Archive for the ‘Nuclear Power’ Category

Bill Clinton stopped North Korea’s nuclear weapons program – back in 1994

January 6, 2016

Though N Korea’s claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb have not yet been confirmed, it is worth remembering how Bill Clinton made a deal that he claimed would stop N Korea’s nuclear weapons aspirations in 1994.

NY TimesOctober 22nd 1994:

After almost four months of difficult negotiations, the United States and North Korea signed an agreement today to end their dispute over North Korea’s nuclear program but kept secret many details of how the accord will be put into effect. ……

After the signing today, North Korea’s chief negotiator, Kang Sok Ju, described it as “a very important milestone document of historic significance” that would resolve his country’s nuclear dispute with the United States “once and for all.” He said the agreement, once put into effect, would resolve “all questions of the so-called nuclear weapons development by North Korea” that have raised “such unfounded concerns and suspicions.” “We have neither the intention nor the plan to develop nuclear weapons,” Mr. Kang said.

At a news conference in Washington, President Clinton said the treaty was “a good deal for the United States.” “The United States and international inspectors will carefully monitor North Korea to make sure it keeps its commitments,” he said. “Only as it does so will North Korea fully join the community of nations.”

Stevengoddard notes the similarities between Clinton/N Korea and Obama/Iran

2016-01-06-11-52-03

Clinton/N Korea vs. Obama/Iran

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European nuclear moratoria are ineffective and counter-productive as China plans 110 nuclear plants by 2030

October 18, 2015

Update! Numbers have been corrected. By 2030 China plans 110 nuclear plants in operation which is another 60 reactors in addition to the 50 currently in operation or under construction. (I had earlier assumed that the plan was for 110 new reactors).


The European nuclear industry is almost dead as a consequence of,

  1. the ban on nuclear power in countries which have succumbed to environmental political correctness (e.g. Sweden, Germany…)
  2. the ridiculously long and costly permitting processes (environment and safety) in countries where nuclear power has not been banned (UK, Finland…)

As a contribution to the global use (or non-use) of nuclear power, the European reluctance to use nuclear power is entirely meaningless. For the objectives of killing the European nuclear industry and raising costs for electrical power in Europe, the anti-nuclear lobby has been entirely successful.

China currently has 23 nuclear plants in operation and 27 under construction which will be in operation by 2020. By 2020 the Chinese nuclear generating capacity will have almost tripled from the 21GW, 2014 level to be about 58GW in 2020. They have just announced their next five-year plan and some long-term strategies. Another $78 billion has been earmarked to reach 110 nuclear plants in operation by 2030. These plants will be built using indigenous Chinese technology. This technology is now available for export. It is being actively considered for projects in Pakistan and Argentina and now China is even a possible investor in the UK. Each Chinese nuclear plant has a capacity of about 1.1GW (1,100MW). At $78 billion for a further 60 plants, the investment cost planned is about $1200/kW. This is incredibly low, not just for nuclear plant, but for any type of power generating plant. Even assuming a volume effect, it can be expected that Chinese nuclear power plants could be exported at about $1,200-1500/kW.

The Hindu:

China plans to build 110 nuclear power plants by 2030 with an investment of over $78 billion overtaking the U.S. which has 100 such plants amid criticism that Beijing is yet to implement enough measures to develop safety controls in existing projects.

China will build six to eight nuclear power plants annually for the next five years and operate 110 plants by 2030 to meet the urgent need for clean energy, Beijing-based China Times quoted plan analysts as saying. China will invest 500 billion yuan ($78.8 billion) on domestically developed nuclear power plants, the report said. According to the China Times, the country plans to increase its electricity generation capacity to 58 gigawatts by 2020, three times the 2014 level. 

China currently has 23 nuclear power generating units in operation and 27 under construction, about one-third of the world’s unfinished nuclear units.

