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Committee Offers Scenarios for Japan's Energy Future 131

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the doomed-no-matter-what-you-do dept.
ananyo writes with a story about more concrete plans for a reduced or nuclear-free energy future for Japan. From the article: "It's official: nuclear power will have a much smaller role in Japan's energy future than was once thought. Since the meltdowns and gas explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in March 2011, all of Japan's remaining reactors have been shut down for inspections and maintenance. The government offered a glimpse of their future, and that of the country's nuclear power in general, when it published an outline of four ways to satisfy Japan's future energy demands. One scenario recommends using a market mechanism to determine the nuclear contribution. Under the other three, nuclear power would supply at most one-quarter of Japan's energy by 2030 — and in one case, none at all. The scenarios come from a 25-person advisory committee to the industry ministry. The sharp reductions in the nuclear power part of the country's energy mix mean that Japan will struggle to reach the 31% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions that it had planned by 2030 (PDF)."
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Committee Offers Scenarios for Japan's Energy Future

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  • Pick one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:31AM (#40231431)

    1) Reduced nuclear
    2) Reduced coal, oil, and natural gas

    Any third option for the foreseeable future is a hippie pipe dream (unless you count regular, sustained blackouts as an option). And if anyone thinks that solar panels and wind turbines are going to supply Tokyo with even a fraction of its power needs, you've obviously never been there.

    • Yep, nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas are the only 4 cost-effective methods of large-scale power generation, especially in a crowded region such as Japan. Solar panels are not yet cheap enough and wind requires such a large area (so do solar panels but they could be mounted on roofs).
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by sycodon (149926)

        Shhhhh! MDSolar might hear.

      • Re:Pick one (Score:4, Informative)

        by AbrasiveCat (999190) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @10:01AM (#40231779)

        Yep, nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas are the only 4 cost-effective methods of large-scale power generation, especially in a crowded region such as Japan. Solar panels are not yet cheap enough and wind requires such a large area (so do solar panels but they could be mounted on roofs).

        Those of us who live in the northwest of the United States, or western Canada, might argue that hydro belongs on your list. There aren't many big hydro opportunities left to develop around here, but hydro plants we have seem be cost efficient.

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          Hydro has a severely limited capacity based on local geography. In case of industrialized countries like Japan, pretty much anything that can be dammed has been dammed and no additional capacity is available.

          Japan *may* have some luck with geothermal due to its favourable location, but I imagine they have quakes that are bad enough already, like one that killed over 30.000 people, displaced some hundreds of thousands and fucked up Fukushima etc with the tsunami it caused. So basically they're stuck with bur

        • Japan also does a lot of hydroelectric, problem is there are basically no more rivers left to dam in the entire country, so thats a problem.
      • Sea wind (Score:5, Informative)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @10:57AM (#40232483)

        wind requires such a large area

        No land is needed for wind power. Japan is an island nation at a latitude that has plenty of trade winds. Wind turbines can be located at sea, where the wind is steadier and twice as strong as on land.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Japan has vast amounts of geothermal and plenty of off-shore wind. The former is cheaper than nuclear and coal, not sure about gas. The latter... Well, post Fukushima it is cheaper than nuclear, and possibly coal if you count the environmental and health costs of burning it.

        There is another option too: reduce energy consumption by becoming more efficient.

        • by rasmusbr (2186518)

          If we ignore countries with ridiculously large hydro dam resources (Norway, Sweden, Finland, etc) the only currently available economic way of storing sufficient amounts of energy is by storing methane, and the only currently available method of getting enough methane is by tapping natural gas out of the Earth. So natural gas is a given if we're going to use intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar on a large scale, which we are by the looks of things.

          Maybe we'll come up with a better way to store

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            If we ignore countries with ridiculously large hydro dam resources (Norway, Sweden, Finland, etc) the only currently available economic way of storing sufficient amounts of energy is by storing methane, and the only currently available method of getting enough methane is by tapping natural gas out of the Earth.

            Or molten salt, or pumped hydro...

          • by mpe (36238)
            If only there was a way to build nuclear plants that didn't take 10 to 20 years and require extensive construction work and hyper-specialized labor on site!

