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Japan Restarts Two of Its 50 Nuclear Reactors

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the even-numbers-only dept.

Japan 224

Darth_brooks writes "Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ordered the restart of two idle nuclear reactors Saturday, amid split public response. The Japanese government is trying to fill a summer power shortfall. According to the article, the two reactors supply power to the Kansai region near Osaka, where local officials were predicting a 15% shortfall in power capacity during July and August."

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fundraiser (-1, Offtopic)

fundraiser41 (2663841) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346171)

how to start a fundraiser [fundingjar.com] ? it is safe to say that most of us donate to these causes to either get the kid off the doorstep or simply out of the goodness or our hearts;

That's good news (5, Insightful)

Tarantulas (710962) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346191)

They should leave all the reactors offline that have safety flaws common to the Fukushima plants (close proximity to tidal wave hazards, external diesel generator fuel tanks, etc.) and start up all the rest.

Re:That's good news (4, Informative)

SuperTechnoNerd (964528) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346297)

It's not that simple because Japan has the additional problem that some of the country uses 60Hz like here in the us and some places use 50Hz like in europe.

Re:That's good news (5, Funny)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346393)

Why don't they standardize on 55 Hz?

Re:That's good news (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346699)

Because electronics aren't going to work the same way with even a 5 Hz change in frequency.

Re:That's good news (2)

guruevi (827432) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347001)

Most electronics these days would actually. The problem is anything that uses the grid as a time source such as old clocks, electric motors as well as UPS, generators and the like

Re:That's good news (3, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347869)

Some older electronics with PSUs that use mains frequency transformers and whose design was close to the edge may have problems as may some stuff that uses mains as a time reference but mostly electronics should be fine.

Clocks (whether electronic or mechanical) that derive their timebase from the mains would be a nuisance but ultimately if it was the main issue I think they would have forced a transition through by now.

Afaict the real problem is the big stuff, big motors and generators are usually at least somewhat locked to grid frequency and a 10% change in operating speed is probablly not acceptable. Transformers can also be problematic as a lower frequency can cause core saturation leading to overheating. Replacing that stuff would be seriously expensive.

Re:That's good news (1)

S.O.B. (136083) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347585)

Why don't they standardize on 55 Hz?

55Hz, 56Hz...whatever it takes.

(50 geek points to anyone who gets the reference)

Re:That's good news (1)

Sir Foxx (755504) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348453)

Mr. Mom

Re:That's good news (2, Informative)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346573)

Actually, that's not a problem, they use an HVDC line between the two grids.

Re:That's good news (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346721)

You know, do at least *some* research before stating bullshit.

It is a HUGE PROBLEM. Any interconnect is very limited in size. If a significant portion of one grid is impacted, you can't easily move power from one grid to another. This is exactly the situation in Japan.

Re:That's good news (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346761)

+1 INFORMATIVE

Re:That's good news (5, Informative)

nojayuk (567177) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346779)

The HVDC links between the two grids have a limited capacity, about 2GW as I recall. They've not needed anything bigger since both parts of the country have adequate generating capacity for each region, or at least they did until the nuclear stations in the Kansai area and points south shut down for inspection and refuelling and didn't restart. The Kanto area (Tokyo and environs) has a lot of older coal-burning and oil-burning power stations that were demothballed after they lost the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini reactors and the other stations shut down due to the quake and tsunami (Onagawa, Tokai and Hamaoka) were refused permission to restart. Kansai (Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima etc.) has fewer fossil-burners available to bring back to use hence the predicted electricity supply shortages in the region this summer.

Yep... (5, Insightful)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346195)

Can't survive on renewable energy, and can't built the old coal power plants fast enough even when you're buying up coal as fast as Canada can dig it out of the ground for you. Not a surprise...not a damn surprise. Especially when you've got the idle plants just sitting there.

Re:Yep... (4, Funny)

mweather (1089505) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346263)

Building coal plants fast enough isn't a problem unless you simultaneously shut down all the nuclear reactors.

Re:Yep... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346367)

Building coal plants isn't the problem. Supplying the coal is.

Japan isn't the only country buying coal.

Re:Yep... (3, Informative)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348359)

Supplying coal is one problem, dumping the toxic remains is another. Coal power plants are a disaster as bad as fukushima even when nothing goes wrong.

Re:Yep... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346291)

If people get pissed about nuclear reactors and see building coal plants as a good alternative, I wouldn't care about the time it takes, those people are bloody idiots.

Re:Yep... (0)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346775)

If people get pissed about nuclear reactors and see building coal plants as a good alternative, I wouldn't care about the time it takes, those people are smoking idiots.

I Fixed that for you. :-)

Re:Yep... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40347279)

If people get pissed about nuclear reactors and see building coal plants as a good alternative, I wouldn't care about the time it takes, those people are choking idiots.

