Skip to main content

Ironies in Germany and Japan – and Reopening Ohi

JAPAN-DISASTER-ACCIDENT-NUCLEARA little irony – and a touch of tunnel vision:

With audacious hypocrisy, American pro-nuclear pundits have been indulging in the familiar sport of losers – the relentless bashing of the more successful.

This should pique our interest. Bashing the more successful is a regular sport over here.

With nuclear energy rapidly losing favor around the globe, the industry’s boosters have taken to blaming countries that have rejected it for worsening climate change. Top of the target list? Germany, which has vowed to generate 80-100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050; and Japan, which chose this month not to restart the last of its 54 nuclear reactors.

Of course, Germany still has some functioning nuclear plants. Japan does not currently.

The accusation that these countries are worsening climate change is pretty rich coming from US commentators.  By any measure – whether calculating total CO2 emissions or per capita – the US is one of the worst offenders on the planet.

Oh, that’s it. The tunnel vision part comes in here, as the assumption is that it’s all about electricity generation. It’s not – cars and animals do an awful lot of emitting and we have a lot of both in the United States. It’s not always about the electricity.

And the irony? Germany is currently replacing lost nuclear energy with – nuclear energy. France made about $400 million from Germany in the last nine months by selling it electricity – generated largely by nuclear energy.

And Japan? Well, it is importing a lot of fossil fuels now and hoping it can keep the lights on this summer. But really, while pundits may have dinged them on carbon emissions – the real problem is the economic impact.

Shutting down nuclear power permanently would reduce economic output by 2.5 percent per year -- equivalent of over 14 trillion yen -- over the next decade.

Factory output would probably fall 2.4 percent on month-on-month in July 2012 and 1.2 percent in August.

I’m cherry picking here – there are mitigating factors – but there are no mitigating factors to this one:

Power generation costs would rise by over 3 trillion yen ($38 billion) per year if Japan replaced nuclear energy with thermal power generation. Higher electricity costs would lift production costs by 7.6 trillion yen per year. The ministry did not provide estimates of how such an increase in costs would affect economic output.

Yoshito Sengoku, the president of the ruling party in Japan, called ending all nuclear power production the equivalent of “mass suicide.”

That’s not a pundit talking.

---

Oh, and:

The local assembly in the Japanese town of Ohi that hosts Kansai Electric Power Co's Ohi nuclear plant agreed on Monday it was necessary to restart two offline reactors, its chairman said.

Power shortages are a concern as all 50 of Japan's nuclear power plants have been shut down following routine maintenance checks in the wake of Fukushima, with the country's last operating reactor going offline on May 4th.

Well, there’s a mitigating factor.

Ohi – reopening.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…