energy TV, I cover:
- Japan’s decision to abandon nuclear power (which will contend for the top energy story of the year — regardless of how it plays out)
- ConocoPhillips’ successful methane hydrates drilling test in the Arctic, and whether that means that methane hydrates will soon be a viable energy option
- The likelihood that gasoline prices have indeed peaked (for now)
Nuclear Shut-Down Grounded In Recent German History
The German government surprised Europe by announcing the closure of its nuclear power program a year ago this week, immediately after the Fukushima disaster. Some have since reopened, but others never will. They all will be closed and permanently retired by 2022.
This seemed to many of us in the energy field like a rash decision, but it was not. In my conversations around Berlin this week, it has become clear that this was not a simple, snap decision in response to the Japanese tragedy. Anti-nuclear sentiment has a long history and broad support across society.
Rise of the Greens
That consensus against nuclear power has its roots in the Green Party. The Greens emerged from the rebellious 1968 generation. In the U.S. we think of a green party as solely an environmental movement; that’s a big part of the German green movement, but certainly not the only part. The early greens consciously rejected what they perceived as the ideals of both sides of the Iron Curtain that divided their country. They were both anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian.
Impending Media Tsunami
March 11 will be the one year anniversary of last year’s quake in Japan. Brace yourselves for the coming media tsunami. My hypothesis is that the media will focus on the Daiichi reactors instead of the 22,000 who lost their lives. I will also hazard a few guesses as to why they will do that.
Below is my nutshell synopsis of the major events that occurred at the Daiichi power plant:
- The reactors shut down and the fuel rods began cooling as designed when the quake hit.
- A 30-foot high tsunami swamped the emergency power generators.
- Water that was covering fuel rods evaporated causing them to start melting.
- Hydrogen that had accumulated in the upper stories of the buildings that covered the fuel pools and containment vessels exploded (eliminating the potential to trap more hydrogen).
- People living within a twelve mile radius were evacuated prior to venting the containment vessel.
- A badly misguided attempt was made to dump water on the pools using helicopters.
- Within one hour of their arrival, firefighters using a single pump truck parked near the ocean managed to leave enough water spraying into the reactor buildings to avert further overheating, which allowed workers to safely return to continue containment and cooling.
Certainly, just as airline regulatory bodies have always used major incidents to improve designs, inspections, and procedures, the nuclear regulators will do the same as a result of this latest nuclear incident.
Here are my choices for the Top 10 energy related stories of 2011. Don’t get too hung up on the relative rankings. They are mostly in no particular order, although I think the top story is pretty obvious. 1. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster On March 11, 2011 the tsunami that flooded Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant resulted in the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. The tragedy spurred heated debates over whether nuclear power could ever be totally risk-free. Several countries decided that the potential consequences were just too great, and reversed their plans for new nuclear plants and in some cases shuttered existing plants. The incident will likely slow the global development of nuclear power for years, just as… Continue»
This Week in Energy is a weekly round-up of news making headlines in the world of energy. Most of these stories are posted throughout the week to our Energy Ticker page. The purpose is to stimulate discussion on energy issues, and community members should feel free to turn these into open thread energy discussions. Suggestions and news tips are welcome. I (Sam) can be reached at editor [at] consumerenergyreport [dot] com . Military and DoE Studies According to a new study: From Barracks to Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America’s Armed Forces [PDF], by Pew Charitable Trusts, the U.S. Defense Department could spend upwards of $10 billion annually on alternative energy by the year 2030. The DoD spent $15.2 billion… Continue»
The following is a guest post from OilPrice.com. ——————————- In the Aftermath of Fukushima, Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Rise to 20 Percent The worldwide implications for nuclear power advocates in light of the 11 March disaster at Japan’s Daichi Fukushima nuclear complex, battered first by an earthquake and a subsequent tsunami, are slowly unfolding. Nations committed to nuclear power are being subjected to a relentless PR barrage by nuclear construction firms, who stand to lose billions if current contracts are suspended or, even worse, canceled. Despite the bland reassurances of the nuclear power industry that “it can’t happen here,” in Europe, Italy has canceled plans to construct nuclear reactors, while Germany’s Bundestag last month passed a resolution to close all… Continue»