I fixed it more for you :-D

Re:Yep... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346359)

Oh, in fact we CAN survive on renewable energy, in fact with an almost negligible cost compared to banking bailouts.

The problem is, as long as fussil fuels are cheaper by the tiniest fraction of a cent, we will continue to burn them.

Re:Yep... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346441)

Oh, in fact you are simply FULL OF SHIT.

full of oil (1)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347719)

No. but we are full of oil. And coal. And plutonium.
That's bad.

Re:Yep... (0)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348597)

lol! Yep, no cognitive dissonance there. I take heart in the fact that solar and wind will cross the cost of coal in the next 10-15 years.

Yet... (2)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348575)

Can't survive on renewable energy, yet,

ftfy

Re:Yet... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348677)

Can't survive on renewable energy, yet,

I'll bet that we won't in our life time. Not unless we put giant solar arrays in orbit or built them on Mercury to beam energy back to earth in the form of microwave energy. Nuclear will be the wave of the future for us, our children, our children's children, and probably the next 6 or 8 generations.

and this time they picked no disasters in the menu (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346225)

and this time they picked no disasters in the menu

Re:and this time they picked no disasters in the m (1)

Riddler Sensei (979333) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346369)

The Prime Minister, however, simply CANNOT resist the earthquake button.

Re:and this time they picked no disasters in the m (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346415)

I suggest they save their game first, and watch what happens at Cheetah speed for awhile.

Re:and this time they picked no disasters in the m (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40347901)

and this time they picked no disasters in the menu

i can understand that, they always get the tsunami and never godzilla, no fun

For successful technology, reality must... (1, Offtopic)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346293)

For successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

No matter who you are, that's true for any technology.

About time (1, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346347)

About time they stopped the nonsense and came back to their senses on the nuclear.

But also it's about time they stopped the nonsense and came to their senses on this desire to destroy their own purchasing power, they have to stop printing the Yen and let it rise, so that they can buy the supplies they need cheaper and others would start investing in their economy more, creating more savings and thus investments, which would boost their real economy, create a bunch of new businesses.

Re:About time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346443)

What nonsense? The public has every right to be concerned. Both Fukushima and the subsequent tests have clearly shown that nuclear power, especially when bought from an occupying power and built by a powerful oligopoly under a weak and corrupt government, is neither cheap, nor safe.

As for the rest of your idiotic comments, you should learn more about the Japanese economy before writing. Alas, you're not a reader, you're a writer, right?

Re:About time (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346505)

Re:About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346667)

You're not a writer, you're a typist. Alas, typing out a fantasy twice does not make in any less a fantasy. Japan does not print nearly enough money, it has been in a deflationary spiral since their bubble burst in 1989, and the yen has gone up from 150 for a dollar four years ago to 79 yesterday.

Re:About time (1, Redundant)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346781)

I can repeat stuff for the third time, if you want to continue reading what I write, that's your choice to read it, nobody is making you, yes?

Based on all of the Japanese productivity the value of their currency is going up and that is a good thing for the Japanese, their problem is that their central bank is trying hard to fight this 'deflationary spiral', which it absolutely must not do, because Japan needs a normal recession to run its course and weed out all of the malinvestments that have accumulated in the economy.

Based on this, the Japanese people should see falling prices, which should help them in a 'deflationary spiral' to get through the rough patch of weather, they would absolutely benefit from falling prices.

Of-course their government has too many people in it that are also running their largest businesses, who are all concerned about exporting their productive output because it's easier for them to understand exports based on high nominal value of their money and low real value of it, rather than to accept that maybe they shouldn't be destroying the value of the currency and instead they simply should lower their prices if they want to export to other countries.

What they really should do is sell domestically, and with a strong yen, the Japanese would be able to buy more of their own goods, the goods would be cheaper.

What the deflation is telling the Japanese is that they have worked exceedingly hard, they have saved plenty and they can enjoy some of that and splurge, but instead their government is stealing their savings by inflating them away, trying to keep nominal prices for goods (and the stock market of-course) up, which is ludicrous Keynesian bullshit.

The Keynesian bullshit ideas on aggregate demand and spending, running deficits by government in order to fight off deflation, which is a huge help to the economy that must go through the recession to cut away excesses, all of this is destroying the Japanese Yen.

Japanese people are just like the people in US are being taught nonsense and not economics, same nonsense that we've been taught in the former USSR, same nonsense that most 'schools' are teaching to the poor children who really do not have a clue and hope that their teachers have one, but their teachers are just like them - little children, being led around by the politicians.

But of-course their teachers are all for this, since they are too on the government payroll and so they are part of this nonsense system.

As I often mentioned, one good thing will come from this incoming economic crash - socialism will be destroyed.

