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Japan Aims To Abandon Nuclear Power By 2030s

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the election-campaigns-deciding-our-future dept.

Japan 214

mdsolar writes "Reuters reports that the Japanese government said it 'intends to stop using nuclear power by the 2030s, marking a major shift from policy goals set before last year's Fukushima disaster that sought to increase the share of atomic energy to more than half of electricity supply. Japan joins countries such as Germany and Switzerland in turning away from nuclear power ... Japan was the third-biggest user of atomic energy before the disaster. In abandoning atomic power, Japan aims to triple the share of renewable power to 30 percent of its energy mix, but will remain a top importer of oil, coal and gas for the foreseeable future. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's unpopular government, which could face an election this year, had faced intense lobbying from industries to maintain atomic energy and also concerns from its major ally, the United States, which supplied it with nuclear technology in the 1950s.' Meanwhile, the U.S. nuclear renaissance appears to be unraveling."

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They shouldn't abandon it (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41333953)

Just put it off for a while. It can be done safely. The path is obvious.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (0)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334071)

Just put it off for a while. It can be done safely. The path is obvious.

Uhm...., yeah. Until "the 2030's" would qualify as " a while". Jeez, if you can't read TFA, at least read TFS. But you're right, the path is obvious. Move to technologies that don't run the risks of poisoning huge swaths of their nation's limited land.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334107)

Nuclear is cleaner and more efficient than just about every everything.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (5, Interesting)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334259)

Maybe... but it's like air travel. It might be statistically safer, but when it goes wrong it can really go wrong. It's hard to overcome that psychologically, even if it isn't rational.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334451)

How is it "irrational" to assume that existing governments/corporations are not to be trusted with tech this potentially dangerous?

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (3, Interesting)

progician (2451300) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334623)

Good question. Now let's see the reality: Government and corporations are handling virtually everything? And why is the nuclear power plant is more dangerous in the hand of a government than let's say, a hydrogen-bomb? And if the governments and the corporations are the problem, and not the energy source, than people should abolish governments and corporations instead of feeding the politicians with trendy topics, such as this.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (3, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334457)

That's because the designs that everybody associates to a nuclear reactor requires constant monitoring (control rods) and power dependent back-up systems and a massive building.

LFTR has none these design issues.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334865)

Unfortunately it doesn't solve all the other problems Japan had in the wake of the earthquake. For example the cooling system itself appears to have been damaged by lateral forces, meaning even if it was passive it probably wouldn't have worked. Also the spent fuel pool likely boiled off all its coolant and exposed the waste (there is non-fuel waste on-site too) to the air.

Anyway, by the time someone has got enough investment together and actually designed and built a commercial scale thorium reactor, complete with fuel processing and a credible plan for decomissioning it will nearly be 2030 and there will be no need for it. There is a reason no-one is putting LFTR forward as a business plan.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (4, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335011)

Nothing comes without risk. Dependance on imported fuel seems much more risky for Japan than modern LFTR reactors, but if they want to deal with the financial risks of having to buy fuel from imported sources, I pity them.

LFTR reactors are stable when unattended, even right after full power operation. This means that one could build the containment structure in such a way that even with the strongest shaking/bouncing the internal structure would be there and the thing would be safe, even without somebody there to take care of it. The risk of containment breach is greatly reduced because there is no pressure vessel required when the reactor is on its own.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334825)

Statistically safer, only if you don't include long-term damage and cancers that are difficult to attribute, along with long-term economic costs, long-term disposal problems, and so on. The nuclear pitchmen, though, deserve kudos for convincing a country that literally sits on endless supplies of hot water that they should make hot water by hand.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (2, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335443)

>>>Maybe... but it's like air travel. It might be statistically safer, but when it goes wrong it can really go wrong. It's hard to overcome that psychologically, even if it isn't rational.

Yeah but the Japanese are supposed to be rational, intelligent people. I thought they were more intelligent than to abandon Nuclear which is the only real replacement for when the oil becomes scarce. Oh well. Maybe by 2030 when oil skyrockets to $1000 a barrel they will realize they have no choice.

And by the way there's no reason for nuclear to "go wrong". Anybody with sense should have realized building the plant would be hit with a tsunami eventually. They failed to make it tsunami proof (such as putting the electrical generators on the ground where they could be fouled with seawater). It's a case of cutting corners to save money, which should be forbidden.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334425)

Nuclear is cleaner and more efficient than just about every everything.

Solar cell efficiency, new wind farm designs. Hard to make that argument when the "just about" window is ever-expanding (especially 15+ years from now with even more innovation in this space).

Not to mention when a solar array goes "bad", it doesn't force people living on an island to abandon the limited space they have, unlike a nuclear disaster.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (5, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334715)

No, but if 30-40% of your electrical supply is based on the sun shining a tropical storm can kill people dependent on electricity.

