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Japan Power

Should Japan Restart More Nuclear Power Plants? (thebulletin.org) 313

Lasrick writes: Seth Baum, executive director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, writes in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that Japan should restart more of its nuclear reactors (the Sendai nuclear plant was restarted in August). The reason is simple, writes Baum: "Japan is now building 45 new coal power plants, but if it turned its nuclear power plants back on... it could cut coal consumption in half. And coal poses more health and climate change dangers than nuclear power."
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Should Japan Restart More Nuclear Power Plants?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you're going to ask us a question, make it a poll.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @10:07PM (#50778081) Homepage Journal

    Basically every option for them and their little fireball of an island chain are Bad Choices.

    Still, engineered and maintained properly, with no corner cutting, they'd be better served by nuclear.

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      I'm surprised given it's geography that Japan isn't a fantastic candidate for a combination of wind (onshore, and off), hydro, tidal, and geothermal.

      Anyone know why they're more interested in building coal than harnessing more of their renewable resources? Does Japan have masses of cheap coal or something? I'd have assumed it has to import a lot of it?

      I agree with you about nuclear over coal, but I'm struggling to see why Japan would need either. For such a high tech country it seems to be resorting to an i

      • by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @03:39AM (#50779317)

        They are 100% importers of their coal. However they have very good coal supply contracts with Australia which provide them with a cheap and reliable supply.

        The simple reason is that wind does not generate enough power. If they were to build out their entire wind potential they would have a max generating potential of 752gw. If we assumed favourable wind conditions you might get to 30% of that figure (that would make it one of the best performing in the world) so 225GW. Currently Japan has C250GW of installed generating capacity so there is basically no overhead if they went all wind and there would be a monumental capital cost to achieve it as 600GW is offshore.

        As for tidal there isn't currently a working production level tech that I am aware of. Hydro sits at around 6.6% of their electricity generation but it has been expensive, hence they are not building any more. And they have 18 geothermal plants currently but their contribution to the power grid is almost noise level.

        • If they were to build out their entire wind potential they would have a max generating potential of 752gw
          How do you come to that number?

          If we assumed favourable wind conditions you might get to 30% of that figure
          And how do you come to thatAs for tidal there isn't currently a working production level tech that I am aware of. Then I suggest to google. Perhaps Japan has no suitable places (which I doubt) ... however tidal plants we have since 50 years or longer.

          Bottom line the parents questions make sense.

          • Source for the capacity numbers are here - http://jwpa.jp/page_132_englis... [jwpa.jp]

            For the capacity figures there are heaps and heaps of examples. The highest ever capacity achieved by an installed turbine for a year is 59%, Ireland has the highest for a country at 21% and China's figures are just over 11%.

            Tidal - http://www.tidalelectric.com/h... [tidalelectric.com] - from reading this there are very very few installed tidal systems and those that exist are low output. They also seem to have significant environmental impacts. So

      • I'm surprised given it's geography that Japan isn't a fantastic candidate for a combination of wind (onshore, and off), hydro, tidal, and geothermal.

        Anyone know why they're more interested in building coal than harnessing more of their renewable resources? Does Japan have masses of cheap coal or something? I'd have assumed it has to import a lot of it?

        I agree with you about nuclear over coal, but I'm struggling to see why Japan would need either. For such a high tech country it seems to be resorting to an insanely low tech sub-optimal and dirty solution.

        You're assuming that these renewables are feasible options for a densely-packed high-power-usage country. Which they are not - the only places renewables are a significant proportion of power needed are the sparsely populated ones. Wind doesn't always blow. Solar doesn't shine when you need most power. Hydro-electric (the only one that is usable on-demand) requires lots of land in specific configurations.

        Renewable power is not magic, you can't just throw money at it and get what you want.

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @10:10PM (#50778093)

    We only get worked up about nuclear disasters because they're so unusual. Coal is a disaster in its normal operation [the9billion.com]!

    • Nuclear hits everybody, rich or poor. If you're even upper middle class you can easily avoid coal death by living in the suburbs.

      The trouble I have with nukes is that everyone in the world believes in the myth of gov't inefficiency. That means sooner or later a perfectly safe gov't run nuclear plant will either get turned over to a businessman who'll cut safety until there's an accident or we'll cut funding to the safety controls in the name of 'cutting waste and pork' until there's an accident. With co
      • Ya, all those corporate fat cats at Chernobyl cutting costs to line their pockets. If only it was run by the government
        • " or we'll cut funding to the safety controls in the name of 'cutting waste and pork' until there's an accident". Google the phrase "Starve the Beast" will ya?
          • by khallow ( 566160 )

            " or we'll cut funding to the safety controls in the name of 'cutting waste and pork' until there's an accident"

            Ok, which Russian bureaucrat said that?

