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Japan Earth Power Politics

Fukushima Disaster Leads Japan To Backpedal On Emissions Pledge 274

Posted by timothy
from the feeling-electricity's-pull dept.
mdsolar writes with this excerpt from the New York Times: "Japan took a major step back on Friday from earlier pledges to slash its greenhouse gas emissions, saying a shutdown of its nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster had made previous targets unattainable. The announcement cast a shadow over international talks underway in Warsaw aimed at fashioning a new global pact to address the threats of a changing climate. Under its new goal, Japan, one of the world's top polluters, would still seek to reduce its current emissions. But it would release 3 percent more greenhouse gases in 2020 than it did in 1990, rather than the 6 percent cut it originally promised or the 25 percent reduction it promised two years before the 2011 nuclear disaster."
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Fukushima Disaster Leads Japan To Backpedal On Emissions Pledge

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  • by tlambert (566799) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:26AM (#45447161)

    Nuclear energy reduces greenhouse emissions, according to Japan.

    OK, so is the most important thing to be anti-nuclear, or to actually save the environment?

    • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:35AM (#45447177) Homepage

      One important thing would had been competent people handling the plant.

      • by FlyHelicopters (1540845) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:54AM (#45447215)
        It would help if it wasn't a 40 year old reactor design.

        Often missed when talking about nuclear reactors among the general media is that most are old and few new designs have been built.

        We have newer, safer, designs. We should, quite frankly, scrap the 40 year old reactors and replace them all with something much newer and much safer.

        And yes, hire people who know what they are doing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          We have newer, safer, designs.

          The newer designs are not that different though. They are better, but can still fail in similar ways if emergency cooling is unavailable for some reason. They are still vulnerable to extreme lateral motion from an earthquake.

          And yes, hire people who know what they are doing.

          Can you guarantee that for the entire life of the plant? Actually I'd question if you can guarantee that even for the building stage or first month of operation. Nuclear is expensive and the desire to drive down costs and maximize profit will always make safety considerations secondary.

          • by ultranova (717540)

            Can you guarantee that for the entire life of the plant?

            Certainty is not the realm of mere mortals. The question is, which is likely to cause least damage: nuclear power, coal, or deindustrialization?

            Thus far, the "green" solution seems to be picking coal and pretending you'll switch to renewables - any decade now.

      • by khallow (566160) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @05:44AM (#45447331)

        One important thing would had been competent people handling the plant.

        This has never been shown to be an actual problem at Fukushima. I've complained about this attitude since shortly after the disaster happened. Where's the evidence that TEPCO acted incompetently? Instead, I see now as I did back when, that TEPCO recovered well from a huge disaster.

        The Fukushima plant was exposed due to one of the largest earthquakes of modern history to conditions beyond its design specifications and it behaved as intended with a contained meltdown of several reactors.

        TEPCO then acted to prevent the situation from getting worse. They've since expended considerable effort to clean up their mess and take responsibility for their actions (which includes compensating those who have been harmed by the Fukushima accident).

        So where is this alleged evidence of incompetence?

        • by MrKaos (858439) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @11:31AM (#45448385) Journal

          One important thing would had been competent people handling the plant.

          This has never been shown to be an actual problem at Fukushima. I've complained about this attitude since shortly after the disaster happened. Where's the evidence that TEPCO acted incompetently? Instead, I see now as I did back when, that TEPCO recovered well from a huge disaster.

          The evidence to the contrary has been examined by appropriately legislated independent Japanese bodies. You just refuse to recognize it as such, your complaints are, therefore, irrelevant.

          The Fukushima plant was exposed due to one of the largest earthquakes of modern history to conditions beyond its design specifications and it behaved as intended with a contained meltdown of several reactors.

          TEPCO re-rated the plant to 600Gal, the plant was only ever exposed to 150Gal during the Earthquake, so clearly this is an incorrect statement.

          TEPCO then acted to prevent the situation from getting worse. They've since expended considerable effort to clean up their mess and take responsibility for their actions (which includes compensating those who have been harmed by the Fukushima accident).

          Your posts come across as if you are you an apologist for TEPCO or the Nuclear industry. Are you in any way related to, paid for by or sponsored in any way by the Nuclear industry or TEPCO in a professional or other capacity?