There are some people that believe so completely that nuclear power is unsafe that we are going to move from electricity being an always-there reliable energy source to something that is there sometimes and other times not. The biggest thing that comes to mind are home patients that are reliant on some assist device for breathing. Today, such devices plug in the wall because it is assumed that the wall supply is 99.999% reliable. We are going to change that.

In the US the biggest problem with reliability will shortly become simply that we are out of capacity. We haven't built a new major power plant in a long, long time and we aren't likely to do so anytime soon either. We have crippled the electric generation industry with public comment and environmental impact statements to the extent that a small group that is barely organized can block a new generating plant until the plant's sponsor gives up. That is what keeps happening - a plant is proposed, plans are drawn up and goverment approvals and even financing guarantees obtained. Then it is opened to the public and a few people that are fearful of electric power lines can block it. Or it is people that intensely want the US to return to prairie and forest rather than cities and suburbs block it.

In the meantime, growth continues and the margin of overcapacity grows thinner and thinner. We massively overbuilt in the 1950s and 1960s to the extent that we have been able to live off this and a bunch of relatively small "peaker" plants that were designed to run for a few hours a day - they are now running 24x7.

We had an opportunity for the federal goverment to change the rules and make it possible to build a new generating plant in the US. This didn't happen and almost certainly we are going to run out of capacity within the next few years - a time period shorter than it would take to build a new plant and get it online if we started right now. And that would have to be a coal plant - it takes about twice as long to get a nuclear plant built and there is no time for that now.

Either Japan or Germany is likely to be one of the first places to experience a change when electricity is no longer an assured resource for the average homeowner. Germany has the buffer of being able to draw on France and their nuclear power generation but Japan really doesn't. A couple of storms with high winds and clouds would wipe out any solar collection and/or wind generation and leave them in the dark - but it isn't being in the dark that is the problem. It is the people that are at home that are reliant in one way or another on electric power to continue living.

We aren't talking about air conditioning - people in Japan lived for thousands of years without air conditioning and central heating. Germany as well and most parts of the US are fine without air conditioning. What will lead to deaths are the people with the home oxygen concentrators, home ventilators and things like that. For the most part if the power is on for even a few hours a day and at night people's refrigerators will be OK and things like insulin will be fine.

And I would assume most businesses will simply have to have their own generating capacity in one form or another.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334943)

Today, such devices plug in the wall because it is assumed that the wall supply is 99.999% reliable. We are going to change that.

Anyone who depends on a CPAP (for example) for survival already needs a battery backup, because if the machine goes down for too long they could die already. If they are wise they will also have a plan for when that runs out. I don't know what that plan should be for some poor bastard who lives in a context where a generator (even a relatively safe one that operates on propane) is illegal to operate, and/or its fuel illegal to store. Downtown in Santa Cruz for example, the only kind of generator you can really have is one connected to the natural gas mains, which may well not be reliable in the kind of incidents you're likely to have there. This notably includes earthquakes. Further, it has to be sited on a concrete patio so many feet away from a door or operable window, blah blah blah.

And I would assume most businesses will simply have to have their own generating capacity in one form or another.

Generating from what? Japan has serious emissions restrictions. I'd imagine they have strident fuel storage restrictions as well.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (3, Insightful)

firewrought (36952) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335081)

We massively overbuilt in the 1950s and 1960s to the extent that we have been able to live off this and a bunch of relatively small "peaker" plants that were designed to run for a few hours a day - they are now running 24x7.

Methinks you are being somewhat alarmist. Yes, there are a lot regulatory hoops to jump thru, but I don't see peaking units being run 24x7. And modern American business practices is to squeeze the margins on an over-engineered resource instead of preserving the buffer... we've seen this with other things too (for instance, nuke plants getting up-rated based on closer analysis of their potential operating limits). Lastly, don't forget that we have wholesale market that didn't really exist before the mid-90's: each part of the country doesn't have to be nearly as self-reliant as it once did because there's a huge grid to draw on.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335177)

Japan's already experienced what it'd be like - rolling blackouts and other such problems.

Then the solution will be found: build more coal/oil powerplants. How brilliant!

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41335469)

This is right. I spent the summer in Japan this year. It was announced that Kansai Electric was considering planned rolling blackouts in order to deal with the electricity shortage. It didn't happen because they decided to turn back on one of the nuclear plants--over the LOUD objections of the mayors of every city in the region. But it will happen. The OP is right. People will probably change their minds when they can't watch Wheel of Fortune at night or lose their entire freezer of food on a regular basis.

I grew up with regular blackouts. The power grid on my block especially was unreliable. If there was a decent storm, the power went out. And then the basement flooded because the subpump obviously didn't work. If it looked stormy, we had to go downstairs and pick up everything of value off the floor. At some point, we just got tired of it and set a few things up permanently. At this point, you may be asking "why didn't you get a generator to run the subpump and freezer?" In theory, that's great, but a generator must be kept outside. Then you have to run the power hookup into the relevant places (not as easy with a basement). It can all be done, but it's not easy and it's not cheap--and, of course, nor is the generator itself. (It's not as simple as running an extension cord though the house when it's needed.) When people are faced with the decision of spending $5k to guard against blackouts or demand a return to better power...they'll probably just pick the latter.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41335181)

You sir, are poorly informed. The EIA respectfully says " between 2009-2015, 96.65 gigawatts (GW) of new electricity capacity will be added in the United States."

