Japan meets Energy and Environment

Here is just a brief post to share the English version of the talk I gave in Tokyo past September on Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Safety.

The presentation aimed at answering the following questions:

  • Why Japan needs Nuclear Energy ?
  • Why Nuclear Energy needs a new generation of reactors ? (so called Fast Breeder Reactors)
  • What are FBR all about ?
  • What are the basic principles of Nuclear Safety, and how were they challenged during the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima 1 NPP accident?
  • How “built-in safety” will improve it in the future ?

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This is the first post of a series I intend to write on the energy efficiency theme, of which this one is a general introduction, and the following ones will keep going into more specific matters and tips.

Background

Historically, Japanese overpopulation together with its traditional Confucianism principles and lack of basic resources has turned Japan into one of the most, if not the most, efficient countries in the modern world. There are obviously many different ways of measuring macro-efficiency, but I personally tend to prefer economies energy intensity (the GDP/Energy ratio) to showcase it. In the graph below you can see how much energy did each country use to produce a given amount of wealth when compared with Japan during 2009.

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Now, that is a pretty bold statement… yet basically a reformulation of a quote in one of my favorite movies of all time: “Proportionality should be a guideline in war” (R.S. McNamara, 4mins on YouTube).

The point though, is that application of such guideline shouldn’t be a privilege of war times, but a truly universal practice in life. However, it is for sure during hard times, emergencies, when “proportionality” becomes an imperious need to prevent problems growing into catastrophes. Read the rest of this entry »

This is the first of a (hopefully) series of blogposts on the implications of the Fukushima NPP1 accident in the Japanese electricity landscape. Unless stated otherwise all data comes from International Energy Agency’s public statistics on electricity.

I will reserve my opinions, economics, etc. for future posts, but the aim here is to present the impact on electricity generation in Japan of the progressive shutdown of Japanese nuclear power plants. As a matter of fact, in the first three months of 2012, Japan electricity had the highest fossil fuel ratio since at least the establishment of the Federation of Electricity Power Companies (FEPC) short after WWII (pre 2011 data comes from FEPC). Just how dirty is that? Well, enough to make emissions from hyped Electric Vehicles worse than regular gasoline hybrids (link).

However, in order to understand the implications better, I will compare Japanese figures with those of other large, developed, populated, and relatively industrial countries. Among those I’ve chosen:

  • Germany, because it is both Japan’s major economic rival within Europe and the highest profile advocate of denuclearization.
  • France, because it’s the country with the highest ratio of electricity produced by nuclear power.
  • Spain, because it’s the large European country with the highest ratio of electricity produced by renewables.
  • South Korea: because it’s the closest country to Japan within Asia in terms of economic structure, population density and availability of natural resources.

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Welcome to Japan 2E, a blog about Energy and Environment from the perspective of an European person living in Japan.

It was just a little bit more than a year ago that I started using twitter, then built my first ever blog, right after the quake and tsunami that devastated Japan on 11 March 2011.  Both efforts aimed to help spreading as reliable and timely as possible information on the development of Fukushima NPP1 accident .That event has transformed the lives of many; I guess that, to some extent, I’m one of them, and the decision to create this blog part of that change.

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