          So where is this alleged evidence of incompetence?

          I ask again. Do you have evidence of incompetence?

          Yes. The answers you seek are contained in the official report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission [google.com.au] prepared for the The National Parliment (Diet) of Japan, which cites (amongst others);

          • a multitude of errors and willful negligence that left the Fukushima plant unprepared for the events of March 11
          • serious deficiencies in the response to the accident by TEPCO, regulators and the government
          • TEPCO must undergo dramatic corporate reform, including governance and risk management and information disclosure—with safety as the sole priority.

          The most telling citation I can provide you from the official report is how the nuclear industry managed to avoid absorbing the critical lessons learned from Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. I'm sure you've sen that before. [slashdot.org]

          • by khallow (566160)
            Let's look at the complaints from the only actual evidence you gave, the report by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission:

            The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nationâ(TM)s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly âoemanmade.â We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual. (see Recommendation 1)

            They then give a bunch of failings of the Japanese nuclear regulatory agency. One particular gem is the claim that in 2006, all the relevant parties "knew" that tsunamis could be much worse than was originally forecast. And nobody seems to bring up the point that the plant was scheduled to be decommissioned in 2011.

            Even if we grant that dubious claim (sinc

          • by khallow (566160)

            The most telling citation I can provide you from the official report is how the nuclear industry managed to avoid absorbing the critical lessons learned from Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. I'm sure you've sen that before. [slashdot.org]

            That thread is instructive. My immedicate response to that claim was:

            If someone does something incredibly stupid, like drive drunk and slam a car into a tree, what is there to learn? Don't be stupid?

            What lessons were there to learn from Chernobyl? Japan didn't have reactors as unsafe as those used at Chernobyl. They didn't do stupid stuff nor were inclined to. They didn't fail to warn the public nor were inclined to.

            There wasn't anything going on that was dangerous or stupid enough to where lessons from Chernobyl could have applied.

            Nothing has changed to make that comment any less relevant today. And that's when I predicted:

            March 24. Bet you that's the date when all these problems started getting better.

            I was right on the money while you are still digging that Chernobyl hole over two years later. And my summary still holds:

            In summary, I have shown that TEPCO, the owners of the Fukushima 1 nuclear plant, implemented safety systems and measures to mitigate the harm from earthquake and tsunami damage and that that these systems actually did mitigate the harm from a very large earthquake. Yet you continue your ignorant libel in the face of these facts. In your stunted view, not having high enough specs for safety systems is equivalent to all the crazy stuff that the Russians did at Chernobyl.

            It's one thing to act on emotion a few weeks after a major disaster. It's a much more pathetic thing to be still parroting the same failed ideas over two years later. You've had plenty of time to correct the error of your think

    • by FlyHelicopters (1540845) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @05:02AM (#45447233)
      Sadly, from everything I've heard from "environmentalists" for the past 20 years, they seem to be against almost everything that might do something bad at some point.

      Look, I don't knock the idea, harming the enviroment is bad, polution is bad, and there is a reasonable chance that all this CO2 is bad.

      Ok, fair enough. But the "environmentalists" are against coal, they are against natural gas, they are against oil, they are against nuclear, they are against... well, everything.

      Are they expecting us to all go back and live in caves?

      Solar and wind are nice, they help, but they aren't going to become our primary power source anytime soon (and probably not ever).

      So what then? What exactly can we use to power our world?

      • by livingboy (444688) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @07:50AM (#45447613)

        It might surprise you, that some environmentalists are engineers. I did take one environmental course during my B. of Science studies, that was toughest course I did during my studies.

        On that course I learned that there are alternatives, all alternatives have their own problems, but solutions exist.

        Main alternative is reducing power consumption on consumer products, then comes renewable energy sources and hybrid power production.

        • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Sunday November 17, 2013 @09:57AM (#45447969) Homepage Journal

          Are they expecting us to all go back and live in caves?

          Main alternative is reducing power consumption

          To the GP, yes. That is apparently the plan.

          I think it is ethical to identify and mitigate "flagrantly wasteful" misuses of power and abuses of environmental resources. But beyond that, there are ethical and intellectual problems with some environmentalists

          People need to realize a few things

          The ideal amount of pollution is not "none". No pollution necessarily implies no resource usage.

