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Japan's Richest Man Outlines Renewable Energy Plan

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the new-meaning-to-green-energy dept.

Japan 224

itwbennett writes "Speaking at the launch of his Japan Renewable Energy Foundation, Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of Softbank, outlined a plan to rebuild Japan's energy infrastructure. Son said the country could shift to renewable energy sources for 60 percent of its electricity requirements over the next two decades. He called for a 2 trillion yen (US$26 billion) 'super grid' across the country, and underwater off the coast, that would zip electricity around cheaply and efficiently to meet demand."

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Go! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37380870)

Somebody say 'first'. This "0 Comments" is freaking me out!

Re:Go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37380930)

Didn't you hear the news? Fox says Slashdot is dying.
Evidently no one cares about FP anymore these days.

Hipster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37380982)

I cared before it went mainstream.

Re:Go! (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 2 years ago | (#37380984)

Netcraft confirms Fox is dying. Slashdotters everywhere rejoice.

Re:Go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381028)

Well, it doesn't really seem right at the moment, but...Seventeenth! And that's still pretty good I think.

What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 2 years ago | (#37380918)

"... and underwater off the coast that would zip electricity around..."

Hmm.

Electricity.

Under water.

Under salty water.

What could possibly go wrong and why am I reminded of the old proposal for liquid sodium cooled nuclear reactors in submarines?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Post-O-Matron (1273882) | more than 2 years ago | (#37380934)

It's still a step up from nuclear meltdown isn't it?

You have to see things in perspective...

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37380962)

They have this stuff called insulation now, you really should check it out.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381004)

You neglected to mention the high seismic activity.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381030)

HVDC electrode return, in one small step you just saved many many millions of dollars on cabling.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381162)

if it was not for electricity under the water then roy scheider would not have been able to kill the shark in "jaws two".

this is just one of the major flaws in your theory

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381404)

Mod parent up. Shark safety is perhaps the most neglected aspect of power grid design.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381636)

...Shark safety is perhaps the most neglected aspect of power grid design.

Indeed! One wonders what effect underwater power lines have on sharks' sense of electroreception.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (5, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381278)

AC under seawater is difficult. DC under seawater is simple. Both AC and DC suffer from resistive losses in the cable, but AC also suffers from reactive losses, which are far higher underwater. You can even do earth return, either a monopolar transmission or an uninsulated (and thus cheaper) return wire. And no, it's not dangerous; it's already used in quite a few places.

What is being proposed here is a nationwide HVDC grid, which is an especially important thing in Japan where they have basically two separate AC grids operating on different frequencies. This prevented the southwest from sharing power with the northeast after the tsunami, causing the northeast (including Tokyo) to suffer rolling blackouts for a long period of time. DC can allow power sharing between the two grids.

Basically, it's a proposal to allow power generated in any part of the country to be consumed in any other part, with minimal losses. And seeing as the country is the size of California, the weather in one part of the country can be very different than the weather in another part of the country, so it's a boon to not just stability and efficiency, but renewables capacity as well. Peaking plants and energy storage systems anywhere in the country can likewise support the entire nation.

I certainly hope Japan leads the way on this. Europe has been moving in this direction at a moderate pace, but the US only at a snail's pace. It needs a big push.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381514)

We run thousands of cables that support electricity across the ocean including to the coast of japan now. They are lower energy, but the principle is the same. Sure, an earthquake could wreck a cable, but it's a lot cheaper (and faster) to replace a cable than a power generator. Build the generators in safe (by japanese standards) places, and put the risky stuff on wires that can be replaced and turned off.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Interesting)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381564)

What could possibly go wrong and why am I reminded of the old proposal for liquid sodium cooled nuclear reactors in submarines?

It's working out pretty well in Europe [wikipedia.org] , and the Japanese have the advantage of learning from others' mistakes.

As for the submarines I'm not sure; why does underwater cable that's chemically and radiologically benign and miles away from anyone sound as dangerous as a can of irradiated liquid metal that's bad enough before it touches water?

Business plan a little sketchy (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 2 years ago | (#37380936)

So, which step is "Profit!"

Re:Business plan a little sketchy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381098)

The one after the question marks, silly.