The construction resumed after the Chinese government which put the brakes on nuclear power plant approvals after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in 2011 permitted their construction after a safety review.

nuclear sites in china (graphic world-nuclear.org)

nuclear sites in china (graphic world-nuclear.org)

In Europe the Olkiluoto #3 nuclear plant of 1,600MW in Finland, was first expected to cost about $2,000/kW, but with all the delays and cost overruns it is going to end up costing about $5,300/kW. Even if the unnecessary approvals and cost overruns incurred just to satisfy the environmental lobbies were not there, the investment cost for new nuclear capacity in Europe would still be about $2,600-3000/kW (compare that with about $1,100/kW for gas fired plant, about $2,500/kW for a coal or onshore wind plant and about $6,800/kW for offshore wind power).

As a comparison, India currently has 21 nuclear rectors in operation with a capacity just under 6GW. A further 6 reactors giving another 4 GW are under construction. The Indian plan is to reach about 63GW of nuclear capacity by 2032 which, of course, will not happen. My experience of Indian power planning is that about 60% of the plan will be implemented (though the track record is improving). So it is quite probable that India will construct around another 40 nuclear reactors (@800MW/reactor on average) by 2032. (In that period Indian coal consumption would also have trebled).

At the Chinese cost of exporting nuclear plant for around $1,200-1,500/kW, it is only to be expected that the electrification of Africa and nuclear expansion in S. Asia will be satisfied to a large extent by nuclear power.  A big chunk of that would be with Chinese technology. I have no doubt that European nuclear plants operate to much higher safety standards than the current Chinese reactors, but the European nuclear industry is now dead and it is Chinese nuclear technology which will be affordable and will prevail.

Considering the goals it was set out to achieve, the European anti-nuclear stance has been totally ineffective (except locally in Europe) and grossly counter-productive:

  1. it has no long-term impact on global use of nuclear energy,
  2. it has effectively killed the European nuclear power industry,
  3. it has effectively reduced the safety levels of all those nuclear plants that will be built over the next two decades, and
  4. it has increased the cost of electric power in Europe.

It is worth remembering that while the Great 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami killed some 18,000 people in Japan, the Fukushima accident it caused has killed no-one directly due to radiation. Now, less than 30 years after the major disaster at Chernobyl, the area is very far from being some nuclear waste-land, and plant and wild-life are thriving as never before in the region.

Iran deal is done, Bibi unhappy, Greek deal done, Greeks unhappy.

July 14, 2015

Reuters and other anonymous sources are reporting that an Iran deal has been done.

Greece yesterday, Iran today, what’s for tomorrow?

Bibi is neither pleased nor amused. A “pre-emptive” strike by Israel on Iran now becomes that much more difficult. Saudi Arabia will not be too pleased either. If sanctions are  lifted and also on weapons sales by Iran then we can see the pro-Iranian factions across the Middle East getting a boost. Which will probably constrain the advance of ISIS somewhat (and whatever the Saudis might say it is private Saudi money funding the barbarians). The pro-Iranian factions in Syria and Iraq will not only get a boost, they may also be more successful on the ground than the US-led coalition.

However Saudi Arabia will not be too unhappy about the additional downward pressure on oil prices. It will be sometime before Iran can ramp up production and during this time, low-cost Saudi oil will win further market share. Though Saudi Arabia failed to wipe out shale oil from the US, it is still increasing production and contributing further to the current oil glut. Saudi seems to be pursuing a revised strategy of keeping oil prices relatively low for 2 years or more in a war of attrition against the higher-cost oil producers. Market share is perceived as their prime weapon to try and get rid of the higher-cost producers. But I think they have miscalculated even here. A discontinued shale oil well can be restarted with very little investment and at very short notice. Production costs of shale oil have decreased sharply. Shale oil developers will just ramp their production up and down depending upon the prevailing oil price. And the larger shale oil wells can make money even with oil prices down at $40/ barrel.