      • "Nuclear hits everybody, rich or poor."

        That's right.

        "If you're even upper middle class you can easily avoid coal death by living in the suburbs. "

        That's very, very wrong because of the same reason the above is right.

        A Chernobyl-level accident impacts both rich and poor because of the vast area potentially involved but just the same happens about coal: it is in the air you breath even thousands of kilometers away from the source so, no you are not safe just moving to a different neighborhood.

        "The trouble I h

        • It was lack of oversight and funding combined with old tech and a profound lack of understanding of the risks due to a still very new technology.

          The exact same can be said about any large organization. The difference is that at least with gov't you take a good chunk of the profit motive out. Traditionally Gov't jobs don't pay well but are safe. You get good benefits and retirement. There are folks that want to change that so they can undermine the good gov't does. Google the phrase "Starve the Beast" an
          • by khallow ( 566160 )

            The difference is that at least with gov't you take a good chunk of the profit motive out.

            And of course, you think that is a bad thing.

            The way I see gov't, especially central gov't is this: It's a tool. A dangerous tool. But what other tool has the raw power to stand up to a mega corp?

            You do. Megacorps aren't that powerful. Stop buying their stuff. If one really, truly went beyond the pale, its employees could quickly sabotage it into non existence. This fear of business is profoundly misguided. And frankly, I think it's encouraged to deflect attention from government power grabs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tailhook ( 98486 )

        perfectly safe gov't run nuclear plant

        The worst reactor disaster our species has yet caused was the explosion and melt down of Chernobyl; designed by government researchers, built by government owned industry, operated by government employed staff and named after every intellectuals favorite opium dealer; V.I. Lenin.

        But don't let actual history impede your little world view. Go right on indulging the bullshit they trained you with.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by dunkelfalke ( 91624 )

          Actually, the Chernobyl power plant was built and operated by the closest match to regional private companies USSR had available at that time and not the usual Soviet nuclear industry supervisor (ministry of medium machine building).
          In fact, Andropov (in the 1970ies the director of KGB, later the ruler of USSR for about two years) wrote a report to the Soviet government in 1979 describing safety deficiencies and cutting corners during the construction of the power plant and specifically warned about a possi

  • Rubbish.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    Coal the only alternative?

    What about Geothermal Power [wikipedia.org] ?
    What about Wind Power [wikipedia.org]?
    What about wave power?

    Japan should take the lead from Germany who replaced all their nuclear power plants with renewables following the Fukushima disaster [theguardian.com]

  • What is under the sites, water? How deep, was the building foundations sunk or lowered. How deep was the original geological testing? Underground structures could have been missed in the decades old for profit rush to get the site started.
    Whats the on site back up power like? Low level backup fuel tanks placed near the ocean or water? Poor placement of back up electrical systems to power the site when all normal connections fail. Can expected flooding get to all the vital sites?
    The ability to cool, co
  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EmeraldBot ( 3513925 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @11:18PM (#50778365)
    Speaking as someone who currently lives in Japan (for work, I'm not Japanese), I think they should. Japan has a ridiculous amount of people in a very small space - Tokyo has is only 75% as large as New York City, but has almost twice as many people. [wikipedia.org] The amount of coal needed to provide enough electricity for them would absolutely pollute the area around them and render it inhabitable - and in a country where habitable land is so scarce, and with such a nice natural climate that attracts a huge amount of tourists, ruining it would not be a good idea. So long as they invest properly in their nuclear power plants and ensure they are well maintained and regulated, they have virtually no environmental impact, and they can provide absolutely insane amounts of power for a very low price. If they act cut the nuclear power like Germany did (which I think was an idiotic move, but I digress), they are going to have a very, very, very hard time supplying enough power for everyone, and if they do it in coal, that will be a disaster. I'll finish with a nice little graph: what do you think? [the9billion.com]
  • by Noble713 ( 3516573 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @11:56PM (#50778517)
    I'm pro-nuclear (generally speaking). I live in Japan.

    I don't think turning on a bunch of outdated reactors that sit on one of the most earthquake and tsunami-prone areas of the world is a good idea.

    How about replacing the existing reactors with a smaller number of very modern Westinghouse AP1000s? A far better way to spend billions of dollars than the stupid 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I think this is an acceptable medium-range solution until someone demonstrates a commercial 1GW thorium plant.
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @01:48AM (#50778961)
    The geek's technical and ecological arguments count for nothing if you have lost faith in those who were responsible for the safety of nuclear power both in private industry and in government.
    • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
      Only in the risk crazy western countries. China has under construction as much reactor as are already operational...

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