          To maintain a quality of life better than Ogg the caveman, we need to continue using resources to improve our comfort, safety, health, etc. Whether that is cutting down trees or burning coal, we need to continue doing both, because people want shelter, heat, and electricity.

          To develop the quality of life we have now, we had to use resources and create pollution. People who advocate for sharp declines in pollution and resource use necessarily advocate stopping human progress.

          Given how much suffering there is left in the world, suffering that requires our hard work, investment, and energy to address, people who ask us to stop resource consumption and power production are essentially anti-humanists. They, whether they know it or not, ask for more suffering, less comfort, and a reduced quality of life, for most people.

          Perhaps there is a deeper underlying question to address.

          What is the point of environmentalism? What is the goal of humanity?

          Environmentalists often talk of "saving the earth". Sometimes, they say this in terms of "its the only one we have" and sometimes they are more honest and sinister when they explain that the Earth deserves to live long after humanity has died.

          These latter type disgust me. We'll not discuss them further.

          These former type are correct, but are missing the point.

          While it is true that Earth is currently the only home we have, in my view it should be the goal of humanity to sustainably and indefinitely move beyond the earth to other worlds.

          That is a significant undertaking; not everyone believes it is possible. I do.

          We know that saving the earth is impossible. And our contributions to its demise are finally measurable, but are unlikely to be the fatal wound.

          At some point, we will take a hit from a comet, meteor, alien race, etc, and it will end most or all human life on our home planet.

          If we have not used our resources quickly and wisely enough BEFORE then to allow us to have permanently escaped the Earth, we have failed.

          I think we should accelerate our usage of resources and production of energy, with a goal towards escaping this rock. Note that I said "a goal". Certainly making life better for people here who are here and alive today is ALSO a goal, and that also requires energy and resource consumption.

          Obviously, building nuclear plants that are cleaner and longer lasting is a better way to do this than building more unscrubbed coal plants, but we need to accept that "more power production" is a necessary reality of the human condition, and get on with the show.

          There are still people out there with no light and no heat. There are still people who die every year from flooding and basic sanitation issues.

          Will you deny them new power plants when they develop enough to desire them?

          It is horrendously myopic for people living the luxury of western lives to look around themselves, see that they are finally comfortable, and then demand that the world stop innovating and using resources to improve itself.

          Finally, here's the bottom line about nuclear power safety: more people die _every year_ from petroleum drilling accidents than will ever get cancer from Fukushima emissions.

          There has been ONE large scale nuclear incident with high loss of life, and it was in the despotic Soviet Union. How many people do you think died in the Soviet Union from coal mine collap

          • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

            the ideal amount of pollution is negative pollution that actually cleans things up instead of making things dirty! like recycling. or wearing clothing from reclaimed fibers. think outside the box, man! It's a wonderful place to be.

            • Recycling is great, reusing is great.

              Neither really solves the problem. Industry and HVAC are where most of our power consumption goes, that and transportation. Moving stuff around takes energy.

              • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

                Did you ever think that maybe if we didn't "FlyHelicopters" we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place?

                • Did you ever think that maybe if we didn't "FlyHelicopters" we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place?

                  Sure, and if we all died tomorrow, the Earth would perhaps be a cleaner place.

                  With of course no one around to enjoy it, so what would be the point?

                  There is simply no other way to power airplanes and helicopters other than with fuel. Jet turbines can be powered with biodiesel, which helps, but has its own issues, and would be interesting to try and produce on the scale the airlines require.

                  Moving people and stuff around consumes energy.

                  • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

                    why don't you use the original hydrogen powered vehicle - zeppelins! they could go across the ocean and back.

        • I am all for reducing power consumption. That is a great goal.

          However, it isn't the main solution. You cannot cut the consumption to zero, and even if you could, it wouldn't make all that big of a difference.

          Power is used far more for manufacturing, HVAC, etc than for consumer goods.

          Producing cheap, clean power is the solution, sadly we are a long way from that because some people are opposed to anything new.