What will replace it, will it be totalitarian tyranny of some sort, a dictatorship or will people finally stop hoping to get something for nothing and start listening to the people who actually know what they are talking about in business and economics and finance and politics? Given the propaganda machine that is built in the 'education' system I am not very hopeful that the current form of socialism will be replaced by free market capitalism in the West, AFAIC the West is up for a terrible dark period in its history, but the Japanese probably will fair better, as they do have plenty of production capacity and their social structure is so different that predicting their psychology is very hard for an outsider.

Probably the Japanese will survive better, the way an ant colony survives through a tough winter, but it's not going to be wonderful if they continue on this path to destroying their own savings and money.

Re:About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40347277)

You can type it out five times, and it still will be a fantasy. Falling prices translate into falling demand for products and companies closing down. Which is exactly what has been happening in Japan, precisely because Japan did NOT follow the advice of Helicopter Ben (you know why they call him that, do you?) and did NOT print money.

Re:About time (1)

shiftless (410350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347539)

I'm not seeing the downside of this.

Re:About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40347579)

It is known as "the lost decade" in Japan.

Re:About time (1)

boligmic (188232) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348191)

Oh my god you are a complete idiot - Keynesian economics HAS NEVER WORKED FOR ANY COUNTRY IN ANY SITUATION.

If printing money and govment jobs fixed depressions, the great depression never happens!.

IDIOT.

Cognitive dissonance (1)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348611)

Keynesian economics HAS NEVER WORKED FOR ANY COUNTRY IN ANY SITUATION

In the voice of Donald Rumsfeld, "That's a known unknown."

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence either way. Case in point -- when European economies tightened the books, every economy predictably contracted. Proof? Absolutely not.

Cut the cognitive dissonance, and enter the conversation =)

What an incredibly stupid argument (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346937)

Both Fukushima and the subsequent tests have clearly shown that nuclear power, especially when bought from an occupying power and built by a powerful oligopoly under a weak and corrupt government, is neither cheap, nor safe.

If you had even a single brain cell you would arrive at the opposite conclusion.

Fukushima survived a huge earthquake, and unexpected wave, and a disastrous internal failure.

DESPITE all that, very few people were killed, and almost no-one outside the plant had any exposure of significance to radiation.

And all this in a plant with a design that was decades old...

If you can't see how inherently safe nuclear is from this incident, nothing can reach your luddite mind.

Nuclear is the one green energy we truly have at our disposal, and backward bumpkins like yourself seek to rob humanity of the benefits that come from cheap and continuous access to power. How many more lives must perish under your cruel tyranny of unwarranted fear?

Re:What an incredibly stupid argument (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40347437)

You're obviously not familiar with the facts.

  • 1. A large earthquake and tsunami are most certainly expected in that area, as there is much evidence that such quakes and tsunamis have happened many times in the past. The plant was not built for them in order to cut costs, because nuclear power is not financially viable if done properly.
  • 2. The plant did not survive the earthquake -- the indications are that the reactors broke down during the earthquake, not because of the tsunami. It is not "official" yet, but that is not surprising -- the meltdown became "official" more than 6 months after it actually happened. This is done to give Tepco time to close the contracts with owners for damages, so that the final liability to the government is lower when it takes over. Again, nuclear is "cheap and plentiful" only when someone else is paying for it, or taking the risks uncovered.
  • 3. Few people were killed, but there was an enormous damage to the economy, and the area is unlikely to recover -- young people have practically moved out.
  • 4. Nuclear power is not cheap at all, unless you cut corners. Just to cover the costs of closing the Fukushima-1 NPP, the electricity prices in the whole Kanto area (that is Tokyo and the surroundings, a territory with more people than most countries in the world) are up 20% this year. And this is a far cry from the real cost of the affair.
  • 5. From the accident, I see nothing about inherent safety, on the contrary, it is obvious it is inherently unsafe, and very costly measures are needed to mitigate the risk. Only partly.

Go peddle your "cheap power for the people" fantasy somewhere else.

Re:What an incredibly stupid argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40348259)

Neither is anyone on slashdot, so why do you even bother?

Re:What an incredibly stupid argument (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40348485)

You're obviously not familiar with the facts.

1. A large earthquake and tsunami are most certainly expected in that area, as there is much evidence that such quakes and tsunamis have happened many times in the past. The plant was not built for them in order to cut costs, because nuclear power is not financially viable if done properly.

So what level of earthquake do you build for ? The problem with your answer is that it would have been 1 less on the scale of richter one year ago, and just think how much less it would have been 30 years ago.

Besides, this tsunami also destroyed other powerplants with much more devastating results, and more dead.

2. The plant did not survive the earthquake -- the indications are that the reactors broke down during the earthquake, not because of the tsunami. It is not "official" yet, but that is not surprising -- the meltdown became "official" more than 6 months after it actually happened. This is done to give Tepco time to close the contracts with owners for damages, so that the final liability to the government is lower when it takes over. Again, nuclear is "cheap and plentiful" only when someone else is paying for it, or taking the risks uncovered.

