Monday, March 12, 2012

Japan One Year After the Fukishima Disaster

Japanese nuclear energy is one of the fatalities of the tragic earthquake and tsunami that occured on March 11, 2011. Japan held solemn memorials on the one year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that led to the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant. More than fifteen thousand people perished and over five thousand were injured on that fateful day one year ago.

It is understandable that Japan is leery about nuclear's savage power. On August 6, 1945, the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, killed 140,000 people. The nuclear bomb that hit Nagasaki killed more than 70,000 people. Nagasaki mayor Tomihisa Taue spoke for many when he said Japan must develop safer energies such as solar and wind. Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan also called for a shift from nuclear power to renewable energy.

After the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Japan closed almost all of their nuclear facilities to conduct safety checks. It is very unlikely that the country will restart the vast majority of these nuclear reactors. The cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe have already told utility companies that they no longer want nuclear power.

Presently only 14 of Japan's 54 reactors are operational and the gap in the countries's energy requirements are being increasingly met with fossil fuels.

According to Japan's Institute of Energy Economics, replacing nuclear facilties with fossil fuels will increase annual CO2 emissions by 60 million tonnes, or more than 5 per cent.

The fallout from the tragic explosion of the Fukushima reactor has killed nuclear power in Japan and increased GHG intensive energy production. While the switch to renewables is entirely laudable, replacing the shortfall with fossil fuel powered energy is not.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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