            Possibly the same techniques used to build Calder Hall. Took less that 4 years to build and operated for the best part of 50.
        • by nojayuk (567177)

          "Japan has vast amounts of geothermal and plenty of off-shore wind."

          Yes, Japan has lots of off-shore wind, so much their word for this has been Nicolled [wikipedia.org] by the English language. "Taifu" or as we in the West spell it, "Typhoon". See the reports of the typhoon that hit Japan in September 2011 [wikipedia.org] for an example of how bad they can get (over 90 people dead and missing).

          Imagine what will happen to a farm of wind turbines standing out in open ocean when it gets hit by even a mild typhoon. It doesn't help that t

    • Re:Pick one (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ironhandx (1762146) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:41AM (#40231551)

      This is entirely accurate for Japans current situation. Even in areas like the US where land per capita is relatively abundant they can't possibly supply all of the countries power needs on wind, hydro, and solar alone. At least not any time soon, and by soon I mean within the next 30-40 years, which is our immediate concern.

      Only a very few countries in the world have enough land to supply completely sustainable energy. Canada is one, Australia is another. There are maybe 3-4 other countries that could at least mostly get onto these energy sources.

      Since as you can see this is a very small club to be in, Nuclear is unfortunately the way forward for the foreseeable future.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        Both the United States and Japan actually have considerable unexploited hydroelectric capacity, but construction of major new dams has been effectively discontinued for several decades now, because of a mixture of local opposition and environmental worries. It's renewable, but not sure it's really "green", since it requires a massive, permanent change to a river basin. Nuclear is probably greener, despite not being renewable.

        • by dj245 (732906)
          Both the United States and Japan actually have considerable unexploited hydroelectric capacity, but construction of major new dams has been effectively discontinued for several decades now, because of a mixture of local opposition and environmental worries. It's renewable, but not sure it's really "green", since it requires a massive, permanent change to a river basin. Nuclear is probably greener, despite not being renewable.

          Not only that, but until last year, Japan had been decommissioning a lot of thei
      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Afaik even Canada and Australia can't really do that. About the only country in the world that can is Iceland, because of its volcanic composition, small populace and general lack of heavy industry.

        Even if you have a lot of rivers to dam up, you still need to move the electricity, meaning countries with large distances between potential dams and city centres that need lots of power are no likely going to be feasible. We simply do not have material technology that is good enough for this yet.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        0.3% of the Sahara could supply all of western Europe. There is more than enough solar available in southern US states for the whole country. Try googling solar thermal collectors. They work 24/7, BTW.

        • by peragrin (659227)

          The problem is distance. Until you have superconductors for the distribution grid the losses are just to great. While Texas can sell some power to California. NY or Florida can't

      • by mpe (36238)
        Even in areas like the US where land per capita is relatively abundant they can't possibly supply all of the countries power needs on wind, hydro, and solar alone. At least not any time soon, and by soon I mean within the next 30-40 years, which is our immediate concern.

        The major problem with wind (along with solar) is that supply and demand rarely match. It's rather optimistic to expect that a problem which has been around for thousands of years will suddenly be solved within a few decades.
        • 30-40 years is way way overly optimistic. I have doubts that we will solve that particular problem at any point within the next 100 years but I will admit that 30-40 was put there just to avoid the arbitrary mod-downs from the fanatical solar power advocates.

    • Re:Pick one (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pellik (193063) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:47AM (#40231607)
      Nuclear power will only do serious damage to the environment if mistakes are made. Fossil fuels will damage the environment no matter what. I wonder if there is any logic behind Japan's decision or if this is just some politicians cashing in on public fear.
      • Re:Pick one (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Urban Garlic (447282) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @10:09AM (#40231851)

        One thing we have learned is that, in nuclear power, "not making mistakes" can cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. One of the mistakes we heard about when the Fukushima Daiichi event happened was continuing to operate these poorly-designed older-generation reactors for so long.

        From the sounds of it, this new report has come out strongly in favor of not repeating that mistake, which sounds pretty logical to me.

        • by Kokuyo (549451)

          So the problem is operating old tech for too long? Well, not using that tech at all is one thing they could do... or they could upgrade in security conscious intervals. They could try other products. I mean, the iPhone isn't the only smartphone out there and neither are reactors like Daiichi the only types available.