Re:Business plan a little sketchy (2)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381246)

The Fukushima plant's "question marks" step begins after the "blow up plant" step.

That grid, would it be... (1)

neBelcnU (663059) | more than 2 years ago | (#37380948)

...50 or 60 cycles? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Japan [wikipedia.org]

Re:That grid, would it be... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37380966)

55 cycles, obviously!

My Grid Haiku (4, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381076)

Electricity
Fifty, sixty, whatever
Gojira stomps all

Re:That grid, would it be... (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381286)

It'd be 0 cycles [wikipedia.org] .

Re:That grid, would it be... (4, Informative)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381484)

...50 or 60 cycles?

DC

Re:That grid, would it be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381766)

220, 221, whatever it takes.

Please (2)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 2 years ago | (#37380970)

Do it just to show up the lack of a coherent energy policy by the United States. They can't even install solar panels on the White House without some hoo-hah involved.

Re:Please (0)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381018)

Well yeah, duh, it is THE white house. Just because we elected an african american president does not mean it would make any sense to turn it into the black house. I think that solar panels will work there one day, they just have to learn how to make white colored solar pannels work. The building may be filled with sleezebags, lobyists etc... but gosh darnit it needs to be the color white, all around, every surface.

Re:Please (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381458)

Did you forget to post as AC for your racist comment? Might I point out solar panel already exist on the White House, they just need to install newer more modern ones so it already happened.

Re:Please (1)

emuls (1926384) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381522)

Pretty sure he was making a joke.

Re:Please (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381572)

Can you please point out the racist remark in parent's post?

Re:Please (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381812)

He saw the word African, followed by the word American and stopped thinking. Maybe it's racist because they weren't capitalized.

Re:Please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381482)

President Carter has solar panels installed on the white house, but then Reagen had them taken off...

Re:Please (1)

Unequivocal (155957) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381672)

You don't really think that's the reason they don't have solar panels on the white house right? Carter put solar panels on the white house and Regan took them down. That's all you really need to know to understand the issues involved..

Re:Please (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381490)

Some hoo-hah involved?

I'm not even sure what you mean, but Carter had some solar *water* heating panels installed, that Reagan removed.

Ruling out nuclear entirely may not be wise (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 2 years ago | (#37380976)

With so few traditional energy resources, Japan will a very difficult time reaching that goal. A few judiciously placed Gen-IV nuclear reactors would be a good idea unless they think they can reach their goal solely through wave energy and geothermal. Not sure what their solar and wind potential might be but they need a solid baseload option to replace nuclear.

Re:Ruling out nuclear entirely may not be wise (1)

bluemonq (812827) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381022)

Well, at the very least he's on the right track about the grid itself. If it weren't for the 50-60 split, they wouldn't have had to worry about power outages.

Re:Ruling out nuclear entirely may not be wise (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381502)

Yes, he is. I left that out of my previous post but I fully support his plan to revamp the electrical infrastructure which is also long overdue for America.

Re:Ruling out nuclear entirely may not be wise (1, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381070)

Currently Gen IV plants are in the research stage. Since they take 20+ years to build, I don't think Japan can afford to risk building a theoretical device to meet today's demand. Since Japan is an island, offshore wind power is probably ideal.

Re:Ruling out nuclear entirely may not be wise (2)

haruchai (17472) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381640)

You're right, I got the Generation classification wrong; I meant Gen III+ designs such as the Advanced CANDU or the AP1000.

Really? (3, Insightful)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381150)

Let me get this straight. The most successful Japanese business man is going balls to the wall for renewable energy after his country has just experienced what still could become the worst nuclear accident ever. You:

- Probably have significantly less money that can be invested in ANY project (not that you would bother investing in Japan if you did).
- Probably do not even HAVE any assets in Japan at risk.
- Did not even take the time to look up what Japans real alternative energy profile looks like.


