Would closing down Japan's nuclear energy plants solve - well, anything?
Tokyo at night.
Supplying the same amount of electricity by oil, for example, would increase oil imports by about 62 million metric tons per year, or about 1.25 million barrels per day,” says Toufiq Siddiqi, a researcher with the nonprofit East-West Institute. He adds that at the current price of oil per barrel (roughly $100), switching out nuclear for oil would cost Japan upwards of $46 billion per year. “Further, it would take almost a decade to build enough new oil, coal or natural gas-fired power plants to provide the equivalent amount of electricity, and tens of billions of dollars per year would be required to do so,” he concludes.Which, given what we know so far about the events at Fukushima, seems unnecessary. Although Siddiqi doesn't mention it - the article does, a little later- his selections for energy replacements would add tremendous amounts of bad emissions to the atmosphere.
Factoring in that it would take decades to ramp up capacity on alternative renewable energy sources—right now hydropower accounts for three percent of Japanese energy usage and other renewable sources like solar and wind only one percent—and that Japan must import just about all its fossil fuels, it becomes obvious that the country will need to rely on nuclear power for some time to come, despite the risks.Although the tone of the article is that Japan is trapped by nuclear energy, the plain truth of the matter is that Japan is dealing with the issues brought forward by Fukushima and by all accounts to date will continue apace. It's really a matter of choice - as Germany has recently shown, and we'll see how that goes - and Japan, recognizing that more can be done to make the plants safer, is making it.
Tokyo at night.