          The only problem with this discussion is that a viable alternative is not considered due to fear and bad publicity.

          • Re:Pick one (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Luckyo (1726890) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @10:57AM (#40232479)

            This is the devastating irony of modern nuclear power. The more we invest in it, the safer it becomes. Yet investments in nuclear power are often viewed as something that increases risk of accidents due to "more power plants".

            It's a self-fulfilling prophecy as a result of it we're still running many plants built in sixties when nuclear energy generation was not even a decade old.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by taiwanjohn (103839)

        Ironically, part of the fossil fuel damage is also radioactive. Coal contains trace amounts of thorium, uranium, radium, etc., which are simply released into the atmosphere -- far more radiation than any nuclear facility would be allowed to release in normal operations. Advocates of some Gen-IV reactor designs claim that there's more nuclear energy potential in these waste particles than is produced by the coal-fired plants that release them.

      • by ch-chuck (9622)

        I'm beginning to think that, realistically, just like we put up with (US) 50,000 highway deaths per year because we like our cars, or an airline crash every so often because we like flying, we are going to have to sacrifice a 3 Mile Island or Chernobyl every once in a while for our love of electrical power. It's not a perfect world and never will be, stuff happens, and all you can do is be able to respond to contain and minimize the damage when it does. Like the town in PA that was moved due to an undergrou

        • How many lives are lost due to not generating enough power? What is the cost in infrastructure loss? There is such a thing as acceptable loss in any rational equation.
          • by khallow (566160)

            How many lives are lost due to not generating enough power?

            It can be quite a few. Heat waves and such have killed hundreds to thousands at a time before. If a heavily urbanized area (let's say Tokyo) experiences extremely hot weather (for the region) and the power fails at the same time, that could lead IMHO to more deaths than could come from a poorly handled nuclear reactor meltdown.

            What is the cost in infrastructure loss?

            What's the cost of someone not working because the power is out? What's the cost of a huge traffic jam because signal lights are out? Or the strategic cost of being more vulnerable to

    • I Don't Get It (Score:2, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) *

      Any third option for the foreseeable future is a hippie pipe dream

      I don't get it, all the free market preachers are promising that my energy problems will shortly be solved by the free market but your view is such a fatalistic-don't-even-try-jaded response that you seem to doubt the free market can provide.

      And if anyone thinks that solar panels and wind turbines are going to supply Tokyo with even a fraction of its power needs, you've obviously never been there.

      I haven't been there. But no one's asking those solutions to go from zero to powering Tokyo over night. Look how gradually it's taken wind power to start in the United States [wikimedia.org] (current numbers here [wikimedia.org]). Japan is comparable at our state level [gwec.net] and is looking at connecting [smartplanet.com]

      • Re:I Don't Get It (Score:4, Informative)

        by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @11:17AM (#40232769)

        I don't get it, all the free market preachers are promising that my energy problems will shortly be solved by the free market but your view is such a fatalistic-don't-even-try-jaded response that you seem to doubt the free market can provide.

        No, the "free market preachers" aren't saying that. Because the "free market preachers" know perfectly well that energy production is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world.

        And as long as NIMBY exists, there isn't really an answer to increasing energy production - the people want green, but they pretty much stop wanting that as soon as the price tag is mentioned (yes, going all solar and wind will increase energy costs).

        On a related note, saw in the news this AM that the windpower industry is really peeved that Congress hasn't gotten around to renewing their tax credits, and is expecting massive layoffs as a result.

        Which reminds me, I really need to get off my duff and get some solar panels on my roof before the tax rebates end - much better to buy while the neighbors are paying for it than to wait until I have to pay for it myself.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Government regulations stop a lot of projects from even getting off the drawing board. The whole reason the nuclear power industry developed based on uranium instead of thorium was for military reasons.

        But, yeah, keep being a little ideological twerp and railing against the free market. That's working out so well for the world.

        • by nojayuk (567177)

          "The whole reason the nuclear power industry developed based on uranium instead of thorium was for military reasons."

