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Japan Power

Japan's Nuclear Energy Industry Nears Shutdown 267

Posted by Soulskill
from the less-power-to-the-people dept.
mdsolar sends this quote from an article at the NY Times: "All but two of Japan's 54 commercial reactors have gone offline since the nuclear disaster a year ago, after the earthquake and tsunami, and it is not clear when they can be restarted. With the last operating reactor scheduled to be idled as soon as next month, Japan — once one of the world's leaders in atomic energy — will have at least temporarily shut down an industry that once generated a third of its electricity. With few alternatives, the prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, has called for restarting the plants as soon as possible, saying he supports a gradual phase-out of nuclear power over several decades. Yet, fearing public opposition, he has said he will not restart the reactors without the approval of local community leaders."
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Japan's Nuclear Energy Industry Nears Shutdown

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  • Low Power (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eggbloke (1698408) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:25AM (#39299851)
    My dad was saying that Tokyo is depressing, apparently there are power shortages so most of the signs and escalators are turned off and the city is dark. How are they supposed to make up their energy requirements if they stop using nuclear?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:29AM (#39299875)
    It's O.K, it's just another pathetic anti-nuclear article submitted by mdsolar, a known kook and scaremonger. It's unlikely the NYTime article says anything remotely like mdsolars summary implies. In fact, just assume the complete opposite of anything mdsolar has written in the summary.
  • Re:Low Power (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tsian (70839) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:33AM (#39299917) Homepage

    That is not really true. There was a period of (planned) rolling blackouts, but in the end energy conservation (and increased generation) meant that, except for immediately after the quake, the lights didn't go off.

    However, many buildings (and stations) reduced lighting and took some escalators out of service. However, even those measures have mostly been abandoned, with escalators and the like operating as before (partly due to the fact that it wasn't practical to block off escalators in many of the busier stations). Many stores and offices, however, continue to turn off some of their lights.

    That said, even at "reduced" lighting, most Japanese stations are still incredibly well lit. We aren't talking about platforms half shrouded in shadow so much as a slight reduction in the overall brightness level.

    It will be interesting to see, however, what happens as we once again approach summer (and the increased energy demands due to A/C) combined with the current shut-down of nuclear power plants.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:38AM (#39299947)

    Many of the Japanese nuclear plants are old unsecure BWRs, they should start working on safer ones so they can shut them down in 10 years.

  • Re:Low Power (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:44AM (#39299993)

    This hasn't been the case for months. I was in Tokyo a few years back and again in september 2011, a few months after Fukushima. The difference was negligible. Signs and escalators were on as usual. There were no rolling blackouts. They had just switched back the airport express trains to the regular schedule too after running them on reduced traffic for a while. I did a fair bit of travelling around central and western Japan and there were no signs of power shortages anywhere (granted I didn't go anywhere very near to Fukushima). The only thing that reminded me that there had been any kind of nuclear power-related incident was that I found one grocery advertising guaranteed radiation-free food.

    I strongly believe the scale and impact of the Fukushima incident was vastly exaggerated by western media for the sake of sensationalism. The consequences for those living nearby were severe. For everyone else life returned to normal after a few months.

  • Re:energy rations? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ommerson (1485487) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:47AM (#39300017)

    The Japanese have been very successful in curbing demand. I was over in Japan for a week on a business trip last year, and it was interesting to see how they did it. This included absolutely all hand-driers in toilets being switched off, less air-conditioning (room temperature was set for 28C in the office), the business week of large corporations shifted to reduce peak-week-time demand and increase that on the weekend, and a move to more relaxed corporate dress-code - which included in many cases, a small towel attached to the waistband with which to mop off the sweat form the oppressive environment. There were no doubt more measures that I wasn't aware of, but life definitely carries on as normal without power cuts.

    Our suspicion is that this state of affairs will become the norm.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:50AM (#39300033)

    ... that they're currently shipping in in vast quantities? I'm sure thats doing wonders for their CO2 footprint.

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:53AM (#39300057) Homepage

    It's the NYT paywall - you just need to change the '_r' parameter in the URL to 0 instead of 4.

  • Re:energy rations? (Score:4, Informative)

    by sunking2 (521698) on Friday March 09, 2012 @10:29AM (#39300391)
    Yet if you look at they graphic in the article it looks like they've only managed to reduce demand by about 10%. Not a huge reduction when you take into account the changes in living standards. Just goes to show that conservation will only go so far and it's all the things in the background that a required on a day to day basis that is the big hitters.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @10:31AM (#39300409)

    Germany are taking the route of pretending to get by with wind power by importing nuclear electricity from France. That doesn't work for Japan.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/14/europe-power-supply-idUSL5E8DD87020120214

  • by fritsd (924429) on Friday March 09, 2012 @10:49AM (#39300601) Journal
    From what I read in the western media, TEPCO is losing incredible amounts of money cleaning up the Fukushima mess.
    The Japanese also seem less than happy ("Private panel blames TEPCO's 'systematic negligence'") [asahi.com] [note to Slashdot readers: that Asahi Shimbun newspaper doesn't seem to have a paywall].

    However, I also read that TEPCO was strongly involved in developing Sodium-Sulfur batteries [wikipedia.org] to help solve the storage problem associated with large rollout of intermittent electricity generators (i.e. solar only when it's sunny and wind turbines only when it's windy). Anything else than Sodium-Sulfur or other cheap redox couples, is probably too expensive for real large-scale use.

    So, I really hope that the battery division of TEPCO survives any lawsuits/bankruptcy procedures/government sanctions because they seem to be working on transitioning Japan away from the nuclear addiction and towards a very clean (but slightly explosive) technology that the rest of the world is probably eager to share.
    Anybody in Japan please comment if this makes sense. I don't read Japanese and have never been there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @10:50AM (#39300611)
    It isn't a summary, it's a quote taken directly from the article. So yes the article does say exactly the same as the summary.
  • Re:Alternatives? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) on Friday March 09, 2012 @11:03AM (#39300747)

    Japan was already the #2 nation in the world at burning oil for power; Saudi Arabia was #1, no surprise. #3? Good ol' USA - courtesy Hawaii. Japan is the #3 oil consumer in the world; Japan - Analysis - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) [eia.gov]. The estimate is for them to increase oil consumption ca. 238k barrels per day to make up for the shortfall from offline nukes; oil only provides 10% of their generating capacity. This will add a few % points to the overall price of crude but Iran sanctions and growing demand from developing countries will be larger factors.

    Japan also shed 423 kb/d in 2009, due to the recession, so they're simply backtracking to earlier consumption levels.

  • Re:See? (Score:5, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday March 09, 2012 @12:40PM (#39301767)
    I didn't think that the reactors at Fukushima were poorly maintained. The disaster planning/design however did not address both an earthquake and a tsunami of that size. Now they should have anticipated both as the plant was located along a shoreline, but that's a different matter. When the earthquake hit, the reactors shut down immediately and the emergency diesel generators kicked in to provide power and cooling according to plan. But these generators were located either on the ground floor or basements. The sea wall around the plant would protect it against it a 25 ft wave. The problem was the wave was at least 40 ft. The diesel generators were wiped out and the plant lost all power. Disaster planning did not address this scenario and operators had to improvise. I would also say that the company TEPCO as a whole was slow to react and not forthcoming about the reality of the situation.

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