      • by cmdr_tofu (826352)

        hydro, geothermal, wave, leaf (and other biomass) gassification, biogas, biodiesel (not ethanol)
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_energy [wikipedia.org]

        It is false to say there is a technology problem. It's more of a political problem. Indeed with simply changes (proper insulation, solar water heater switch in summer, requiring new buildings have south facing windows), we could get dramatic energy savings.

        Those who the most powerful economic interests in the world do not benefit from deterring from business as usu

        • South facing windows? You mean so we have to run the HVAC harder in the summer to keep the building cold?

          Solar water heaters are nice, but expensive. My existing hot water tanks are half the price of a solar water system. My monthly natural gas bill to heat them is less over 10 years than the higher price of the solar system.

          Most of the ideas toss out there aren't very realistic, you can talk about insulation all you want, but the millions of existing buildings won't be upgraded. There are 20 year o

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Are they expecting us to all go back and live in caves?

        Not caves but... well, most environmentalists don't want to raise the average to modern standards. Looking at the current estimates the average CO2 emissions in tons/capita is:
        World: 4.9 (2011)
        EU: 8.6 (2011)
        US:16.4 (2012)

        So if everyone were to pollute as much as the US our total emissions would over triple. People like to blame China but they're "only" up to 7.1 tons/capita, they're lower than the EU they just happen to be a billion people plus. And there's huge countries like India with 1.6 tons/capita tha

        • All interesting bits of info, but it misses the grand point. Maybe you get it, but a lot of people don't.

          You say the world does 4.9 tons per person.

          Lets say, just for fun, that we can get the world down to 2.5 tons per person. Lets say that we spend a large amount of money and put solar everywhere, wind farms everywhere, make electronics more power efficient, and spent a huge sum of taxpayer dollars to replace old and inefficient HVAC systems and other items with new energy efficient systems.

          Wonderf

        • Honestly, I don't know what the f*ck Americans are doing to have almost twice as much emissions as here in Europe.

          There are several reasons. First, our energy costs are lower, so we can more easily afford to use power.

          Second, we tend to live in larger houses, drive larger cars (and trucks), and in general consume more "stuff".

          I'm above average in my CO2 production, to be sure, but I live in a 350 square meter house, drive a truck that gets 5 kilometers to the liter (or 20 L/100 if you prefer that metric), and I have 8 tons of air conditioning on my house (I have no idea how that converts to Europe's measurements)

      • Everything that follows is personal opinion, so I can't provide an citations. Sorry.

        Are they expecting us to all go back and live in caves?

        Only a distinct minority. As with any movement, there is an extreme that recommends an extreme action. These people understand the physics and know there is no replacement for these power sources, but they don't care. Any cost is acceptable.

        There is another group in the movement that I describe as the "corporate conspiracy" crowd. In my experience this group tends to blame corporate greed for the bad outcomes with regards to

        • ^ You sir, deserve about a thousand mod points for that post! Frankly, I couldn't have said it better myself. +100 to you!
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Ah, the dreaded "enviromentalist" (scare quotes mandatory). One of the most often abused straw men.

        I did a parody post about a "nuke-u-like fan" a while back but I can't be bothered to repost it here.

        • :) The quotes are there for anyone who is against something without having a counter proposal to offer.

          Just saying, "no nuclear", or "no coal", without having another option, is just someone who is not adding to the conversation.

          When they reply, "oh, we just need more solar", then I know they are nuts, because that isn't a baseline power solution. It is too transient, too expensive, and doesn't produce enough power per sqm to power the world.

          The only solar that I can see that would do so is solar in

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            In the short term we will have to rely on cleaner coal with carbon capture. In the medium to long term solar and wind with batteries, geothermal, wave, ocean thermal etc. are the best solution.

    • by jcr (53032)

      Maybe they're both less important than not freezing in the dark.

      -jcr

      • by jbeaupre (752124)

        Maybe they're both less important than not freezing in the dark.

        The silver lining to global warming: not freezing in the dark.

    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @05:21AM (#45447289) Homepage Journal
      Nuclear does emit fewer greenhouse gasses than either coal or oil. Energy generation isn't usually a dichotomy between nuclear vs. coal, but for Japan, who had to shut down all of its nuclear plants in a hurry, it basically is. The only way they could compensate for that loss in capacity in such a short time is oil/coal. Obviously poor planning, but thats where it is at, not a lot you can do about it now.
    • by jonbryce (703250)

      Japan is a democracy. If the people in that country don't want another nuclear power station, then it won't be built.