That depends on your definition of survive. It did. There's many things you can blame for the subsequent meltdown but, here's one thing they modified in US power plants over 20 years ago : do NOT fully shutdown a powerplant if something is melting down.

Here's the first stages of the disaster :
1) tsunami hits, takes out most emergency generators, takes out power connection to mainland japan
2) automatic systems shut down every reactor
3) generators don't come up
4) there is no power for the cooling system, portable generators are called in from the mainland
5) the portable generators, it turns out, cannot be connected to the power plant.
6) hours later (during which there was *zero* radiation leakage, and any of the reactors could have been turned back on safely, even the one melting down)

So if the plant operators had violated the safety procedures and kept one reactor online (even the one that was melting down would have done), there would have been no disaster.

The plant was not brought down by the tsunami, or at least, not sufficiently bad to cause the disaster by itself. Human stupidity had to help, and of course there was more than enough of that to be found.

3. Few people were killed, but there was an enormous damage to the economy, and the area is unlikely to recover -- young people have practically moved out.

That's not true, and there's no good reason to do that either.

4. Nuclear power is not cheap at all, unless you cut corners. Just to cover the costs of closing the Fukushima-1 NPP, the electricity prices in the whole Kanto area (that is Tokyo and the surroundings, a territory with more people than most countries in the world) are up 20% this year. And this is a far cry from the real cost of the affair.

You ALWAYS cut corners by your definition. There is always some amount of disasters that combine into catastropic failure. This is no different for other power generation types. In fact plenty of people die from going to the toilet in an unsafe manner, by getting infected with all manner of scary stuff, do you think we're "cutting corners" there too ?

5. From the accident, I see nothing about inherent safety, on the contrary, it is obvious it is inherently unsafe, and very costly measures are needed to mitigate the risk. Only partly.

This reactor design predates "inherently safe" designs. By the way, in a way this reactor design was inherently safe, as long as you don't turn that feature off (which you do when you take the reactor offline). The inherently safe reactor designs simply cannot be fully turned off. Nothing can protect against idiots making wrong decisions.

Go peddle your "cheap power for the people" fantasy somewhere else.

You go peddle your fantasy safety somewhere else. What will we use ?

Wind power stations have extremely fast moving parts, which is inherently unsafe. So every now and then a wind tower changes into a 50-ton fireball that launches itself up to 200 meters in any random direction. It is already illegal in a lot of countries to place them in an inhabited region. There is no way to make a design that this cannot happen to. Wind power stations kill the engineers repairing them on a regular basis. Wind power stations are made in a steel mill, which is essentially a coal power station, and thus have the coal-related problems during their construction.

Solar power is inherently unsafe, because it has to be installed in the sun, which mostly means on rooftops. And installing very slippery plates to cover an entire roof leads to exactly what you'd expect it leads to. No matter how you attach them (and they're mostly *VERY* weak) if the wind gets under them, a 5 kilo steel plate gets thrown across a residential neighbourhood. What could possibly happen ? Again the engineers installing solar power are the main victims. Solar power panels are made from oil.

Wind and power are so unsafe that their total deathtoll already far exceeds the deathtoll from nuclear accidents.

Coal, oil, gas, ..., do we really need to go into the disadvantages of these ? They all work with compressed explosive gasses and leave toxic residue. These plants cannot be made to survive earthquakes without casualties at all, even with modern technology.

Now if we could power our cities with all the hot air coming from idiots pushing "renewable" power, ...

Re:What an incredibly stupid argument (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40348705)

Fukushima survived a huge earthquake, and unexpected wave, and a disastrous internal failure.

First point: Sitting on the ring of fire, the tsunami shouldn't have been unexpected. The plant was designed to withstand a 5.7m tsunami, but the Thoku tsunami at Fukushima came in at 14m. A tsunami of this size is considered a 1000-year event. The question is, if you are operating a nuclear power plant for at minimum of 40+ years (previous to this event Japan did not have a legal limit for reactor lifetime), should you design for a 1000 year event? This simplistic example shows at least a 1 in 25 chance of having an "incident", relatively near a major metropolitan area (Tokyo). With 54 reactors around the country (not all of which are in a tsunami zone, admittedly), designing to withstand a 1000-year event should be a no-brainer, right? And yet, we didn't do it.

Time and time again, we learn that doing this right is very hard, and the health of huge numbers of people--particularly children--are put in harm's way.

DESPITE all that, very few people were killed, and almost no-one outside the plant had any exposure of significance to radiation.

Second point: What makes you we have seen the death toll from this yet? Rember, radiation exposure doesn't work like car crashes--the health effects and the deaths to come from the reactor leaks have only just begun. I'm not sure what your sources are for "almost no-one outside the plant had any exposure of significance to radiation", but I would urge you to consider corroborating your sources.