You know, I am assuming you are a fellow American because that seems to be what Americans do all the time, tell the rest of the world what is best for them without even bothering to learn anything about their situation (Hell, it is how Japan first got into the nuke business, to begin with). However, do you think the nuke industry really needs posts like yours? It is really sad to see little people like yourself cheer on the giants who wouldn't lose any sleep if they smeared your little life all over the pavement. Even more pathetic from the eyes of those who have been direct victims of such industry giants.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381224)

Way to spend three paragraphs slamming the person posting and ranting about how evil and homicidal you think some unnamed companies are, instead of addressing the rational and constructive post he made.

You are awarded no points, and may fsm have mercy on your soul.

Dear Anon (0)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381342)

To use Anon posting for personal attacks against signed-in users must be something only done by those with such low self-esteem and basis for argument that they are unable to socially engage on fair ground. I find it truly disturbing the amount of time you must have wasted on this effort and believe it must stem from some serious social disorder you must be suffering from. Though I am ignoring your post/s, I found it necessary to point out that you are abusing a very useful functionality of Slashdot. Some posters have legitimate reasons for using the Anon feature to allow them to inform our community without compromising their careers or personal safety. Your abuse of this feature risks undermining that which brings otherwise unobtainable information to the community (by increasing the likelihood that all Anon posts will be ignored). In other words, you are hurting the community for selfish and antisocial personal gain. Please stop. Anyone finding themselves in a similar situation are free to reuse the last paragraph. I believe if we respond consistently as a community we can limit the effects of such destructive behavior.

Re:Really? (2)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381358)

his country has just experienced what still could become the worst nuclear accident ever.

Ever heard of Chernobyl, which nearly made the whole of Europe inhabitable, required 600,000 "liquidators" to be mobilised to build a cover on top of the reactor (most of which died of severe radiation poisoning less than 20 years later), bankrupted the USSR (it cost hundred of billions of modern dollars), and removed 10 million of acres of land from Belarus and Ukraine?

The Fukushima disaster is not close to being the worst nuclear accident at all.

Just wait . . . (0)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381426)

Obviously you are not considering population density. Let us have this conversation again 15 years from now.

Re:Just wait . . . (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381660)

Clearly you don't understand the scale of the Chernobyl incident.
Fukushima was nothing like it.

Re:Just wait . . . (1, Troll)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381742)

Clearly you do not understand the nature of Fukushima nor Chernobyl, or you would not be making such statements about Fukushima so early on.

Re:Really? (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381526)

Inhabitable Sir? So therefore Fukishima should reverse the ongoing decline in the Japanese population instead then?

Re:Really? (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381602)

Uninhabitable, sorry.

For my defense, this word is kinda tricky.

Re:Really? (5, Interesting)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381876)

Ever heard of Chernobyl, which nearly made the whole of Europe inhabitable, required 600,000 "liquidators" to be mobilised to build a cover on top of the reactor (most of which died of severe radiation poisoning less than 20 years later),

I lived in less than 100km to the North from Chernobyl power plant, and my health is better than one of most people posting here.

The scale of Chernobyl disaster was massively inflated for political reasons, and to promote the policy of replacing nuclear power plants with less efficient coal-burning ones, that you see now in Europe.

bankrupted the USSR (it cost hundred of billions of modern dollars),

It didn't, because government was on both sides of all contracts related to the cleanup. It's not US, where contractor companies gorge on money thrown at them by the government every time there is any excuse for doing so.

and removed 10 million of acres of land from Belarus and Ukraine?

Swamp land. The power plant was build in the midst of swamps.

Re:Really? (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381768)

I've always been a staunch support of renewables but they have to be appropriate to the demand and the location. As one of the world's largest consumers of energy as well as a very developed society, they really can't afford to react out of fear. While this was a great disaster, how many of the 50-odd nuke plants were affected? The biggest problem is that divided grid with only 3 frequency converter stations in the whole country.

Re:Ruling out nuclear entirely may not be wise (3, Informative)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381176)

Japan is one of the few places that could possibly be powered completely by geothermal. There isn't nearly enough wave energy to supply the planet, nor is there sufficient wave energy near Japan to supply Japan. With a combination of geothermal, wind, hydro, and possibly some solar or wave, Japan might be able to go completely renewable. Most industrialized countries don't have access the the abundant geothermal resources Japan has (due to their location on the edge of the "ring of fire").