  • by anubi (640541) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:42AM (#45447195) Journal
    Anyone watching what happened must be aware the Japanese took one helluva hit.

    I, for one, am extremely impressed with the Japanese, making do despite such a setback.

    My take: Salute them and cut them some slack. A lot of slack.
    • by Xest (935314)

      They ran a dangerously unsafe reactor, protected to a size of tsunami and magnitude earthquake less than is possible in the area, and then completely and utterly fucked up the aftermath.

      Now following that they want to make the whole situation worse by not doing as much to reduce CO2 emissions, which don't just contribute to global warming but go hand in hand with burning of fossil fuels that have been linked to increased incidences of things like asthma and other illnesses.

      I don't blame all the Japanese of

      • They ran a dangerously unsafe reactor, protected to a size of tsunami and magnitude earthquake less than is possible in the area, and then completely and utterly fucked up the aftermath.

        To be fair they are not the only ones, and the international atomic energy community was praising their safety up until it happened. In other words it isn't just them, it's a world-wide and industry-wide problem of over-confidence and failure to appreciate risk when profits are threatened.

        Fukushima shouldn't have even happened if they at least had a sane policy on both ageing nuclear reactors

        Name one country that did. Now Germany and a few others are ditching nuclear, but only after Fukushima gave them that wake-up call.

        • by Xest (935314)

          Countries like Germany and the UK don't suffer 80ft Tsunamis and magnitude 9 earthquakes, Japan does. That alone was reason enough for them to have put a bit more effort into protecting them than the UK or Germany need to.

      • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @08:08AM (#45447679) Homepage

        The final estimates is that it was a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, it's on the top 5 list of recorded earthquakes and the others were in Chile, Alaska, Sumatra and Kamchatka, Russia. It tops the list of property damage by earthquake by a factor of two. If this had been a "normal" 8.0 earthquake (which is an amplitude 10 times smaller and 31 times less energy) we almost certainly wouldn't be having this discussion. It's like the engineers of the WTC towers, they had simulated a small aircraft flying into the towers but not a 747. Yes, in perfect retrospect of course it was too little but I think you're being more than a little unfair.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          There were safety systems in place to prevent aircraft flying into the WTC. It was known that such large earthquakes had happened, and that such large tsunami had happened. They were considered once in a century events, a statistical certainty to happen eventually. There is no excuse for not planning for them.

        • They did not build the seawall to protection level suggested by their own geologists. They created a 'backup' system that had obvious holes in it. The groundwork had indeed been done (pardon the pun) to determine the worst credible ground / water movement. They knew there were historical tsuanamis who's water lines were higher than the plant could handle.

          TEPCO just couldn't be arsed to spend the money to build the system up because 'it wasn't likely to happen'.

          Yeah, the engineers did their job. Managem

        • by Xest (935314)

          Nonsense. If a magnitude 9.0 earthquake is even a possibility in an area that's geologically susceptible to earthquakes then you need to cater to that possibility, if you don't you're simply asking for it when it does happen - this very event highlights that fact. It's not like it was even unprecedented, there are records of a similar magnitude earthquake in pretty much the exact same area, so effectively they must've said, oh well, it was 1000 years ago last time so it'll never happen again. Can we add tha

    • by greg_barton (5551)

      Does increasing emissions cut the world any slack?

  • Carbon politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tailhook (98486) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @05:15AM (#45447271)

    Australia just elected a government on an unapologetic anti-carbon tax platform.

    France has thousands of truckers shutting down the major roads protesting carbon taxes, and the people support them widely.

    Japan is all done indulging carbon caps; reality has imposed itself and they have other priorities now.

    I don't know whether our CO2 is going to Venus the Earth. And neither do you. What I am absolutely certain of is that we're going to find out — people will not subject themselves to energy poverty and they are no longer in doubt about the consequences of carbon caps and carbon taxes.

    • Australia just elected a government on an unapologetic anti-carbon tax platform.