I can point you to this information as a start: http://fairewinds.org/fukushima

Shortages are a solved problem. (3, Interesting)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346405)

There's another way to fix the shortfall: simply raise the price of peak hour electricity until demand falls to the level of supply [wikipedia.org] . We've known for hundreds of years that prices set below the going rate determined by supply and demand [wikipedia.org] is the cause of shortages.

The increased peak hour revenue could be used to lower off-peak electricity prices so that people pay on average the same as before.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346551)

If people die from cold in the winter or heat in the summer because they cannot afford power who cares right?

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346591)

You read the first paragraph that I wrote. Now read the second.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (3, Insightful)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346705)

Sorry but your logic does not actually work well for hot areas. The peak need for air conditioning comes during the day which is also the peak overall electrical demand time. At night the need for cooling is less as would the electrical rates would be lower. So as the days get hotter an air conditioning user will be using much more peak priced energy than off peak priced energy and their electrical bill will go up.

What about businesses who only operate during peak price time? They will not get much discount from off-peak price because they do not use it.

There is a falsehood in tying every purchase to the supply/demand curve. Some commodities are considered discretionary purchases. In the case of orange juice one could purchase apple juice instead. The supply/demand curve works very well in such cases. In the case of electricity, the only option is to use less. Most people are already conserving as much as they can so electrical purchases are no longer discretionary. No matter how much you raise prices most people are still going to use what they use up to the point of no longer paying their electrical bill.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347227)

So as the days get hotter an air conditioning user will be using much more peak priced energy than off peak priced energy and their electrical bill will go up.

And when summer ends, as the days get cooler, the reverse occurs. Over the course of a full year, the average electric bill would stay the same.

What about businesses who only operate during peak price time? They will not get much discount from off-peak price because they do not use it.

If they only operate during peak price, it's because there isn't enough of an incentive to shift their operating hours. This changes that.

In the case of electricity, the only option is to use less.

Time-of-use pricing gives people an additional option: shift heavy electrical usage (such as laundry and cooking and dishes) to the off-peak periods in order to save money. Giving people additional ways to save money is a good thing, right?

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347417)

And when summer ends, as the days get cooler, the reverse occurs. Over the course of a full year, the average electric bill would stay the same.

Your original post said: "There's another way to fix the shortfall: simply raise the price of peak hour electricity until demand falls to the level of supply." Now you're saying this won't happen after all, since people can save money in winter and can thus keep on using electricity when they need it (peak hour). Either peak hour electricity use falls and people suffer or it doesn't and nuclear plants need to be restarted. Which one is it?

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347687)

Now you're saying this won't happen after all, since people can save money in winter and can thus keep on using electricity when they need it (peak hour).

A person who doesn't change his or her electrical usage patterns would pay the same, in the long term. But time of use pricing creates an incentive to conserve during times of peak demand.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348501)

... and kills people who cannot afford it.

Energy generation is what allows humans to live north of, say, New York. Anything north of that, you're effectively killing people if you raise electricity prices.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (0)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348601)

... and kills people who cannot afford it.

Please reread the last paragraph of my first post in this thread to find out why this would not be the case.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348645)

I know, but I don't buy it. It flies in the face of well-known economics. If you lower the supply of anything, prices will rise. There's no way around that.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346983)

If people die from cold in the winter or heat in the summer because they cannot afford power who cares right?

Dying from heat in the summer? What are you even talking about?

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (0)

shiftless (410350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347573)

Are you an idiot?

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40348661)

I asked a valid question.

Or we could just (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348273)

subsidies the hell out of LED light bulbs, instant water heaters and energy efficient TVs and PCs. The mandate LED light bulbs & instant water heaters in apartments so that people who rent don't bear the costs of apartments being cheapskates. Add dual pane windows as a requirement too. Their are three electricity costs that matter: Heating & cooling, Lighting & Hot Water. We have the technology to lower all three, and it's in everyone's interest. The issue is that the cost is born by people that can't get together the scratch for the energy efficient stuff even though it saves money overall.

Make the problem worse ! (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348509)

You want to make the problem worse ? How would that help ?

Yes, worse [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346585)

simply raise the price of peak hour electricity until demand falls to the level of supply

Yeah, because when it comes to electricity, there couldn't possibly any downsides to your cunning plan at all right?

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346621)

The increased peak hour revenue could be used to lower off-peak electricity prices so that people pay on average the same as before.

So if the power is used for cooling then people can sit in +40C during peak and at -4C off-peak to make the average temperature a comfortable 18C?

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

darrenm (1632751) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347053)

I know that's how my body's internal temperate is regulated - a 24 hour moving average. As long as it stays around 20C everything's cool.

Seriously, it's scary how fast some apartments can heat up after sunrise and cool down after dark. I think about this a lot working late where the HVAC system at work is on a timer. It's almost like they built a tower that is useless without A/C. As soon as the air stops blowing and the room gets quiet at 6:00 pm, within a minute or two I can feel the temperature increase.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348127)

I react to current temperature, not average (or maybe 1 hour average). If it's +35C or hotter in the room, I cannot do anything, except sit while holding two fans. If it's colder than +10C then I get too cold after some time. If it's +14 - +20C then I'm great.