It isn’t quite time for vacation yet in Europe (apart from Sweden which is closed for July). Some kind of framework resolution for the whole package of the 3rd bailout needs to be passed by the Greek parliament by tomorrow. Some resistance is showing today but the resolution will surely pass. Of course that says nothing about the Greek government’s implementation of all they have signed up for. Their track record of implementing what has been solemnly promised is not good. And if the reports today that the ECB will not be pumping liquidity willy-nilly into the Greek banks are correct, then the banking system will have to start issuing IOU’s to keep functioning while the negotiations are concluded. That will effectively be an alternative currency and it won’t be long before the IOU’s start trading at a different value to par. A currency by another name than “Euro” is still a Grexit for as long as that currency is used.

But an Iran back in the international fold is undoubtedly a good thing.

Saudi Arabia, Netanyahu and GOP make unusual bedfellows

March 16, 2015

The nuclear non-proliferation treaty is fundamentally flawed. Establishing a monopoly for some selected countries is unsustainable in the long run. But the opposition of the GOP, Benjamin Netanyahu and now Saudi Arabia to any nuclear deal with Iran makes an unholy alliance against a deal but which is counter-productive. It provides an unusual indication that Barack Obama – by accident rather than by design – is on the right track with his negotiations with Iran. The general expectation of course is that a deal is inevitable. It will be reached (at some time if not now) where Iran will – with certain safeguards – continue the enrichment of uranium for the production of nuclear fuels and the UN sanctions will be lifted. As far as nuclear weapons are concerned, no international treaty can succeed unless all member countries sign up to the same obligations. It cannot be a few reserving special positions for themselves and imposing different obligations on all others. Four of the nine nuclear countries are not signatories to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

SIPRI: At the start of 2014 nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea—possessed approximately 4000 operational nuclear weapons. If all nuclear warheads are counted, these states together possessed a total of approximately 16 300 nuclear weapons (see table 1) compared to 17 270 in early 2013.  

…. all five legally recognized nuclear weapon states—China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA—are either deploying new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have announced programmes to do so. India and Pakistan continue to develop new systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons and are expanding their capacities to produce fissile material for military purposes.

There is an emerging consensus in the expert community that North Korea has produced a small number of nuclear weapons, as distinct from rudimentary nuclear explosive devices.

world nuclear forces 2014

* ‘Deployed’ means warheads placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces.

Source: SIPRI Yearbook 2014 

The GOP letter to Iran makes for an interesting precedent. It emphasises – again – that the US is now highly polarised  and that the government does not represent a very large section of the country. But the GOP actions (their Iran letter and their invitation to Netanyahu to make a speech) are primarily about opposing Obama and secondly about supporting Netanyahu. The support is for Bibi himself and not for any “socialist Israel” which they – and Netanyahu – fear. (In fact most of the Republican business world would quite welcome the lifting of UN sanctions).

Netanyahu’s opposition to any deal with Iran is not unexpected. Israel is the sole nuclear force in the region and this underpins its existence. Even its massive superiority in conventional forces could not prevail against another country in the region prepared to use nuclear weapons. The deterrence strategy – based on overwhelming superiority – which has served Israel very well would fail against a more “equal” opponent who was more ready to use nuclear force than Israel. “A mad mullah would be more ready to destroy himself while destroying the enemy than a mad rabbi”.

The Saudi Arabia opposition to anything which benefits Iran is the front-line of the Shia – Sunni war. Moreover Saudi has plans to build 16 nuclear plants over the next 20 years. The idea that Iran could produce nuclear fuel while they had to import all theirs is unthinkable. Anything Iran gets is something that Saudi Arabia also must have.

BBC: A senior member of the Saudi royal family has warned that a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme could prompt other regional states to develop atomic fuel. Prince Turki al-Faisal told the BBC that Saudi Arabia would then seek the same right, as would other nations.

Six world powers are negotiating an agreement aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear activity but not ending it. Critics have argued this would trigger a nuclear arms race in the region spurred on by Saudi-Iran rivalry.

“I’ve always said whatever comes out of these talks, we will want the same,” said the prince, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief. “So if Iran has the ability to enrich uranium to whatever level, it’s not just Saudi Arabia that’s going to ask for that. The whole world will be an open door to go that route without any inhibition, and that’s my main objection to this P5+1 [the six world powers] process.”