Geothermal (3, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335439)

No, but if 30-40% of your electrical supply is based on the sun shining a tropical storm can kill people dependent on electricity.

Japan should go with Geothermal. There is plenty of hot rock very close to the surface south east of Tokyo. There are also good GT sites close to Nagoya and Osaka. There is enough to meet all of their electricity needs for centuries.

One drawback for GT is minor earthquakes, but Japan has so many of those already, that a few more shouldn't matter.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (1)

Mike_EE_U_of_I (1493783) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335567)

We haven't built a new major power plant in a long, long time and we aren't likely to do so anytime soon either.

Look at figure 95 on this page.

    http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/sector_electric_power_all.cfm#powergen [eia.gov]

    In the accompanying text, the DOE estimates the total new capacity additions to our electric system between 2011 and 2015 will be between 166 and 355 gigawatts.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41335099)

The problem with solar is that it takes a LOT of energy to make a solar panel, and it can be argued that it takes more energy to make a panel than it ever gets back over its lifetime.

If one looks at just the cells themselves, there is one story. However, the energy to make the entire solar collecting system may be a different proposition altogether.

It would be nice to see some accurate figures on this, since solar looks nice, but it really isn't a mainstream energy source.

Without solar, looks like Japan either is stuck importing coal or oil. Maybe geothermal.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334607)

Nuclear is cleaner and more efficient than just about every everything.

Sincerely,

Nuclear Industry Paid Propaganda Shill

  [Posting anonymously because Slashdot is full of those, and they have mod points]

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (2)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335095)

No, he is pretty much correct. Looking at deaths per Mega Watt Hour, and including the deaths from Chernobyl (which was a huge stupid mistake) nuclear energy is hands down safer than fossil fueled generated electricity. I imagine that it's safer than wind power too, and if you start looking at the supply chain for solar generation components I'll bet it will stack up to that too.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41335603)

[Posting anonymously because Slashdot is full of those, and they have mod points]

I'd hazard a guess that Slashdot is filled more with "Those that don't agree with my views are paid shills" types.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334169)

TFS does not say they will stop until the 2030s. It says they will be completely off nuclear by the 2030s, permanently. They can certainly change policy after that point to start using it again, but that it's implied in the summary.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (1, Funny)

Orga (1720130) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334335)

Move to technologies that don't run the risks of poisoning huge swaths of their nation's limited land.

Like windmill farms, giant dams, and solar panel fields.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335599)

Like windmill farms, giant dams, and solar panel fields.

Windmill farms take up very little space, because the land can still be used for other purposes, such as grazing, or growing rice.

Windmills can also be placed in the ocean, where winds are stronger and steadier.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334143)

With their neighbor to the west, they should develop the peaceful uses of the energy. That sounds as though they will abandon energy research in favor of untested alternative energy. With the locations of the countries, they should be trying all sorts of local engeneering applications to ramp up their local production, better generators, collectors, heat generators, underslung generators, wave form generators, water power generators, my word, all sorts of alternate forms of production, none of them used in the US of A, but the best ideas, may yet come, waste generators, or how about household generators, right now only noisey, gas/natural gas/fueled generators are available in the US. At a reasonable cost to the consumer, maybe they could develop and deploy some stuff as seen on Scifi. Or as seen in the historic americas. that would be so cool.

Re:They shouldn't abandon it (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334301)

Their replacement energy sources doesn't seem like a good alternative.

Idiodic politicians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334643)

I couldn't agree more. New technologies like TerraPower's reactor ARE the future. To abandon nuclear is like being a holocaust denier.

Erection? (0)

TorrentFox (1046862) | more than 2 years ago | (#41333959)

"Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's unpopular government, which could face an election this year"

Are elections in Japan held on a need-only basis?

Re:Erection? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334117)

"Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's unpopular government, which could face an election this year"

Are elections in Japan held on a need-only basis?

Evidently [wikipedia.org] in addition to the regular elections at the end of the term.

Re:Erection? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334137)

Sorry that should say evidently [wikipedia.org] The House of Representatives of the Japanese Diet can be dissolved at any time by the Emperor on the advice of the Prime Minister in addition to the regular elections at the end of the term.

Re:Erection? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334319)

Similar thing applies in the Westminster system, it's up to the prime minister when to call the election, the only real limit is that it must be done before the end of their term. If parliament is gridlocked the queen (or her representative) can call an election to unclog things, such a scenario is called a double dissolution and AFAIK was last done here in Oz in the mid-70's when the governor general sacked the government because it's budget was rejected by the senate twice in a row.