The building probably was built with AC in mind - if it is like the "modern" buildings (the walls are mostly glass) then it can heat up quite fast - when the sun is shining, every square meter of window lets in about 500W of heat. A building that is made of bricks has much more thermal inertia and also does not let as much heat in/out, since bricks are quite good insulators.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348517)

The usual "renewable" nutters' answer to this is that it is possible to rebuild all those buildings to have stable internal temperatures. And, like any insane argument, it's technically true.

Let's just evict, oh, about 100 million americans and rebuild their houses and apartment blocks from scratch, because that'll save us about 20% or-so electricity usage.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348579)

And rebuilding won't cost anything :) Yea, right, for the cost of all the rebuilding it would be possible to buy a whole lot of coal or oil or whatever fuel for a power station. Also, solar power is not suitable for everyone - in my latitude, the shortest day is about 7 and a half hours. I would need a lot of panels to get the power or a lot of batteries (charge in summer, discharge in winter), especially since it's usually overcast and snowing in winter reducing the power even more. Wind power is not suitable for home use since it's noisy and the neighbors may complain.

Also, is it possible to build a heavily insulated skyscraper? I mean you can't build one out of bricks or concrete since it would collapse under its own weight. Metal is a good heat conductor and glass is a good IR conductor. Glass that reflects IR (but passes visible light) can probably be made but would cost much more than regular glass. Absorbing IR is not good, since then the glass would heat up and heat the building.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348641)

It's quite possible to build insulated skyscrapers. Insulation materials essentially prevent air movement. The more effective ones just lock a lot of air in plastic bubbles near the outer wall. The next thing is to prevent metals or other materials from touching both the outside air and the internal air, which again is not much of a technical challenge (ie. main thing would be to use plastic windows instead of metal ones), but it is expensive.

Of course, upgrading every building to the most recent technical advances remains prohibitively expensive, no matter how well-understood a problem it is. Nothing really changes.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (2, Insightful)

fredgiblet (1063752) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346697)

You're an idiot.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (3, Informative)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347563)

There's another way to fix the shortfall: simply raise the price of peak hour electricity until

...until industrial production is affected by the skyrocketing costs and the whole economy of Japan faces a recession caused by the increased production costs and lack of ability to compete in the economic field.

In alternative, they can simply turn on a couple of the 50 power generators they have just sitting there, that never exhibit a single problem in their entire existence.

I wonder what's the best option.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (2)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347637)

...until industrial production is affected by the skyrocketing costs...

All they have to do is shut down a few production machines during times of peak electrical usage. The workers can take a nap during that time, or that time could mark a shift change. It wouldn't destroy the economy.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348371)

Machine are usually run as long as possible (assuming the people who run the factory are competent, and dont have too much unused machine time). There would definitely be an impact on productivity if they had to shutdown a few machines for few hours a day. The result would affect the company and country economically.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347751)

>> In alternative,... the 50 power generators they have just sitting there, that never exhibit a single problem in their entire existence.

What are you talking about ?

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347731)

In the case of shaving the peaks, it is possible through variable pricing provided that theer is sufficient elasticity in demand. Certainly people can put off laundry and such, but in some climates, heat/ac are not really optional.

In the more general case, hiking prices prevents the condition of markets having no stock when customers want to buy. That doesn't mean there isn't actually a shortage, it just means that economists hammered on the square peg of reality until it fit the round hole of theory (or perhaps theology would be the better word)

Price food at a million dollars a meal and there will technically be no shortage but there will be mass famine.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (0)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347841)

...in some climates, heat/ac are not really optional.

Before homes had air conditioning, people used to go to the movie theater to cool off. Today, there's no stopping people from doing something similar, or hanging out at a friend's house (and returning the favor another day) in order to save money.

Price food at a million dollars a meal and there will technically be no shortage but there will be mass famine.

If there's so little food that you have to price it at a million dollars a meal in order to prevent a shortage, then you can't blame the price for creating a famine.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348087)

Before homes had air conditioning, we had social structure, city planning, and architecture in place to deal with it, including open porches and such. The thought of a high rise with non-opening windows was laughable. Due to less surface area being paved over, urban areas didn't form heat islands to the extent that they do today. Meanwhile, the infirm died off from the heat.

If there's so little food that you have to price it at a million dollars a meal in order to prevent a shortage, then you can't blame the price for creating a famine.

Nor can I claim that hiking the price fixes the problem. Lifting the moratorium on farming might make more sense than claiming that no 'shortage' = no problem.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (5, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348311)

There's another way to fix the shortfall: simply raise the price of peak hour electricity until demand falls to the level of supply [wikipedia.org] .