          Crap. Uranium reactors are physically simple devices, steam kettles heated by spontaneously fissioning uranium. Thorium isn't fertile enough by itself to initiate and sustain fission in a simple reactor structure. India has been building and trying to sell thorium-fuelled reactors but they include quantities of medium-enriched (ca. 20%) uranium and plutonium in the fuel mix to provide enough

    • Instead of stating your gut instinct as if it were fact, why don't you figure out mathematically if Japan has the geothermal energy to cleanly power their entire nation. Geo thermal is cheap and easy and Fuji-sama is a volcano, ã?

      Iceland makes over 25% of their power from geothermal sources and is on track to cut over to 100% in the "forseeable future" as you put it. Japan has far more manpower and technological ability than Iceland, and the exact same equipment that is used to exploit a boiling wat

      • by CptNerd (455084)

        The problem is the time it takes to design, locate, get permission to build, build, test and bring online any new power plant over the next 20 years. Not every hotspot is stable enough to accomodate multi-megawatt power plants.

        Plus, you want to talk about environmental impact, since people are so hung up about fracking causing mini-earthquakes, what do you think pumping huge amounts of water into hot rock on various faults would do?

        Not to mention the water picking up large amounts of sulfur, creating sulfu

        • There's also nothing special about nuclear technology that makes it worth fixing.

          No currently available terrestrial nuclear fission reactor has ever been economically viable without government sponsorship, and taxpayers overwhelmingly do not want it.

          Do something better instead of fixating on old crappy technology like nuclear fission reactors. You may as well be burning whale oil - nobody has ever made a better oil lamp than a whale oil lamp!

      • Do the math. 40% of of the energy for 0.25% of the population means 0.1% of the total energy use of Japan if Japan used as much geothermal as Iceland.

        No, Japan doesn't have enough geothermal.

        Geothermal energy is an extremely limited resource, even though most people claim otherwise. New Zealand had to scale down several geothermal powerstations because they took too much heat from the reservoirs. Japan has about 30 times as many people as New Zealand. And New Zealand (itself the place of the largest volcani

    • Get moving on thorium based reactor tech? I would have expected more out of the box thinking from Japan. They were the only ones doing any serious research into extracting uranium from seawater, for example.

    • by Jens Egon (947467)

      If current trends continue world solar panel production will surpass world energy needs by 2023-24.

      (Ok, so this cause so much change in energy prices and the ways we do things, that obviously current trends wont continue.)

      Tokyo obviously have little room for solar in Tokyo, but we do know how to move electricity.

      ... and the Pacific is rather large, maybe there's room for a solar panel or two.

    • by mpe (36238)
      And if anyone thinks that solar panels and wind turbines are going to supply Tokyo with even a fraction of its power needs, you've obviously never been there.

      Even if the could on paper the problem with both systems of generation is that supply is variable and in no way matched to demand. About the only technology which can store a useful amount of energy to help with this is pumped hydro. It's rather harder to build even one of these in the sea...
    • 3) Reduced GDP

      You can cut your power usage a lot by reducing a) manufacturing, transportation, and export of goods, and b) Construction of new buildings, structures(bridges, railroads, etc) and roads or renovations of old buildings, structures and roads.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:37AM (#40231495)
    So in other words Japan will make nuclear power taboo so there will be little research/upkeep on the remaining reactors making another Fukishima more likely. Wonderful!
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      On the contrary it is now being heavily researched and large sums of money spent finding ways to make the existing plants safer. The most comprehensive monitoring exercise ever is being carried out, and we will probably learn more about the effect of low radiation doses on human beings and the environment than we ever have before in the next few years.

    • by Asic Eng (193332)

      Those were US-designed reactors. The Japanese should have simply kept up with the manufacturer's upgrades, just like the plants in the US did. Japanese research is somewhat irrelevant to that. Turning off nuclear power plants (which is just one of the suggested options) does not mean research into it becomes taboo. In any case there is still nuclear waste to be handled for generations, so there will be a nuclear industry of sorts in Japan, whether it produces energy or not.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Add in some large scale wind farms along the coast.

    If they passed a law saying that individuals had to create 30% of their power using green methods, or buy into a green energy co-op that would pool the money to purchase large systems, it would work.