      The new government has exactly the same emissions target as the old one. They just plan to do it in a less competent fashion.

    • Re:Carbon politics (Score:4, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) * <(mojo) (at) (world3.net)> on Sunday November 17, 2013 @08:06AM (#45447671) Homepage

      All your examples are short sighted. In the case of Japan they put too much faith in nuclear and didn't have enough diversity when it failed. In the other cases countries are having short term economic problems due to the lingering financial crisis and high cost of living, and carbon reduction is an easy target for politicians and newspapers.

      The irony is that these two factors should re-enforce just how important carbon reduction is. Forget climate change, countries need diverse and distributed energy sources that are not reliant on one dangerous technology or resources from other countries that might become hard to get (coal, gas, oil). From a purely economic point of view it makes sense, to protect energy supplies and dampen sudden price rise shocks.

      • by chihowa (366380) *

        I totally agree that we need more diversity in energy generation.

        In the case of Japan they put too much faith in nuclear and didn't have enough diversity when it failed.

        This is a misreading of the situation, though. "Nuclear" didn't fail; a single plant failed due to massive mismanagement and a huge natural disaster. More mismanagement led to shutting down all of the other reactors without a solid transition plan.

        When a hydroelectric dam fails, nobody shuts down all other dams. When a fly ash reservoir spills and wipes out towns and huge areas of land, nobody shuts down all other coal plants. Because that is

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          "Nuclear" didn't fail; a single plant failed due to massive mismanagement and a huge natural disaster.

          Nuclear did fail. The flaws discovered in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster have kept every other nuclear plant in the country out of operation. It isn't clear if any design of reactor can be guaranteed to be safe in the event of a large earthquake based on what we know now. More over it is also clear that even the world's third largest economy, rated higher than the US by the in the Rule of Law report for regulation, can't operate it safely.

          When a hydroelectric dam fails, nobody shuts down all other dams.

          Because the failure tends not to be systematic or inherent i

    • by delt0r (999393)

      I don't know whether our CO2 is going to Venus the Earth.... What I am absolutely certain of is that we're going to find out

      Yes we do idoit and not we won't. Venus has an atmosphere more than 50 thicker and its almost 100% CO2. To even think that, is to show such gross ignorance of AGW and its predictions that you are a joke. I bet you brought a boat after Water World.

  • by ingulsrud (568946) <joel@thirdculture.com> on Sunday November 17, 2013 @05:19AM (#45447281)
    Regardless of the safety of modern reactor designs, Japan's seismic instability and high population density makes it an inherently inappropriate location for nuclear power plants.

    The back-pedalling on previous emission pledges and blaming it on idled reactors is all about convincing the domestic electorate to approve nuclear power. The LDP is responsible for putting Japan on the path of nuclear power dependency in the first place, and now that they are back in power they want this particularly bad idea resuscitated.

    Japan has a long way to go before exhausting its latent solar, wind, geothermal and conservation potential. With plenty of industrial capacity to embark on leading the world in non-nuclear, non-fossil-fuel energy infrastructure, the LDPs obsession with nuclear is a clear sign of their lack of wisdom and cozy relationship with the like of Mitsubishi.
    • by Luckyo (1726890) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @05:39AM (#45447325)

      I'm yet to see any evidence of this "latent solar, wind, geothermal and conservation potential" not being thoroughly exhausted as far as meaningful numbers go. Japanese went through amazing campaign of conservation after the tsunami and shutdown of all nuclear plants in the country in the middle of very hot summer after it was made "cool" (in Japanese way) to conserve energy. It still wasn't enough to prevent occasional brownouts.Fact is, you need base power, especially when you're industrialized country with a lot of heavy industry. There's not much conservation potential beyond what was done back then. Wind and solar offer zero solution here.

      The location is appropriate as long as plant is up to date and not a 60s design. If anything it proved just how safe plants are, that the plant designed for magnitude 7 took a hit from magnitude 9 which is a hundred times stronger and still survived it with no problems. It took a followup tsunami that killed over 30.000 and devastated a huge area to kill it.

      I do see the typical "industry is BAAAAAD" claim here repeated a lot though as that is the main source of "nuclear dependency". LDP was specifically responsible for industrializing Japan, uplifting it to its current level of wealth from poor post war state. Calling this "bad" is nothing short of treason against humanity.