Of renewable sources, solar and wind are the ones that can supply enough power for the world, but both are intermittent sources that are not well suited to supplying either base-load or peak-load power without a significant amount of on-demand energy storage added to the grid. On demand energy storage can be in the form of batteries, super capacitors, gravity reservoirs (e.g. pump water uphill to a reservoir during periods of excess generation, release it through turbines when needed), etc. However, solar requires huge amounts of land. Solar and wind each need more than 4x average demand installed (even with on-demand storage, more still without on-demand storage) because they only average ~25% of installed capacity. Neither solar or wind is viable in all areas, and with it's intermittent nature, the grid must have significantly more capacity to route from locations with excess to locations with a shortage.

Bottom line, for most of the world, nuclear and/or fossil fuels are the only currently viable means to meet the difference between renewable capacity and peak demand. Fossil fuels will be exhausted in 50-250 years (~50 yrs oil, slightly longer for natural gas, 200+ years coal). Since plants have a 40-80yr life span, fossil fuel plant built today, could run out of fuel before the plant is used up. Nuclear is the only long term solution that is viable today, and even that needs to move to a thorium fuel model with breeder reactors and fuel reprocessing in order to last more than a few hundred years.

Re:Ruling out nuclear entirely may not be wise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381354)

You're extremely wrong about coal, you're basing your 250 years on a report from the 70s that had 2 caveats:
1) At current extraction rates (they're way higher now, as in we're mining something like 16 or 32 times the amount per year that we did in 1970)
2) We could only get at half the coal in the first place (which might have been what you were referring to when you cut your 500 years number in half to 250).

The coal fields will be gone in 30 years max at current usage rates, but of course, what will really happen is as production goes down (and we peaked some time ago in the US) it will just get more expensive.

All fossil fuels will become exceedingly rare/expensive within 20 years.

Re:Ruling out nuclear entirely may not be wise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381578)

Thanks for your insightful remarks Mr Anonymous. I'm glad to see so many facts and predictions without a single piece of credible evidence presented to support it

Re:Ruling out nuclear entirely may not be wise (2)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381668)

No, I'm not wrong. From [wikipedia.org] BP, in its 2007 report, estimated at 2006 end that there were 909,064 million tons of proven coal reserves worldwide, or 147 years reserves-to-production ratio. This figure only includes reserves classified as "proven"; exploration drilling programs by mining companies, particularly in under-explored areas, are continually providing new reserves. In many cases, companies are aware of coal deposits that have not been sufficiently drilled to qualify as "proven".

Going from 143yrs proven reserves to the 200+ years I stated isn't a big stretch, especially as supplied get tighter, conservation becomes more prevalent, and the price and technologies develop to extract the yet unproven or unknown reserves.

The bottom line is that fossil fuels are running out, and at most we've got 250 years, but since we don't yet have a viable replacement for oil, we've really got maybe 50 years to make the transition to largely renewable sources.

Re:Ruling out nuclear entirely may not be wise (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381762)

Seems I messed up including the wikipedia link for Coal [wikipedia.org] in my post above.

Re:Ruling out nuclear entirely may not be wise (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381512)

solar requires huge amounts of land

Even beyond all of the roofs that are readily available for such use?

Re:Ruling out nuclear entirely may not be wise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381744)

Is it mad to believe we'll have fusion within a century? (Seriously)
Or is it too risky a bet?

If his network is any example (4, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#37380978)

I don't want this guy anywhere near any real important infrastructure, his network is a fucking joke. Massive amounts of dead spots, slow as shit(esp. when compared to his competitors) internet speed etc. The guy obviously either doesn't know anything about building cell networks or doesn't give a shit. However he DOES spend I would estimate at least 2-3x as much as his competitors do on advertising. So maybe that is what he is planning, a massive ad campaign for renewable energy without anything concrete to show for it.

Softbank sucks.

I had a different experience (1)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381210)

Of course, I was in Tokyo most of the time, and it was the only company providing the first "non-dumb" smartphones (iphone) at the time. When the 3/11 earthquake hit, of course, the service was non-existent, but I do not know any other services that really survived (though, my emobile mobile wifi dongle worked well enough).