Re:Erection? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334699)

Similar thing applies in the Westminster system, it's up to the prime minister when to call the election, the only real limit is that it must be done before the end of their term. If parliament is gridlocked the queen (or her representative) can call an election to unclog things, such a scenario is called a double dissolution and AFAIK was last done here in Oz in the mid-70's when the governor general sacked the government because it's budget was rejected by the senate twice in a row.

That used to be the case until the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 [wikipedia.org] . Now the Westminster parliament can only be dissolved early if there is a vote of no confidence (which is not reversed within 14 days) or with a 2/3 majority - which for practical purposes means the opposition would also have to support it.

Re:Erection? (4, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334125)

Are elections in Japan held on a need-only basis?

Not need-*only*, but when needed, yes. Like any parliamentary system, election are held if the government suffers a vote of no confidence. There's also a set term, at the end of which elections are held regardless, but they can happen early. in Japan, the term for the lower house is four years, but this wouldn't be the first time in recent history that an early election was called; the 2003 lower house went back to the polls in 2005.

Re:Erection? (2, Funny)

rastos1 (601318) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334381)

Yes, the erections are held on need-only basis. You do it differently? ;-D

Re:Erection? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334833)

A lot of countries have variable elections. Via mechanisms that trigger elections or due to elections having a window of time to be held rather than a fixed date.

Australia, for example (since it's the one I've voted in) House of Representative election (which determine who the Government is) must be held within three years of the first sitting, but it can be called early by the Government. It's a silly way of doing things, the current Government already has many advantages in elections also letting them call the election at a time they think is best for then only makes that worse.

And it also has some rules to trigger an election (with the Senate getting included as well) when the Senate won't pass legislation that the House does multiple times: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_dissolution [wikipedia.org]

So "could face an election this year" is always true for Australia, well until the last couple of days of November anyway (33 days is the minimum amount of time between the government calling an election and the day of voting) and in practice earlier than that since having an election around Christmas time would be a really good way to lose.

Don't have to read too far into it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41333969)

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's unpopular government, which could face an election this year

So he's only doing this due to an election, and obviously nuclear is less popular with the people after the incident.
If it's anything like American politics, as soon as they win the election, they'll totally forget.

Re:Don't have to read too far into it. (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334261)

It's probably not anything like American politics. I don't think there's anything in the world like American politics. Which is not to say that they won't forget their promises.

Why does slashdot accept energy submissions... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41333973)

...from a dude that owns a solar-power company? The story is slashdot-worthy, but the tone is partisan fluff. Is he really the only guy submitting this story?

Re:Why does slashdot accept energy submissions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334711)

Meh. They can't get enough power from solar for their needs. Before we know it they'll either be back at nuclear or they'll be invading the South China Sea again for oil.

Re:Why does slashdot accept energy submissions... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334775)

To be fair TFA does actually say they are planning to drop nuclear by the 2030s, and other sources [nhk.or.jp] agree. The guy is a wanker but unfortunately he was the first one to get this story voted onto the front page, so let's get on with the debate.

Re:Why does slashdot accept energy submissions... (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334871)

from a dude that owns a solar-power company

This isn't wikipedia, you can submit a story about yourself if you want, and if it is deemed interesting it will go to the front page.

Is he really the only guy submitting this story?

Which parts of his submission do you take exception to, whoever you are besides a coward?

$5 says this story is more inaccurate than usual (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41333983)

Oh man, a mdsolar story. I was beginning to miss his astroturf shenanigans.

Re:$5 says this story is more inaccurate than usua (1)

Quakeulf (2650167) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334543)

He missed the point of spelling "Nuclear" the correct American way: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nucular [wikipedia.org]

Moronic, absolutely moronic. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41333991)

Nuclear power is a damn better sight than oil is, that is for sure.

Just because some cheapskate made a nuclear reactor as cheaply as they possibly could have doesn't mean nuclear power is bad.
That reactor was as bad as the one in Springfield in The Simpsons! It is the real life incarnation of it!
Nuclear reactors are safe. What isn't safe are the morons who make them without having their inspections done and kept to reasonable standards in an unsafe area.

Japan itself is what is unsafe! Someone save Japan from itself, please.
No, not you America. Not you at all. Put your hand down America.

Re:Moronic, absolutely moronic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334041)

The expression is "damn sight better", moron. And you can't make fertilizers or fly planes without oil, dummkopf.

Re:Moronic, absolutely moronic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334217)

Since this sub-thread is all about making people look stupid, the parent was obviously talking about consumer power generation.

Which make sense, given that the story is about, you know, consumer power generation....

Re:Moronic, absolutely moronic. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334303)

Both can be made from biofuels. If that is worth doing or not is another question.

Re:Moronic, absolutely moronic. (1, Informative)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334793)

Biofuel production in Japan? You are kidding, right?

What little of Japan that can be farmed is needed desperately for food and still they import food. They "invented" the idea of Kobe beef because while they have cattle they really don't have room for grazing. Kobe beef is where they pamper the steer in a stall and fatten it up on beer rather than letting it graze. Sort of like veal in the US but veal is done with milk instead of beer. You don't invent stuff like this without a compelling need, and their compelling need is no space for grazing.