Yes that works quite well if you're an all consuming nation that has no industry and produces nothing. Quite the opposite is true for Japan. The real fears were that rolling blackouts would start to affect their manufacturing industry and that it would give rise to a second major crash in their economy.

That doesn't even take into account what happens to a nation which is unable to run cooling or heating. Treating people suffering a condition is many times less efficient on resources than preventing the condition from taking place in the first place. You only need to look to Europe to see what happens when gas supplies are suddenly removed from people, which is exactly what happens when you price heating or cooling out of reach of people who may suffer heat stroke / hypothermia.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348571)

The real fears were that rolling blackouts would start to affect their manufacturing industry...

Yes, and that's what setting the price just high enough so that demand falls to the level of supply would prevent.

Re:Shortages are a solved problem. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348637)

There's another way to fix the shortfall

Normally, I'd agree, but this was an artificial shortfall caused because the Japanese government took all of the nuclear reactors offline. My take is that they shold bring those reactors back online, then let the price float.

not actually that unpopular locally (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346411)

While restarting any nuclear reactors is currently quite unpopular in Japan nationally, the decision to restart this particular plant's two reactors was actually made with local input and approval. Local councils aren't normally required to approve such matters, but due to the current controversy, Japan's government de-facto made restart contingent on approval from the local government. After several months of safety studies and deliberation, the municipal council voted 11-1 in favor of restarting the reactors [japantimes.co.jp] in mid-May, which gave the national government some cover to go ahead with it.

Re:not actually that unpopular locally (4, Interesting)

Kalidor (94097) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346529)

Agreed. I also like how 32% opposed to the restart, and 38% with no opinions in public polls (numbers in the the same NHK feed they sourced) is "widespread public opposition".

Re:not actually that unpopular locally (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346679)

What else would you call almost a third of the population polled? Sure, there's a larger group that is either apathetic or supportive, but 32% is pretty widespread.

Re:not actually that unpopular locally (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347699)

32% isn't widespread. Not in the least, you want widespread? Take a look at the polling(nationwide for NHK) done for lay-judges, where 90% approve of it, but 68% would be hesitant of taking the position themselves in a trial.

Re:not actually that unpopular locally (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347761)

Naturally, they meant 2 people objected and they were as far apart as possible without one of them living on the water.

Re:not actually that unpopular locally (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346637)

Exactly. They need the power to keep their toilets online. My wife, who is Japanese, and most of the ex-pats I've talked with believe nuclear is the best option given the requirements of their society. They just want to make sure there is more oversight on controlling the plants.

Re:not actually that unpopular locally (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347353)

I think a better method would be to give the public the power to make the choice: have a referendum, with questions being something like "with summer coming, there is greater demand for power than we can supply without the nuclear reactors. please choose: 1) restart the newer-design reactors to provide this needed power, or 2) don't restart the reactors, and accept rolling blackouts during peak demand times".

If the public chooses #2, then just go ahead and have rolling blackouts. That'll solve the problem completely, at least as far as the power company is concerned. If people complain about that, point out that that's what they chose to do, so stop complaining.
 

Re:not actually that unpopular locally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40347755)

Sounds like you're a really smart person, and you always make wonderful decisions. But I bet is has not even occurred to you that a large amount of the push to restart the reactors comes from shareholders in electric companies, which have seen their shares tumble. They are the people who really prevent better solutions coming about, and they are not likely to let blackouts happen, or let their investment in nuclear go worthless, no matter what it may mean for the people who live near the plants.

Re:not actually that unpopular locally (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348307)

Sounds like you're a really smart person, and you always make wonderful decisions.

This has nothing to do with me. I'm just saying that if the populace is complaining, let the populace decide, for better or worse. If they make a bad decision, they'll have to live with the consequences, but they'll only have themselves to blame. The problem with something highly controversial like nuclear power seems to be these days is that no matter which decision the politicians make, good or bad, the people will still be mad at them.

So if the people prefer no nuclear power, give it to them. When they get sick of frequent blackouts, maybe they'll change their minds. Offer an alternative to build more coal-based plants too, perhaps: but make sure to make clear the new power plants will be located right in the middle of their neighborhoods, stinking up the air.

The thing most people just don't seem to understand is that electricity doesn't come out of thin air (except for lightning...); it has to be generated somehow. For large amounts of power, that generally means either coal, which has all kinds of nasty emissions, or nuclear, which has the rare problem seen in Fukushima (which was a very old plant and not terribly well-located). If you want clean air and a 100% guarantee of no mishaps, the only option is to give up electricity altogether.

Re:not actually that unpopular locally (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348675)

But I bet is has not even occurred to you that a large amount of the push to restart the reactors comes from shareholders in electric companies

So what? Just because they're trying to protect their wealth doesn't mean that they're in the wrong. Surely, you can come up with a better reason than because you want to screw over a certain group of people.