Say what you want, but Softbank really brought the iphone revolution (now the iphone and android revolution) to Japan. Also, I am sure the smartgrid will not be wireless . . .

Re:I had a different experience (3, Informative)

JanneM (7445) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381542)

"Say what you want, but Softbank really brought the iphone revolution"

No, not really. They were a newly started/aqcuired network (softbank bought a failing network wholesale) with few customers and a reputation for lousy infrastructure. They were the only network willing to accede to Apple's conditions for selling the iPhone (rumour has it Apple was holding out for NTT Docomo to the end but the negotiations fell through). Apple got a compliant network and Softbank got a cash cow to drive subscribers.

But Softbank only "brought the iPhone revolution" because they were the only network willing to bend to Apples conditions.

Re:I had a different experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381688)

Cool Story, Bro.

Re:I had a different experience (1)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381724)

Exactly, Softbank were the only ones flexible enough in Japan to do business with Apple. However, you seem intent on disagreeing, so yes . . . I am wrong, you are right . . .

Re:If his network is any example (0)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381222)

So maybe that is what he is planning, a massive ad campaign for renewable energy without anything concrete to show for it.

I dunno, how massive are we talking? As far as I can see, there's already some big money in the ever expanding greenwashing market. He's really going to have to push the boat out on the free range dolphin friendly carbon capture electrons spiel to make an impact.

Re:If his network is any example (1)

lalleglad (39849) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381256)

So, if there is any competition in Japan, like DoCoMo and whoelse, why not change to those? And why doesn't everyone else? So, what is the catch?

Re:If his network is any example (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381444)

I will as soon as my contract is up, but I was dumb enough to want an iPhone and that was the only provider. While I like the iPhone better than Android, being relegated to such a shitty network isn't worth it, and if future iPhone revisions are only compatible with Softbank, I will be dumping the iPhone as well.

Where are you? (1)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381532)

Softbank worked great for me in Kanto. You really have to be specific, as the quality of mobile services seems to depend on the region you are in.

Son-san being Son-san (2)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 2 years ago | (#37380990)

I worked for ZD when he bought the company (97 maybe, from Forstmann-Little). The man is an infamous bullshitter. If he's actually giving serious thought to doing something along these lines then it has to be a scam that he'll make money on.

Re:Son-san being Son-san (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381194)

He knows the right words.

"Renewables! Renewables!"

It works [nytimes.com] well.

One word (1)

ptr2004 (695756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37380992)

Inception

The punchline (3, Insightful)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381002)

At bottom, this is a demand for public subsidy. The fact that he does not plan to make money with his initiative is a huge tell, and why this won't succeed. Energy production has been responsible for some of the world's biggest fortunes, yet here Son is saying he's not interested in making money? I smell a rat.

Re:The punchline (4, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381136)

Reminds me of T. Boone Pickens. He was all for wind power when he was asking [wikipedia.org] the government for a right-of-way which would also have the convenient side-effect of allowing him to build a huge pipleline infrastructure for his large water holdings (making him a fortune). When he didn't get this right-of-way, suddenly he stopped being a big fan of wind power for some reason. Today you'll hear not a peep from him about it.

Re:The punchline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381332)

Interesting. I hadn't heard about that angle.

Re:The punchline (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381154)

Maybe he's gunning for political office? Being the man who put the lights back on - figuratively speaking - would probably buy a lot of popularity points.

Maybe he just wants subsidies transferred . . . (2)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381300)

from the Japanese nuke industry.

Re:The punchline (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381306)

This is textbook Clinton. Take position for something that seems to solve a lot of problems but that does not seem likely to happen - so you get the good PR without risking a backlash if the thing is actually done and it fails miserably.

Obama is not my hero but at least he did more than talk about health care.

Re:The punchline (2)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381436)

Oh? Clinton balanced the god damn budget.

Obama created a mandate that people carry insurance, this subsidies the insurance companies and allows them to raise prices. If he had implemented a single payer public option that covered all Americans, then Obama could be said to have done something good for health care. But even that isn't as powerful as Clinton's balanced budget. The bad news is that neither achievement will have survived the next person to take office.