Not sure what drove the invention of veal.

Biofuel production may be something that we want to rethink anyway, considering the effects on food prices currently. If higher food prices lead to more overthrown governments, we might want to back off of that. Or get instructed by a group of nations whose governments really like the idea of stability.

Re:Moronic, absolutely moronic. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335119)

I said could, not should.

Dairy farming drove the invention of veal. What else do you do with all the male calves?

Re:Moronic, absolutely moronic. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334185)

I agree with all of what you have said, but the reality is people oppose regulation then make these same claims. Either nuclear power has to be highly regulated or that is the predictable result.

Re:Moronic, absolutely moronic. (1)

BVis (267028) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334405)

This. A nuclear power plant isn't something you want someone cutting corners on. As long as there's a profit motive in nuclear energy production, corners will be cut to lower costs, regulation be damned.

Personally, I'd rather see us continue to be dependent on oil than pursue nuclear power as a solution to all our energy problems. In theory, yes, it's safe and efficient. In practice, people are idiots and if lowering safety standards means you save $500, they're going to do it.

Re:Moronic, absolutely moronic. (2, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334911)

Why do you hate America? Obviously, the power companies that cut corners will kill more people and therefore have fewer customers than the companies that don't cut corners and kill fewer people. See? The market solves everything.

Re:Moronic, absolutely moronic. (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335285)

I am all for nuclear power. However, there is one thing I am leery about:

There is zero responsibility that can be assigned the builder of plants if something goes wrong in the US. A contractor could make a reactor head out of pot metal, cut corners many ways, and end up with a non-functioning, dangerous construction. The owners of the contracting business will be able to walk away with the cash from the contract without worry, leaving it up to the US taxpayers to deal with another Superfund site. In fact, the company could be owned offshore so there is zero recourse, criminal or civil to completely ignoring any regulations.

China is having a nuclear renassiance right now. They ensure that the contractors are doing the job right or heads will roll, literally.

Because of that, combined with a permanent ban on any new plant construction, large installations likely will not happen unless there is a major sea change in US politics.

The main hope for the US is with the smaller, portable plants/reactors that can be mass produced, then dropped into place. A number of small reactors in the megawatt range is probably the wave of the future as opposed to the large 2-4 GW plants that were on the books in the 1970s.

Re:Moronic, absolutely moronic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41335151)

Japan itself is what is unsafe! Someone save Japan from itself, please. No, not you America. Not you at all. Put your hand down America.

Ok.. Well we did it once and it turned out OK after '45... You are welcome...

Someone better tell TEPCO (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334017)

They have even been repairing units 5 and 6 at Fukushima Daiachii to go back on line within the next few years. All other nuclear plants are being repaired and re-fitted. It looks like a long way from a plan to phase out nuclear power any time soon.

Re:Someone better tell TEPCO (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334557)

Well, 2030 is not soon, and another government with more backbone can then extend and expand it.

But nuclear power is perfect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334113)

...and nothing ever goes wrong! What a bunch of luddites!

Japan Aims To Abandon Nuclear Power (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334115)

Again! [wikipedia.org]

Global Warming (2, Insightful)

puddingebola (2036796) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334119)

The way I have seen the debate presented:

1. The world runs on fossil fuels primarily

2. Fossil fuels contribute to global warming

3. The world needs energy sources that don't contribute to global warming

4. Atomic energy does not produce CO2, but questions about its safety (Chernobyl, Fukushima, 3 mile) or public worries about its safety persist

5. Renewable energy sources, in there current state, can't satisfy current or projected demand for energy

6. Oh no.

Re:Global Warming (4, Informative)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334619)

The real solution are LFTR reactors.

No more enrichment, ever.
Cheap fuel (currently is a waste product of mining)
No more 100+ Atmosphere pressure vessels to burst
No more backup generators needed
Accidental meltdowns are impossible
Turn reactor on/off in hours/minutes not months
Unable to weaponize any part of fuel or waste.
Needs Uranium only to start the reactor
Creates leukemia fighting medical isotopes from waste
Creates isotopes for space-grade batteries for NASA from waste
Very little waste is left-over and it's radioactive for about 300 years.
Prototype was run for 5 years+ in the 70s.
Both China and India are working on it (and THEY will get the patents)

Issues:
-Regulations set by existing Nuke industry.
-"Nuclear is bad" mentality of public and politicians.

Re:Global Warming (0)

samkass (174571) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334855)

Add one more thing to the Issues list:
- It doesn't exist.

Yes, there is lots of promising research on all sorts of reactor designs, but it's no more the "real" solution that fusion or self-contained mini-reactors... it's one possibility being researched.

Re:Global Warming (2)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334955)

Except this one has been proven to work.

It didn't provide jobs in the right place of the US so it was canned.