…… Riyadh has also signed nuclear co-operation agreements with China, France and Argentina, and intends to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years. ….. 

Finland approves new Russian nuclear plant

December 5, 2014

Russia’s Rosatom had offered a to supply the reactor for the 1,200 megawatt Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant for Fennovoima at Pyhäjoki in north-east Finland. The Finnish government had required Finnish ownership of greater than 60% as a condition for granting a license for construction. Construction is planned to start in 2015 for the plant to be in operation in 2024. With Finnish Fortum now taking a 15% share in the project, Finnish ownership now exceeds 65%.

The Finnish parliament has this morning has given the basic approval for construction to start.

Reuters:

Finland’s parliament on Friday approved plans to build a new nuclear plant supplied by Russia’s state-owned Rosatom despite East-West tensions over the Ukraine crisis.

With support from 115 parliamentarians against 74 opposed, the vote comes at a time when the European Union has called for EU member states to curb energy deals with Russia.

The Fennovoima reactor in northern Finland, which will be supplied and fuelled by Rosatom, is expected to begin output in 2024.

Hanhikivi 1

The AES-2006 model proposed for the Hanhikivi site (source: Fennovoima)

NEI: Finland’s Fennovoima and Rusatom Overseas have signed a Project Development Agreement aiming at a nuclear power plant supply contract for Hanhikivi 1 to be signed by the end of 2013.

The companies have set “common targets,” according to which negotiations will be carried out. They are also in talks over the possibility of Rusatom Overseas acquiring a 34% stake in Fennovoima.

The Russian 1200 MW AES-2006 pressurized water reactor (VVER) is being considered for the Hanhikivi 1 project, in northern Finland. The plant corresponds with IAEA and EUR requirements, according to Rusatom Overseas. However, for licensing purposes it “will be adapted to be in accordance with Finnish national safety standards.”

Direct negotiations with Rusatom Overseas begun in April 2013. Talks also started with Toshiba in February 2013, but will now only continue with the Russian firm.

Fennovoima, which is owned by 60 companies representing industry, trade, and energy sectors from all around Finland, said that before a plant supply contract is signed, all of Fennovoima’s owners must decide on their continuation in the project.

Foto: Fennovoima

Image Fennovoima

 

 

Adapting to climate change requires the further development and use of fossil fuels

July 31, 2014

The single thing that differentiates the human species from every other known species on earth has been the control and use of fire.The step change then from primitive to modern humans has been due not least to the control and development of the combustion process and the utilisation of fossil fuels. This in turn has multiplied many times the intensity of energy available to be harnessed by man. I would suggest that the human capability of handling change is largely a function of the power intensity available.

power intensity

power intensity

Fossil fuels have been demonised (by association with carbon dioxide emissions) for the last 30 years. In spite of that most  of the growth in the developing world has been – and continues to be – powered by fossil fuels. Fortunately the lack of evidence of any significant linkage between man-made carbon dioxide and global warming  (which is still the politically correct ideology) is beginning to be realised. The unnecessary, misplaced and ineffective increase of electricity prices in countries which have curtailed their use of fossil fuels has prolonged the recession and has cost many millions of jobs.

We have now had almost 20 years with the highest level ever of fossil fuel utilisation but “global temperature” has remained stubbornly static. In the last decade global temperatures have declined slightly. The hypothesised link between man-made carbon dioxide (which constitutes only about 3% of carbon dioxide emissions) and global temperature is well and truly broken. All the various climate computer models – which build on this link being amplified – have failed miserably.

The indicators of a global cooling cycle having started are piling up.