Re:The punchline (1)

Hillgiant (916436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381374)

Show me a energy industry that does not receive public subsidy.

Re:The punchline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381822)

Gas turbines receive no subsidies. Coal power and nuclear receives only loan guarantees, which in itself is not really a subsidy. I would support loan guarantees for any proven energy project that is viable, say, national power grid. Heck, some of the projects can be viewed as strategic importance and power grid is one of them.

Gas turbines do not require loan guarantees as there is very little input capital costs in these projects. Majority of the costs are operating costs, not capital costs. Coal and nuclear have much larger capital costs.

Anyway, Japan is setting itself for failure with renewables. Renewables are vastly more expensive than nuclear or even fossil fuel sources as you need massive overbuild infrastructure just to provide reasonable assurances for base load. 3-5x overbuilt is probably the minimum (eg. 50GW wind to provide 10GW average power, or 100MW solar to provide 18MW output), never mind any storage costs.

But then Japan sets itself up for failure many times. Their split 50/60Hz infrastructure is a perfect example of this.

One industry supports another (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381414)

Maybe he doesn't plan on making money from the power industry, but rather from industry that depends on having consistently available and reliable power...

Re:One industry supports another (1)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381632)

Yeah, Professor Koide of Kyodai even said that the GOJ could not possibly fully compensate the victims of Fukushima (assuming it did so at fair value). Maybe hotshots like Son realize their fortunes might become worthless if Japan does not fix its energy problem, and quick.

Re:The punchline (1)

jon3k (691256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381796)

When you have that much money you start considering your legacy. Look at what Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are doing these days. Ego can be one HELL of a motivator.

Relatively Speaking... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381068)

Compared to the first Stimulus Plan that cost us $866 (Carl Sagan's favorite word) Billions of Dollars, and now the (now that Stimulus is a bad word) proposed $447 Billion Jobs Plan that is really a Wealth Redistribution Plan by any other name, a mere $26 Billion infrastructure upgrade that actually does something useful sounds like a real bargain.

Re:Relatively Speaking... (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381130)

At the risk of burning karma in pointless, off-topic pedantry I will simply point out that our beloved Carl was known for saying "billions and billions", which is four billion at the least.

Still, when we're talking about nearly a trillion dollars what's a factor of two or four between friends, eh?

Re:Relatively Speaking... (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381318)

At risk of doubling down on the burning of karma, Carl only said "billions and billions" as a reference to people who erroneously claimed he did [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Relatively Speaking... (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381794)

I doff my cap.

...damn memory.

Re:Relatively Speaking... (5, Insightful)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381202)

Hey, now while I'm no fan of either stimulus plan I object to the "wealth redistribution" class warfare rhetoric. We can't discuss class unless it is to defend the wealthy!

To be more serious, the wealthy have been waging a PR driven class war against everybody else for decades; both of Obama's plans give in heavily to the ruling class and still had/have a big uphill battle for the tiny portion that is ok. This current one will not pass for multiple reasons; one of the big ones being that tax loopholes the wealthy use to CHEAT are being closed to help fund tax cuts for the rest who've been picking up the bill for the wealthy --- the wealth HAS been redistributed upwards at increasing amounts for decades; their pay goes up while the rest are lucky to keep up with inflation (and most do not; including myself... I've never had a job that kept up with inflation.)

Tax derivatives less than 1% and you pretty much fix our budget issues. "Business" which does not benefit the real economy should be taxed like the gambling it is. Instead, we continue to let them expand their addiction to our retirement funds and soon our social security funds.

Rob a bank and its a despicable crime; rob nations and its just a statistic.
With enough money anybody can buy all the praise they desire.

Re:Relatively Speaking... (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381282)

>>Compared to the first Stimulus Plan that cost us $866 (Carl Sagan's favorite word) Billions of Dollars, and now the (now that Stimulus is a bad word) proposed $447 Billion Jobs Plan that is really a Wealth Redistribution Plan by any other name, a mere $26 Billion infrastructure upgrade that actually does something useful sounds like a real bargain.

But, uh, just think about all the stuff the trillion dollars has got us!

Hell, the ARRA repainted road markings on a street not 200 feet from me. That's worth a cool trill, right?