Re:Global Warming (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335581)

Except "proven to work" in this case means that some people showed that the theory is sound, and it is possible to generate electricity that way. The engineering problems behind scaling this reactor up to commercial levels have NOT been overcome.

Re:Global Warming (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335123)

The real solution are LFTR reactors.

Unless, of course, they get scooped by LENR reactors [wired.co.uk] .

(Hey, a guy can dream)

Re:Global Warming (5, Informative)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334883)

Your idea of problems with nuclear power are interesting.

Three Mile Island really affected nobody - not even plant workers. It is somewhat of a blot on the history of nuclear power, but there are plenty of those anyway.

Chernobyl was caused by a stupid test that was mismanaged - sort of a stupid on top of a stupid. There has certainly been some health considerations for a few thousand people and it is likely the most widespread effect of nuclear power, ever. And it would be nice if it stayed that way. But, there is no accounting for stupid.

Fukushima could have been forseen, but the environmental conditions were a bit extreme. Part of the problem is and continues to be spent fuel storage. We should be reprocessing this but because the fuel rods contain plutonium this is viewed as a way to make bombs and strictly forbidden right now. So we are all waiting around for either a reprocessing plant or two to be built - since the 1950s - or for there to be constructed a disposal site - since the 1960s at least.

Probably 90% of the problems with nuclear power could be solved by having a small number of reprocessing plants for spent fuel rods built. Understand that the fuel rods have been only around 5% "spent" and could be reprocessed into new fuel rods with the 95% of the active materials still present in them. The "no reprocessing" philosophy is like having a car that spews 95% of the gasoline out the tailpipe unburned and leaving this situation for 50 years.

Godzilla (1)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334147)

Silly Japan, how are you going to fend off all of those space aliens without giant nuclear powered mecha?

Lets wait what the next 20 Japanese PMs say ... (4, Informative)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334183)

In fact, it could be more than 20 prime ministers until that time.

The big question is, whether Japan is even capable of doing anything like this at all. They have been unable to implement internationally widespread safety measures that the contructors of the very reactors recommended, that have been destroyed in the accident. And that would have been cheap, less than $10bn for all 50 reactors, yet the Japanese didn't. And this isn't a singular experience.

Japan has stagnated economically for the last 25 years. Last year, the global shortage of harddisks wasn't down to the tsunami in Japan, but a flood in Thailand of all places. (Which intends to build at least 5 nuclear reactors, btw.) Currently, Japan is paying on the order of $30bn on imports per year to very imperfectly compensate for the lack of nuclear power - "volontary" blackouts and shutdown are continuing as power saving measures during the summer. And unlike other expenditures, Japan can't pay for this with domestic debt, because they actually have to pay a foreign country in foreign currency - which is unsustainable in the long run without a source of income, which hasn't been forthcoming in Japan for the last quarter of a century. And as Steins Law says, this will stop.

Renewable energy is expensive and no country has as yet installed anything in the way of the infrastructure require to use them on more than a small scale. So far, only the low-hanging fruits have been picked that stress the existing infrastructure to its limit. And Japan, being an island with two separate power systems, is in an even worse position than just about any other country imaginable.

The question for anyone outside Japan isn't just whether Japan will be capable of pulling it off. The question isn't just if one of the regularly resigning Prime Ministers of Japan turns his or her back to this policy and makes it null and void. The actual question is whether, by 2040, Japan is still going to matter.

Re:Lets wait what the next 20 Japanese PMs say ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334437)

Renewable energy is expensive and no country has as yet installed anything in the way of the infrastructure require to use them on more than a small scale

Germany gets ~25% of its energy from renewables.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/26/germany-renewables-idUSL6E8IQIA720120726 [reuters.com]

Germany again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41335115)

Has no one else been wondering why Germany is being seen as a utopia with all of the answers, recently? Most news stories that come out about anything to do with world politics lately have some blow-hard from Germany talking about how great their country is, and how much better the world would be if everyone did what they say. Any blog post/any other website post that comes out also has a story in the comments about how great life is in Germany in some fashion. I don't know why, but it makes me uncomfortable.

Re:Lets wait what the next 20 Japanese PMs say ... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334453)

The big question is, whether Japan is even capable of doing anything like this at all.

There is no question, Japan was forced to do it when almost all reactors were taken offline simultaneously in the wake of the earthquake, and coped quite well.

They have been unable to implement internationally widespread safety measures that the contructors of the very reactors recommended, that have been destroyed in the accident. And that would have been cheap, less than $10bn for all 50 reactors, yet the Japanese didn't. And this isn't a singular experience.

Which highlights just how broken the nuclear energy market is. The main problem is that $10bn is a lot to the nuclear industry, what with their shareholders demanding profits. The risk seemed remote and besides which the government was always going to pick up most of the tab if something did go wrong.

That's the bottom line really, either way it would have been $10bn out of the taxpayer's pocket.