      Reality is, Japan has a grand two options for sufficient base power generation. Burning coal/carbohydrates or nuclear. It has unsuitable geography for hydro, geothermal could increase earthquake risk even further which is a far greater risk to human health than nuclear and other options are too marginal in terms of power produced. And right now, with nuclear being off the table because of hysteria, they're stuck with coal. A lot of which is older coal plants that emit significant SO2 and NOx, which is far more dangerous to human health in short term than Fukushima. Not to even speak of long term greenhouse gas CO2 consequences.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <(mojo) (at) (world3.net)> on Sunday November 17, 2013 @08:22AM (#45447707) Homepage

        Japan has enough off-shore wind to power the entire country at all times, if enough turbines were build. Of course no-one is suggesting that as there would be other issues, but off-shore wind is a massive resource for Japan. In case you were wondering, the Kamisu offshore wind farm was not damaged by the tsunami despite being hit by it directly.

        Offshore wind can provide base load. As long as it is distributed over a wide geographical area you can guarantee a certain amount of generation at any time.

        Japan doubled its solar output this year alone. There is a vast amount of untapped energy there, and increasingly it is being paired with battery packs so that the energy can be used at night.

        Energy efficiency is also a big deal. There are lots of new technologies, like LED lights that automatically set their brightness to maintain a constant ambient level in an office. Blinds that automatically rotate their blades to reflect as much light and heat into the building as possible are also becoming more common.

        the plant designed for magnitude 7 took a hit from magnitude 9 which is a hundred times stronger and still survived it with no problems.

        Actually no, it was damaged by the earthquake which was considerably weaker than magnitude 9 by the time it reached Fukushima. It wasn't known at the time due to the tsunami damage and radioactive leaks making inspection impossible, but some of the emergency cooling systems were damaged by the earthquake and wouldn't have worked even if the tsunami hadn't arrived. How well the plant could have survived that damage depends on what the operators did, so not good odds.

        Fault lines have been discovered right under some reactors using new technology to locate them which was not available when the plants were first built. It is doubtful that any design could safely survive so much lateral force or ground liquification.

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by Luckyo (1726890)

          1. Offshore wind cannot provide base load without investments that would likely bankrupt the country. If it can and you have means to do so, you should patent these asap. You are going to be a guaranteed multi-millionaire. Since you are posting here about it, I'm assuming that you're just regurgitating same naive talking points that much of green movement likes to use.
          2. Doubling something marginal isn't hard. Japan could have increased it ten times and it would have still remained a marginal power generati

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Offshore wind cannot provide base load without investments that would likely bankrupt the country. If it can and you have means to do so, you should patent these asap. You are going to be a guaranteed multi-millionaire. Since you are posting here about it, I'm assuming that you're just regurgitating same naive talking points that much of green movement likes to use.

            Japan already leads the world in the development and manufacture of sodium sulphur batteries which solve this problem. Since the rest of your post is based on faulty assumptions I won't bother replying to it.

        • by Solandri (704621)

          Japan has enough off-shore wind to power the entire country at all times, if enough turbines were build. Of course no-one is suggesting that as there would be other issues, but off-shore wind is a massive resource for Japan.

          You are aware that per MWh generated, more people have been killed from falling while maintaining wind turbines than have been killed due to nuclear power accidents? If "Japan's seismic instability and population density make it an inherently inappropriate location for nuclear power pl

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            You are aware that per MWh generated, more people have been killed from falling while maintaining wind turbines than have been killed due to nuclear power accidents?

            Do you have a citation for that?

            Even if it were true, the damage due to failing turbines is nothing compared to Fukushima alone. 50 trillion yen or more, hundreds of thousands of people affected, whole towns lost.

            If "Japan's seismic instability and population density make it an inherently inappropriate location for nuclear power plants" as GP said, then the height of wind turbines makes them an inherently inappropriate location for machinery which needs to be maintained.

            In fact no turbines fell over during the earthquake and tsunami. I'm not aware of any even being damaged. That includes the offshore ones that were hit directly by it.

            You'd need to replace it with something on the order of ten thousand 2 MW wind turbines.