Sigh... we could have replaced all of our coal power plants for that price, or expanded all of our overloaded interstates by a lane, or, hell, built a smart grid of our own.

Re:Relatively Speaking... (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381322)

Honestly what is wrong with a little wealth redistribution?
I realize it is not popular on slashdot, but if that is what our economy needs so be it. When the rich have all the money they don't spend it. If we give that to the poor, they will spend it right away.

Re:Relatively Speaking... (1)

Delarth799 (1839672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381562)

You seem to have missed the part where this isn't the United States but Japan. A country wide system overhaul in the US would cost much much more

Get the grid going (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381072)

That is the important item. In addition, add storage. Once you have that, you can move in and out with energy generation.

Re:Get the grid going (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381178)

you can move in and out with energy generation.

So you are saying that, instead of wave, wind, or solar - we should go with sex power. Don't want to hook that up backwards! Do you know if we are AC or DC?

The Richest Japan in the World (1)

kakyoin01 (2040114) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381094)

"I don't always plunk down dough, but when I do it's to help rebuild the foundations of my manse"

Intercontinental power grid? (0)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381110)

Son said the 2,000 kilometer (1,200 mile) nationwide power grid he proposed could eventually be expanded to all of Asia, in a massive grid that would run 36,000 kilometers and link Japan with countries including India, China, and Russia.

I have never heard of the idea of running power-lines on the ocean floor. For anyone interested, this idea has come-up before.
The benefits of an intercontinental energy grid [sciencealert.com.au]
Solar Energy as a Major Replacement for Fossil Fuel [mit.edu]

Also, I hope that if Japan does this, they don't become dependent on China for their power needs. They should always have enough to fill their own appetites, considering how easy it would be for a military power to cut them off.

Re:Intercontinental power grid? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381338)

Power sharing goes both ways. It's like trade ties. The more integrated you are with another nation, the more difficult it becomes to go to war with them -- e.g., China bombs a power plant in Japan and Beijing goes dark, too.

stay with software (1, Interesting)

drwho (4190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381260)

....hardware isn't your area of expertise, Mr. Son. Japan needs nuclear power, it is even less suited to wind & solar than other places, and has practically no fossil fuels. However, nuclear energy can be cleaner, safer, and more efficient than it is, by the use of molten salts for cooling and fuel delivery. The best example of this are Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors...see http://www.EnergyFromThorium.com

Re:stay with software (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381746)

When will you guys finally understand, that doing everything just one way is the surest way to fail. There is no reason not to use wind, solar, geothermal or biomass where it is available and where it can be used sustainably with minimal (additional) damage to the environment. Of course, it's not necessarily cheap and I don't believe there is enough of them to provide for all the energy we need.

But again, no reason not to use them, provided that the public isn't being mislead about costs and usefulness of the results. Otherwise, it's going to end just like NASA.

Anybody catch that this is a banker proposing this (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381284)

I had to re read it, CEO bankers in the states buy submariner rollex and fly on private jets and don't acknowledge that poor people exist. And this guy is actually thinking about something besides money and sex? As I said I had to re read it. If rich people in the states showed 1/2 as much responsibility as what this man is even thinking about, we'd probably have a settlement on Mars by now. Oh well, such is life, kudos to you sir.

A few obvious questions (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381302)

A few obvious questions about those renewable energy sources he wants to use:

Which ones? Are they used in a sustainable way? Where will it be placed? Who will finance it how? What are the limits to environmental damage and destruction caused by them? How will energy from wind and solar be stored? Who will pay for use and installation of storage? What will be the energy source for the other 40% of electricity? What will they do about the other 60% or so of energy that are not electricity and are currently provided mostly by gas and oil, being used for heating, industrial processes and powering vehicles?

Let's fix this shall we? (1)

ch33zm0ng3r (1266976) | more than 2 years ago | (#37381620)

Japan's richest and, therefore, most trustworthy man outlines renewable energy program.

Japan's Richest Man... uh huh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37381850)

Let me guess.... This $2 Trillion Yen will come from other people, right?

I mean, why risk your own money, right??? Do that enough and you're not rich anymore... right?

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