  1. There is more ice in the antarctic than has ever been measured
  2. There is more ice in the arctic than about a decade ago
  3. Total ice cover is higher now than has ever been measured
  4. Ice cover on the Great Lakes reached levels not seen for over 50 years and has persisted into the spring (even summer) later than has been observed for at least 40 years.
  5. The expected super El Nino forecast for this year has been dampened by a cooling Pacific and only a mild El Nino event – if at all – is now to be expected
  6. Sea level rises are no different to the long term average for sea level recovery since the last glacial minimum and may even have slowed.
  7. The deep oceans are cooling and are no repository of “hidden heat”
  8. The net cooling effect of clouds has been underestimated in nearly all models and cloud cover over the world is increasing (slightly).
  9. Man made water vapour is of greater significance than man made carbon dioxide for climate effects. But man made water vapour is almost insignificant compared to the water vapour flux due to evaporation and respiration.
  10. Solar effects are virtually ignored by all climate models but the sun does not much care for models and is reaching a low level of activity comparable to the Dalton or Maunder Minima.

Crying wolf about global warming has been the politically correct thing to do for 3 decades. Before that it was politically correct to be alarmist about the coming ice age. No doubt all the old fears about an ice age can be dusted off and recycled.

Climate change has been the most powerful force which has shaped human evolution and expansion. Sea level changes and patterns of precipitation and desertification have driven both evolution and migrations. Sea level during an ice age is about 120 m lower than it is today. More land is exposed in equatorial and tropical regions during a glacial period while land is rendered uninhabitable by the ice sheets of the north. But even primitive humanity survived during the glacials.

It is the global cooling cycles and not global warming cycles which will place the greatest demands on farming and energy. The greatest sea level change that humanity has had to – and will have to – adapt to  is the 120 m difference between glacial and interglacial conditions. During an ice age precipitation will drop sharply and river water flows will decline. Hydro power will all but dry up. It is the inevitable coming of the next ice age that will pose the real challenge – not the 1 m sea level rise that may come with another warming cycle. And when the ice age comes again it will be fossil fuels which will keep the home fires burning. It is the further exploitation of nuclear energy and fossil fuels in all its forms – coal, oil, natural gas, shale gas, gas from methane hydrates – that will be needed. It is the availability of power at the intensities provided by nuclear power and fossil fuel combustion which is what will provide humans with the wherewithal to cope with climate change, whether warming or cooling, but especially when the next ice age begins.

Whatever the alarmists would have us do in the short term, reality will eventually bite. The use of fossil fuels will – thankfully – continue as will the exploration for new sources of gas. The next generation of nuclear power plant will be developed – even though nuclear alarmism has led to a dearth of nuclear engineers. No doubt some market niches will be filled by wind and solar power but that will not be very significant in the large picture.

 

Fear of nuclear radiation is much worse than the reality

October 27, 2013

The Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear accident which followed the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011, was about the worst accident that could have happened in a nuclear plant. Hydrogen explosions occurred in the outer containment casings of 2 of the 6 reactors and meltdown of 2 of the cores also took place. A nuclear plant is not a nuclear bomb and a chain reaction leading to an explosion is not a real possibility. It is meltdown of the cores which is the bottom line.

Yet there were no deaths. As the official report from May this year said:

 No radiation-related deaths or acute effects have been observed among nearly 25,000 workers (including TEPCO employees and contractors) involved at the accident site.

It was the earthquake and tsunami which did the damage, caused some 18,000 deaths  and which led to the nuclear accident. But radiation from the nuclear accident has caused no deaths. And the radiation will cause no deaths. The report goes on:

The additional exposures received by most Japanese people in the first year and subsequent years due to the radioactive releases from the accident are less than the doses received from natural background radiation (which is about 2.1 mSv per year). This is particularly the case for Japanese people living away from Fukushima, where annual doses of around 0.2 mSv from the accident are estimated, arising primarily through ingestion of radionuclides in food. …. 

Given the small number of highly exposed workers, it is unlikely that excess cases of thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure would be detectable. Special health examinations will be given to workers with exposures above 100 mSv including annual monitoring of the thyroid, stomach, large intestine and lung for cancer as a means to monitor for potential late radiation-related health effects at the individual level.

The assessment also concluded that although the rate of exposures may have exceeded the levels for the onset of effects on plants and animals several times in the first few months following the accident, any effects are expected to be transient in nature, given their short duration. In general, the exposures on both marine and terrestrial non-human biota were too low for observable acute effects.