And actually it if you had been following recent events you would know that it has recently been discovered at Fukushima that the earthquake damaged some of the internal ducting and possibly a critical valve, previously unforseen dangers that contributed to the meltdowns. So even if the recommended changes had been made it might not have helped, and besides which the best reactor designs in the world are only certified for a magnitude 7.6 quake, and this was magnitude 9.

Japan has stagnated economically for the last 25 years.

Not really. There was the lost decade but then things went well for a while, before the whole world economy turned to shit again.

"volontary" blackouts and shutdown are continuing as power saving measures during the summer.

Citation? All blackouts were avoided this summer.

Renewable energy is expensive

Be specific, do you mean hydro, wind, solar PV, solar thermal collector, wave, geothermal or something else? Actually most of those are a lot cheaper than nuclear already, especially in Japan now that Fukushima is factored into the cost.

Re:Lets wait what the next 20 Japanese PMs say ... (0)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334489)

The actual question is whether, by 2040, Japan is still going to matter.

Yes, it will be. They just secured their future as leaders in renewable energy by embarking on an ambitious project to develop it. Germany, Scotland and Japan are going to be the leaders, with China and a few other EU states close behind.

The actual question is whether, by 2040, nuclear is still going to matter.

Re:Lets wait what the next 20 Japanese PMs say ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334613)

Japan has $1.27 Trillion of foreign reserves - that would cover the discrepancy for over 40 years.

$30bn/year is nothing to Japan.

Most of Japan's economic problems could be solved by merely devaluing the Yen.

Re:Lets wait what the next 20 Japanese PMs say ... (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335101)

Renewable energy is expensive and no country has as yet installed anything in the way of the infrastructure require to use them on more than a small scale.

Could you tell Norwegians that?

Re:Lets wait what the next 20 Japanese PMs say ... (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335259)

Sorry, but Slartibartfast didn't get his way all over the world.

Political Posturing (3, Interesting)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334199)

Japan is a tiny, resource-poor but energy-hungry country. Nuclear energy is the only thing that makes sense economically. What are they going to replace it with? Oil? Natural gas? Those sources come from so far away and from such temperamental suppliers that it's too risky to depend on long-term.
To get reelected Japanese politicians have to put on an anti-nuclear Kibuki theatre to placate the masses. But the fact is they'll never give up nuclear and "renewable" energy sources won't ever put even a dent in their supersized energy demand.

Re:Political Posturing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334665)

"What are they going to replace it with? Oil? Natural gas? Those sources come from so far away and from such temperamental suppliers that it's too risky to depend on long-term."

Er comes from Australia ... but yeah I guess the Aussis can be a bit tempermental

Re:Political Posturing (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335219)

I was under the impression Japan bought much of its oil from Iran. Talk about temperamental.

Re:Political Posturing (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334813)

Jesus fucking Christ Slashdot, how did this guy get modded up?

What are they going to replace it with? Oil? Natural gas?

TFS and TFA both state clearly that the intention is to boost renewable energy to 30% of the mix or more. Before 11/3 Nuclear accounted for about 23% of Japan's electricity, so the plan is quite clear.

Re:Political Posturing (1, Insightful)

acoustix (123925) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334893)

TFS and TFA both state clearly that the intention is to boost renewable energy to 30% of the mix or more. Before 11/3 Nuclear accounted for about 23% of Japan's electricity, so the plan is quite clear.

Let me know when you find a renewable energy source that provides constant power 24/7/365.

Re:Political Posturing (2)

gonzonista (790137) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335017)

Geothermal?

Re:Political Posturing (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335257)

Let me know when you find a renewable energy source that provides constant power 24/7/365.

How about this [wikipedia.org] , or this [wikipedia.org] or this [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Political Posturing (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335019)

Jesus fucking Christ Slashdot, how did this guy get modded up?

What are they going to replace it with? Oil? Natural gas?

TFS and TFA both state clearly that the intention is to boost renewable energy to 30% of the mix or more. Before 11/3 Nuclear accounted for about 23% of Japan's electricity, so the plan is quite clear.

Clearly stated intentions and actual reality are two separate things. You must be very gullible to believe everything the gubmint tells you.

Re:Political Posturing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41335495)

Japan is a tiny, resource-poor but energy-hungry country. Nuclear energy is the only thing that makes sense economically. What are they going to replace it with? Oil? Natural gas?

Wave motion, obviously. Duh. Solves every problem in Japan.

No increase then (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334225)

If they increase their renewables to 30% of their total then that will more than replace current nuclear capacity, so their use of oil and coal for electricity won't go up. Furthermore you would actually expect it to go down as people switch to electric vehicles.

Uninformed foreigner sez... (0)

markdowling (448297) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334313)

put a "renewable energy tax" on pachinko machines and video billboards. Solve that whole polling problem for nukes in no time.

Flip side of nuclear safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334337)

When the day comes that there are no nuclear power stations in Japan they will be safer during the inevitable skirmish with the Fenqing.