    They also have to build more efficiency into their designs, use geothermal cooling, and energy efficient lighting. Also reduce the amount of stuff they have running when no one is home.

    • by CptNerd (455084)

      Right, build them along the coasts so they can all be destroyed by the next tsunami.

  • This is an excellent opportunity for Toshiba [nuclearstreet.com] to seize the moment and take nuclear power generation in a whole new direction.

    • On a similar note, I ran across this [smartplanet.com] today. Chubu Electric Power Co. is investing some R&D bucks "specifically looking into an alternative reactor design that would use liquid thorium fuel in a reactor cooled by molten salt." That ought to make the thorium geeks happy.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:52AM (#40231659)
    They haven't built a new reactor in a very long time. This announcement is not much different to the German government one - letting the existing plants run down and not putting in a huge amount of capital to revive an almost abandoned reactor construction industry to build new ones. Everyone involved in building the previous ones has long moved on and spare expertise outside of their country is scarce.
    • by Mashiki (184564)

      That's not really true. Fukishima had a new reactor being brought online and it was I believe 6 years old with plans for two more. There was a backlog order for containment vessels in Japan around a 20 year wait, because they make all the reactor vessels by hand instead of using forms.

      Oh well, it just means us Canadians will make money off Japan. They're buying coal, and coalmines as fast as we can dig it out of the ground and at the rate they're going, they'll be outstripping the chinese for demand for

      • by tp1024 (2409684) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @11:23AM (#40232867)

        In fact reactor #6, while shut down at the time of the tsunami, was the only reactor that still had a functioning power supply after the tsunami. It was the only BWR5 design (#1 was a BWR3, #2 to #5 were BWR4) - unlike the others, it had three separate subdivisions each capable of cooling the reactor in the event of a power outage. Redundancy works. Just as in the Tokai, Fukushima Daini and Onagawa nuclear power plants that were also hit by the tsunami.

        However, neither TEPCO nor the Japanese Government should be spared any criticism for failing to upgrade the power plants. Hydrogen explosions were a known problem in those plants and could be prevented for a very modest sum of a few million dollar per reactor. Filtered containment vents were also implemented all over europe, Japan was attending the Paris conference on filtered containment vents in June 1988 and the only nation not to issue any official statement at all about them or initiate any studies on the problem.

        Until 2011 I thought Japan was basically a modern country with decent safety standards - now I know better.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          Until 2011 I thought Japan was basically a modern country with decent safety standards - now I know better.

          It is a modern country with decent safety standards, that's the problem. When corporate greed and low probability risk is involved the same thing happens everywhere.

          • by tp1024 (2409684)

            The same thing happens everywhere? How come, then, that most european countries did in fact upgrade their safety systems?

  • Since you don't want your Uranium anymore, please send it over here so the U.S. can build more carbon-free power plants. Otherwise, how will we power all of the Japanese-made electronics that you so graciously sell us?

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Don't forget to send the wastes to us in France, after you'll have finished decommissioning the last nuclear fuel reprocessing facility in USA. We'll be very happy to sell you back the resulting MOX fuel.
      • Capitalism at work!

        • by Yvanhoe (564877)
          Actually our reprocessing facilities are owned by Areva, our public company that manages France's nuclear power plants. Not that anything of this is incompatible with "capitalism"...
  • by JWW (79176) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:59AM (#40231739)

    "struggle to meet their emissions targets."

    I think they misspelled the word struggle, it should be spelt FAIL.

  • Years ago when I live in Japan I remember it being extremely hot. The sun would bake down and roast the street at 7am. If every house had to have panels on it's roof by law, would that help? Cover the whole place. Put it on sides of buildings.
    they do the future there quite well. Now that there is a need I can see them being first.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Every last light must be replaced with something efficient, and they're going to need solar-thermal systems so they can do away with inefficient electric on-demand hot water heating systems, and so on... but they can certainly make massive improvements along those lines... for massive amounts of money.