The fears of radiation it would seem are completely out of proportion to the reality of damage actually done. The imagination gone wild of writers and movie scriptwriters, has fantasised about mutations and monsters but have had little basis in the history of both military and civil use of nuclear power. The psychological effects of the fears – apparently quite unfounded – have been orders of magnitude greater than the direct effects of any radiation. Japanese children in Fukushima have suffered more from obesity because they have been banned from playing outside than by any effects of radiation.

Perhaps the biggest disservice done by environmental groups is due to their propensity to exaggerate quite legitimate – but manageable – concerns to become Alarmism. Once the Alarmist phase is reached, rational behaviour is no longer possible.  But they have been calling “Wolf” for 3 decades and for far too long now. As catastrophe scenarios and doomsday predictions keep being pushed into the future, alarmist scenarios are increasingly being discounted. There is a beginning of a welcome  return to rationality.

David Ropeik writes in the New York Times:

It has been more than two and a half years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began to unfold, and still the world watches events closely, fearfully. The drumbeat of danger seems never ending: Earlier this month, to take just one example, international news reports spread word that six workers at the plant had been accidentally doused with radioactive water.

Yet leading health scientists say the radiation from Fukushima has been relatively harmless, which is similar to results found after studying the health effects of Chernobyl. With all that evidence, why does our fear of all things nuclear persist? And what peril does that fear itself pose for society?

Our anxiety about nuclear radiation is rooted in our understandable fear of the terrible power of nuclear weapons. But in the 68 years since those weapons were first used in anger, we have learned, from the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki themselves, that ionizing radiation — the type created by a nuclear reaction — is not nearly the powerful carcinogen or genetic mutagen that we thought it was.

Beginning shortly after World War II, epidemiologists and radiation biologists began tracking atomic bomb survivors. Researchers have followed roughly 112,600 Japanese: 86,611 who had been within 10 kilometers of the center of the explosions, and 26,000 who were not exposed.

The most current analysis estimates that, out of 10,929 people in the exposed population who have died of cancer, only 527 of those deaths were caused by radiation from the atomic bombs. For the entire population exposed, in many cases to extremely high levels of radiation, that’s an excess cancer mortality rate of about two-thirds of 1 percent.

These studies have also found that, more than two generations later, there have been no multigenerational genetic effects on humans, Godzilla and the mutant giant ants in the 1954 film “Them!” notwithstanding. Fetal exposure in utero produced horrible birth defects, but no permanent genetic damage.

Perhaps most importantly, research on the bomb survivors has found that at lower doses, below 100 millisieverts, radiation causes no detectable elevations in normal rates of illness and disease. (Among several measures of radiation exposure, sieverts reflect the biological effects of radiation.) The vast majority of the doses received by people living near Fukushima or Chernobyl were well below this 100 millisievert threshold.

The robust evidence that ionizing radiation is a relatively low health risk dramatically contradicts common fears.

….

The World Health Organization’s 20-year review of the Chernobyl disaster found that its psychological impacts did more health damage than radiation exposure did, and a principle cause of the population’s debilitating stress was “an exaggerated sense of the dangers to health of exposure to radiation.”

Epidemiologists are already seeing the same things in Fukushima, where radiation exposures were far lower than at Chernobyl. Radiation biologists say the increased cancer risk from Fukushima will be so low it won’t change general cancer rates for that area, or Japan generally. (The World Health Organization predicts minor increases in rates of some cancers, for some ages and genders, in small pockets of more highly contaminated areas near the plant.)

Nonetheless, thousands of people are refusing to return to their homes and businesses in evacuated areas, even where dose levels have fallen low enough to declare those areas safe. Levels of stress, anxiety and depression are significantly elevated. One survey found that stress among children in the Fukushima area is double the level of other children in Japan.

And the Japanese Education Ministry reports that the children in Fukushima Prefecture have become the most obese in Japan since the nuclear accident prompted schools to curtail outside exercise, in most cases in areas where the risk from radiation was infinitesimal.