            Current generation turbines are about 7MW, and you would need around 650 to replace Fukushima Daiichi. That would be possible with o

      • by nojayuk (567177) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @09:05AM (#45447829)

        A few corrections:

        Fukushima Daiichi took a magnitude 7+ Richter hit from the Great Tohoku earthquake, it was magnitude 9 at the epicentre out at sea. The plant's buildings got through that shock pretty well though (there may have been some damage to some internal equipment in the reactor buildings, it's too difficult to inspect them properly at the moment). The reactors at Onagawa further up the coast and closer to the epicentre rode out the earthquake and tsunami safely with no problems.

        The tsunami killed about 20,000 people, not 30,000. Nearly all of them died because the towns and cities along the Tohoku coast weren't as well protected from the tsunami as the Fukushima Daiichi plant and other nuclear plants like Onagawa were.

        Japan is currently burning mostly natural gas for its electricity generating needs. It has to import all of its fossil fuels and NG is as easy to transport and handle as coal and burns a lot cleaner. It's still releasing a lot of CO2 and causing an increase in smog and air pollution. Efforts are being made to bring about a dozen reactors back online this winter, whether that happens or not is in the lap of the gods.

        • by Shakrai (717556) *

          It has to import all of its fossil fuels and NG is as easy to transport and handle as coal and burns a lot cleaner

          Easy to transport? Sure, when it's produced domestically, or imported from countries you share a land border with. Neither applies for Japan though, she has to import all of her NG as LNG [wikipedia.org], which is a royal PITA to put it mildly. You don't need hyper-specialized port facilities (and huge investments in security) to import coal.

          Not saying that coal is a better energy choice, just that it's a lot easier to handle when being exported/imported across oceans.

          • by nojayuk (567177)

            Japan has been importing LNG for decades now and has the specialised ports to handle large quantities of it; the Chiba oil and gas terminal near Tokyo is one of them. It suffered major damage and fires during the earthquake but was speedily brought back into service.

            Coal is about half the energy of LNG tonne for tonne. TEPCO generates about 40% of Japanese electricity and they are importing about 5 million tonnes of coal a year and about 24 million tonnes of LNG to burn in their fossil-fuel power stations.

      • by haruchai (17472)

        "Unsuitable geography for hydro"??
        Which Japan are you talking about? The one with 27GW of installed capacity that produces more electricity from this source than Sweden?

    • by Splab (574204)

      Nuclear power as it is today is inherently unsafe, however, there are lots of nuclear alternatives that aren't problematic during major earthquakes and tsunamis; they do however, require people to actually get educated about the subject instead of running around screaming the sky is falling at the mention of nuclear.

  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @10:07AM (#45448019) Homepage Journal
    There are a couple of big ways in which nuclear power does a bad job on greenhouse gas emissions. First, it is expensive and slow. So much so that its opportunity cost is bloated and when effort is ill spent on nuclear power, alternatives which are faster, cheaper and better are hindered. http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-Center/Library/E09-01_NuclearPowerClimateFixOrFolly [rmi.org]

    Second, as we are seeing here, one accident can lead to a massive pullback from nuclear power, both in the affected country and around the world. Even France has announced a planned pullback. When the pullback is rapid, then relic fossil fuel plants rather than new clean energy replacements are pulled into service to make up the difference in generation. This makes nuclear power not just a slow response to climate change, but a retrograde response since these bad accidents are inevitable.

    There are other ways it has a bad influence as well, such as pretending to be a silver bullet to the adolescent mind for example, so much time is wasted on fantasy scenarios. But these two big ones are bad enough.
    • by chihowa (366380) *

      So, because people make poor decisions (poorly planned massive pullbacks) out of hysteria caused by anti-nuclear sentiment, nuclear is bad? That's a little circular isn't it?

      Inevitable bad accidents in nuclear (which you can count on one hand and have killed fewer people than wind turbine servicing) are responsible for the move back to fossil fuels (which has orders of magnitude more "inevitable bad accidents" and kills many more people)? Don't pretend that this isn't what you want. Instead of steady progre

  • 5% before 1990s emission. Mainly through replacing coal electricity with gas electricity. And bit from increased auto efficiency.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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