      • When I first went the country wasn't very disability conscious. Skip a few years later ..... every main sidewalks, rail and subway stations had bobbled track bright yellow of floor ties. Braille on hand rails - lifts and loads of other bits. Social conscience has drive there too. If you can make it cool people will want them. Tax breaks for the supply chain and many more false economy drivers can be put in place. The tax make work they use builds good infrastructural items. Use the trillion yen subsidy for
      • by g8oz (144003)

        Their hot water systems are getting efficient. Very efficient. See EcoCute

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EcoCute [wikipedia.org]

        "The EcoCute derives two units of energy from ambient air temperature for every unit of electrical power it requires"

    • by TheLink (130905)
      It won't help (unless their roofs are already painted black or close to black).

      Otherwise it would get hotter than before. Solar cells absorb sunlight and convert about 25% to electricity. Much of the other 75% becomes heat (only some of it is reflected back to the sky). So if their roofs were not black and were a lighter colour and reflecting more light to the sky, then installing solar panels would make things hotter.

      You can use the 25% for air-conditioning, that makes the houses cooler, but the heat is ju
    • by Solandri (704621)
      Japan (and Korea and the coastal areas of SE and E Asia) are in a monsoon area. The heat is due to the humidity. The sun does not magically shine stronger there (if anything it shines less due to the pollution from China).

      Once you subtract out government subsidies, solar is currently almost an order of magnitude more expensive per kWh than fossil fuels. Wind is a much better choice, at a bit less than 2x the cost. Nuclear is the best scalable option, at roughly the same cost as fossil fuels, but is a
      • That's a very sad way to look at it. I think we'd better invest in power tech and be ready when the oil and gas run out. have my + interesting/informative
        As for magically shine stronger, - being from the UK, that amount of sun did seem magical.

        To sum up then, every roof covered with panels within the next 30years is a daft idea; but I'm still sticking to it :)
  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @10:13AM (#40231889)
    We need nuclear power generator technology that can be safely run by corrupt liars. Most government and regulatory agencies are run by corrupt liars, as we saw in the handling of the Fukushima crisis.
    • Thorium based reactors are pretty safe and with some investment you can build a few trash burning plants which produce fairly clean and cheap energy. Of course this requires people to actually learn about this sort of technology which isn't convenient for most people to do.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Even if such a thing existed you still have to get it built to spec, install it, fuel it, remove the spent fuel, decommission it and store the waste. People on Slashdot bang on about developing safer reactor designs that can't melt down, but that is only part of the problem and far from the most common type of accident.

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @10:26AM (#40232059)

    Look nuclear could lead to bad scenarios, but civilization destroying climate change is the Worst Possible Thing. Why not spend the money to build them better? They knew beforehand that their older gen nukes were vulnerable. It has to be at least one option. It's great that there are super incentivized to find sustainable alternatives but is incentive what is lacking on the part of researchers or is it now time we're running out of ?

    Systematically lower carbon emissions- at the point of gun if necessary. Full throttle research into green technology - using deficit spending if necessary. Conservation and maximum usage of current alternatives , by law if necessary. That's what's got to happen and it will the only question is will we do it in time?

  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @10:53AM (#40232429)

    If you want to replace just Fukushima Daiichi with solar power, you'd have to blanket the whole evacuation zone with one huge solar power plant like that one. [www.juwi.de] (Notice the incredible environmental friendliness of solar power in that place!). But in fact, you'll lose about half of that energy due to storage issues or inefficiency.

    In order to replace all Japanese nuclear power plants with solar power, you need ten of those power plants - if you ignore storage losses.

    • by Jens Egon (947467)

      Ye, gods, you mean they'd have to roof over ten! parking lots.

      The Horror!

      Ok, so huge parking lots, but still ...

      • by Jens Egon (947467)

        Just did the numbers

        Daiichi was 4.7 GW, solar is 1kw/m^2 at peak insolation, average is .25 kw/m^2, so 18.8 kw/m^2.

        That's asuming total cover and no clouds or other inefficiencies. In other words multiply land need by the inverse of your efficincy.

        Now compare that to the 13,400 km^2 that Japan used for roads in 2007 (source [mlit.go.jp]). And I'm sorry, but I couldn't find a reliable number for rooftops.