Commonsense returns as Japan “reviews” its 2040 nuclear abandonment plan

December 27, 2012

In spite of the seriousness of the Fukushima nuclear plant accident, it was never sufficient to justify the hysteria which ensued and the knee-jerk anti-nuclear decisions taken not only in Japan but also in Germany and other countries. The alarmist, anti-nuclear hysteria often seems to forget that it was the great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami which killed around 18,000 people (15,878 dead with 2,713 missing). The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant incident killed no-one directly. There may well be some indirect deaths which can and will eventually be attributed to the nuclear plant accident but there were no deaths caused directly.

Nevertheless Japan and Germany announced hasty, panic-ridden plans to abandon nuclear power. Greens began to rejoice and then started to realise that there is no practical alternative to nuclear power other than large-scale hydro-power and fossil fuels. The pipe-dream of thinking that base-load nuclear power could ever be replaced by unreliable and intermittent wind or solar power began to be seen for the mirage it was.  The high electricity price which has resulted has also seriously disdvantaged industry and hit households hard. Reality has begun to sink in.

Now Japan has a new government and a new Prime Minister. The task of reversing the fear-driven decisions (invariably bad decisions) of the past has begun. A “review” has been ordered and the results are inevitable …..

BBC: The new government in Japan has announced it will review the planned nuclear power phase-out proposed by the previous administration.

Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said that reactors would be restarted if considered safe by the nuclear authority. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised bold measures to revive the economy. The stoppage of nuclear power use by 2040 was ordered following last year’s Fukushima disaster.

….. Veteran trade minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who is also in charge of energy policy, made it clear that the government would not allow its plans to be hampered by higher energy costs.

“We need to reconsider the previous administration’s policy that aimed to make zero nuclear power operation possible during the 2030s,” he told a news conference. ….. 

…… “A strong economy is the source of energy for Japan. Without regaining a strong economy, there is no future for Japan,” Mr Abe said after taking office.

The prime minister had also said that he would allow nuclear energy a bigger role, despite last year’s disaster. Japan, which relied on nuclear power for almost one-third of its energy supplies before the incident, shut all its 50 nuclear reactors after the leaks, but recently restarted two of them. The move has resulted in higher energy costs, and many big businesses want Japan to return to using nuclear power.

Another dent in anti-nuclear paranoia as wildlife thrives after Chernobyl

April 13, 2012

Even with the advent of shale gas, the capital cost of nuclear power plants means that they remain the most economic, viable and safe option for large-scale, base-load power generation for the foreseeable future. And part of the unnecessary time (and cost) associated with building nuclear power plants is primarily due to the obstructionist and delaying tactics of the alarmist lobbies.

A new research paper finds that some of the alarmist scenarios after the Chernobyl accident have been grossly exaggerated. In all likelihood the same strident alarmism evident after Fukushima is also highly exaggerated.

J. T. Smith, N. J. Willey, J. T. Hancock. Low dose ionizing radiation produces too few reactive oxygen species to directly affect antioxidant concentrations in cellsBiology Letters, 2012; DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0150

(more…)

China downgrades solar and wind power – pushes for nuclear, hydro and shale gas

April 8, 2012

Common sense and simple economics are beginning to reassert themselves as the the fundamental weaknesses in the fashionable – but subsidised – expansion of solar and wind power plants are revealed. The expensive, intermittent and unpredictable generation  that derives from solar and wind power plants can – at best – be used to augment an existing system. They are actually useful as an auxiliary heat and power source as small decentralised units. But in a large power grid they are more of a nuisance than an asset and can only increase the cost to the consumer.

China has now published a policy document changing direction towards nuclear and hydro power and an accelerated development of shale gas use. Solar and wind power are downgraded.

Electric Light & Power

China will accelerate the use of new-energy sources such as nuclear energy and put an end to blind expansion in industries such as solar energy and wind power in 2012, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says in a government report published on March 5. 

(more…)


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