This'll be fun. (1)

RevDisk (740008) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334365)

18.1% of Japan's power is nuclear generated. That's going to be a lot of fossil fuels, which must be imported. Importing large amounts of fossil fuels requires quite a bit of transportation, which also consumes resources as Japan has very little in the way of fossil fuels. Good for exporters, of course.

Replacing nearly a fifth of your country's power generation with ANY replacement is very expensive, time consuming process. Gearing up 44,000 MW is going to be entertaining. Renewables are not going to be very feasible, as Japan doesn't have lots of cheap land for it. Funny enough, burning coal tends to release plenty of radiation.

There's no easy choice. Nuclear power requires a high level of attention to detail, fanatical safety protocols and serious long term planning. It's complicated by social bias against building safer nuclear power and international politics. Renewables just can't economically hack it, at the moment. I hope they do someday, but not today. The third, unliked but default opinion is fossil fuels. Germany can get away with closing their nuclear plants by buying French nuclear energy. Japan really doesn't have that option. MAYBE if South Korea ramps up their nuclear power program, but I'm not familiar with any extremely large scale submarine power lines. Not on this scale, not anywhere close.

nuclear is safe (4, Informative)

ssam (2723487) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334385)

Nuclear power has an very low deaths per kWh, even when you include chernobyl, 3mile island and fukushima ( http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html [nextbigfuture.com] ). chernobyl is a terrible design (as the coolant boils, the reaction goes faster. fail), nothing like that could happen in any modern (by which i mean anything made in last few decades).

Switching to any other form of power generation will cost lives.

From a environmental point of view, suppose japan can build enough wind and solar to replace nuclear (big job on the scale of a war effort), if they did that along side nuclear they would be reducing carbon emissions. if you do it instead of nuclear then you are standing still. Now take a look at this http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ [noaa.gov] and have a read of IPCC, and explain how we are going to not hit 400 ppm.

And China is using nuclear (1)

JOrgePeixoto (853808) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335029)

These nuclear-phobic countries will be out-competed by China.

Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334533)

Look another anti-nuclear posting from mdsolar!

Not gonna happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41334537)

They won't abandon it - 2030s is plenty long enough to fully turn public opinion, especially in a small island nation with limited access to natural resources. The recent news at the end of "setsuden" (ie: limited use of electricity in summer) was comprised mostly of comparisons of energy prices prior to the short-term nuclear shutdown and during the shutdown. There were already a lot of people saying that they didn't want to abandon the energy source.

Nuclear (3, Insightful)

Bensam123 (1340765) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334761)

People shouldn't be turning away from nuclear, they should be embracing it. One of the greatest discoveries in the last 100 years and people are shying away from it because of teething issues. Of course the teething issues left huge marks, but so do a lot of things of tremendous amounts of potential and power. Leaps and bounds have been made in the field too. Everyone wants to get back to the basics, but harnessing the atom still remains an extremely viable option, let alone what would happen if it went mainstream.

Stuff like this really makes me sad. It's made me sad ever since I learned about nuclear power and found out it was never widely used... It made me ask why. And so far, after all these years, the only reason I can come up with is fear.

There are only a few options, so far (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#41334763)

to shut nuclear plants down at a "country" level.
Either you reduce (axe) your power hunger, or you buy electricity from another country.
Replacing that by natural resources (non renewable) would be overkilling for the health.
There's also the theoretical renewable energy solution. But the time and the investments needed would scare all politicians.
A solution at planetary level it's a different thing. Probably photo-voltaic plants in a few main deserts plus a planetary power grid could be enough.
But also this would scare all politicians!
So, forget it.

Too be fair... (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335049)

We provided them with some of our nuclear technology in the 1940s, too.

they can do it right now (1)

Max_W (812974) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335061)

Just changing business dress-code from heavy suites to shorts and t-shirts, business style certainly. Allowing people to dry clothings outdoors on special dryers.

All is needed is a development of a new modern business style fashion and outdoor driers which look esthetically acceptable. It seems to be doable and relatively law-cost tasks.

Re:they can do it right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41335529)

Clearly, you've never been to Japan in the summer. The "cool biz" style (what you describe) is nice and all, but Lord oh Lord, does it get hot in the summer. It's like saying "short and t-shirts" make Texas summers bearable. They don't.

And people always dry their clothes outside because the power is limited to 100V. If you've owned an electric dryer on 220V, you know that it doesn't work nearly as well as a gas dryer. Now imagine that with half the power available to it....

I blame the media. (3, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#41335537)

The plant took an earthquake *and* flooding, and yet still the radiation leakage into the surrounding area was negligable. Containment held, even if it did need a bit of improvised emergency cooling. That was on an old plant design - if it had been built to a more modern design, there would have been no need even for that. And yet if you watched the television coverage, it looked like Chenobyl II. There was more airtime given to that nuclear plant than to all the rest of Japan put together, so it is no surprise people were terrified. The media played-up the nuclear aspect, because nuclear means scarey and scarey means viewers. And viewers mean money.
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