        • by tp1024 (2409684)

          The solar park i linked to delivers an annual average of 4W/m^2. That's 60MW peak, 6MW average, 160 hectars of land. That's the real numbers. Since Japan is further south, I used 6W/m^2.

          • by Jens Egon (947467)

            Japan is quite cloudy, though. We might as well just use the real numbers.

            Landing at 128km^2 to replace Daiichi.

            By the time they've roofed over every road, they're at more than a hundred times that. And again rooftops haven't been counted.

            My point is simply that land use is in no way a deal killer for solar.

            • by tp1024 (2409684)

              That area is far too small. Even at 10W/m^2 you'd only get 1.28 GW on that area.

              You forget about the unavoidable gaps you need between the solar panels to avoid casting a shadow on neighbouring panels. On houses that is no problem, because the shadow is where the other half of the house is and you don't count the area of the other half of the house. But when you try to saturate an area with solar panels that cannot be ignored.

              • by Jens Egon (947467)

                No. I got that from 160 hectares yields 6MW -> so to get 4.7GW we need 4.7GW / 6MW * 0.160km^2 = 125.3km^2

                Rounded to nearest "easy to calculate in my head" number. ;-)

                • by tp1024 (2409684)

                  Ahh, I see your mistake:
                  1ha = 0.01 km^2
                  160ha = 1.6 km^2

                  • by Jens Egon (947467)

                    Hmm. And so they do indeed need to roof all roads with solar panels in order to replace nuclear with that.

                    Putting it into the Pacific might well be a better idea ;-)

                    Mind that Japan actualy has quite a lot of inaccessible land. Of course if they could access it to place solar panels there ... They'd plant rice instead!

                    • by tp1024 (2409684)

                      Actually, the inaccessible land is forest for the most part and the Japanese are quite proud of it and happen to like their landscape.

                      I also doubt that just putting solar on all roofs is enough. (Japan has multistory houses and rather dense urban settlements. Quite unlike american suburbs that are ideally suited for solar, but for all the wrong reasons - namely extremely high energy needs for driving, heating, air conditioning etc.) And roofing all roads is not really an option. Some of them perhaps (and pa

    • Yeah, because the previous state was much better. That area was a military training ground of the red army. It couldn't be used because of remains (chemicals, hand grenades, amunition and other nice stuff), cleaning it was deemed too expensive. Now the area has been cleaned by the company which built that solar park. They have leased the area and intend to use it for 20 to 30 years for solar power. Then the panels will be removed and recycled.

      Oh, and it is indeed very friendly to the environment, as now the

  • We need to have a diversified energy matrix. For example, America is using around 40% coal, and thankfully, that will be below 33% within 5 years. However, much of the replacement is Natural Gas. What is needed is for us to make coal/NG be around 33% MAX, with Nukes around 33% MAX and likewise, the various AE around 33%. By doing this, we can limit damage from any one area.
    • by g8oz (144003)

      In America there is enough land that wind can do 25% and solar can do another 25%

      Wind is under a million per megawatt. Competitive with new natural gas or coal capacity - and without fuel input costs.

      Solar is dropping fast. First Solar says its manufacturing costs are $.73 a watt or $730,000 per megawatt. Don't know what the installation & profit margin is but the point is alternative energy has a bigger role to play than you might think.

      I see a lot of technological determinism on Slashdot. Talk about e

      • I keep hearing about these $1 per watt solar panels, but whenever I actually look at installed system costs they remain many times that. Combine that with a maybe 20% load factor, and that $5 per watt nuclear's suddenly not looking so bad. And that's before we even get into the costs of storage and backup to handle the intermittency.

        I don't see why plonking down 5 megawatts here and there is relevant when the extra capacity the world needs is more like hundreds of gigawatts.

      • by Jens Egon (947467)

        In America there is enough land that wind can do 25% and solar can do another 25%

        The USA could easily accomodate 100% solar in some corner of one of the desert states, there are other reasons why going fully solar is a bad short term solution, but lack of land is not one of them. Not even in Japan.

        In the long run solar under one form or another is likely to be as dominant an energy supply as fossil is today.

  • From what I gather from the media, Japan is rather overrun with monsters with tentacles and such.

New crypt. See /usr/news/crypt.

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