Re:not actually that unpopular locally (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347747)

In general, nothing trumps NIMBY quite like a threatened return to the dark ages.

No surprise (4, Insightful)

bazorg (911295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346527)

When you can't have everything your way, having some electricity is not a bad start.

Nuclear disaster nearly shut down Tokyo (0, Flamebait)

solferino (100959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347555)

To all the uranium power nuclear boosters who will appear in this thread I have one fact to remind you of. The Japanese PM at the time of the disaster was seriously considering having to evacuate Tokyo. If he had not forced Tepco to be more proactive in their management of the disaster and thus managed to head-off a nuclear cascade (with the disaster spreading to nuclear reactors closer to Tokyo) this would have happened.

Imagine what that would have done to Japan and its economy. Not total wipe-out for the country but it would have certainly brought it to its knees. If there was a similar disaster in one of Taiwan's uranium reactors it would destroy the country as there is nowhere far enough to get away in that small island which has a population of over 20 million and is a key part of the IT supply chain.

These risks are too significant and severe to hazard and we have shown that we do not have the level of social and political sophistication to contain them.

I'm not saying that some of the existing reactors might not need to be restarted. But no new uranium reactors should ever be built and massive investment should be thrown into renewable energy and thorium nuclear.

Re:Nuclear disaster nearly shut down Tokyo (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40347767)

Maybe NIMBY's should remember this the next time they cockblock replacement of aging 60 year old 1st generation reactors that have exceeded their operational lifespan.

Re:Nuclear disaster nearly shut down Tokyo (0)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347777)

True.
Tokyo was saved last year by pure luck and wind direction.

Re:Nuclear disaster nearly shut down Tokyo (4, Insightful)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347799)

(with the disaster spreading to nuclear reactors closer to Tokyo) this would have happened.

What possible mechanism could have caused that? Radioactive leaks aren't like an infectious disease, they don't cause distant power stations to become damaged.

Re:Nuclear disaster nearly shut down Tokyo (3, Informative)

solferino (100959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348045)

The 400-page report, due to be released later this week, also describes a darkening mood at the prime minister's residence as a series of hydrogen explosions rocked the plant on March 14 and 15. It says Mr. Kan and other officials began discussing a worst-case outcome if workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant were evacuated. This would have allowed the plant to spiral out of control, releasing even larger amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere that would in turn force the evacuation of other nearby nuclear plants, causing further meltdowns.

The report quotes the chief cabinet secretary at the time, Yukio Edano, as having warned that such a 'demonic chain reaction' of plant meltdowns could result in the evacuation of Tokyo, 150 miles to the south.

"We would lose Fukushima Daini, then we would lose Tokai," Mr. Edano is quoted as saying, naming two other nuclear plants. "If that happened, it was only logical to conclude that we would also lose Tokyo itself."

Source: NY Times article [nytimes.com] on top-level report reviewing the disaster.

Re:Nuclear disaster nearly shut down Tokyo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40348221)

Fantasies like this are why no one takes ecologists seriously.

Re:Nuclear disaster nearly shut down Tokyo (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348409)

The 400-page report, due to be released later this week, also describes a darkening mood at the prime minister's residence as a series of hydrogen explosions rocked the plant on March 14 and 15. It says Mr. Kan and other officials began discussing a worst-case outcome if workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant were evacuated. This would have allowed the plant to spiral out of control, releasing even larger amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere that would in turn force the evacuation of other nearby nuclear plants, causing further meltdowns.

The report quotes the chief cabinet secretary at the time, Yukio Edano, as having warned that such a 'demonic chain reaction' of plant meltdowns could result in the evacuation of Tokyo, 150 miles to the south.

"We would lose Fukushima Daini, then we would lose Tokai," Mr. Edano is quoted as saying, naming two other nuclear plants. "If that happened, it was only logical to conclude that we would also lose Tokyo itself."

Source: NY Times article [nytimes.com] on top-level report reviewing the disaster.

I am surprised they did says the ripple effect would result in requiring whole of Asia to evacuated and soon the world. What makes them think that reactors around the reactor would not be shutdown, before they are evacuated. Or that given the prediction, they can think ahead and shutdown the reactors near Fukushima ahead.

Re:Nuclear disaster nearly shut down Tokyo (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348169)

(with the disaster spreading to nuclear reactors closer to Tokyo) this would have happened.

What possible mechanism could have caused that? Radioactive leaks aren't like an infectious disease, they don't cause distant power stations to become damaged.

Godzilla.

Remember the radioactive mutant monsters in Tokyo Bay,

Oh 'great' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40347879)

AFAIK, Japan STILL haven't cleaned up after their last embarassing meltdown. How many tonnes of radioactive water flowed into our oceans? How many tonnes of radioactive dust was kicked up into the air? Do we just let them say "ah shit ... sorry ... oh by the way, we're going to keep using nuclear power"?

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