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  • Writer's pictureTom Mast

Nuclear Power in Japan

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

Tom Mast, Solve American Gridlock

Since the terrible earthquake and tsunami in 2011 and its destruction of the nuclear power plant at Fukushima, Japan has been on a path to phase out its nuclear energy plants.

However, events have caused a reevaluation. Japan is dependent on other nations for virtually all of its fossil fuels, coal, oil, and natural gas, and this isn’t anything new. But, a couple of other world events have become increasingly important. First, the trend of reducing dependence on fossil fuels seems to be accelerating in many places around the world, leading countries to recalculate their bets on the future of coal, oil, and natural gas. Second and compounding this pressure has been the belligerence of Russia, a major exporter of all fossil fuels. This has included aggression against some of its very good customers including Germany, causing major rethinking there about buying energy from unreliable sources and substituting the use of nuclear power plants.

Japan now plans to put seven idle nuclear plants back into service, bringing the total up to seventeen.

Furthermore, Japan is joining the chorus of nations taking a look at new types of nuclear reactors. Many countries are well along in developing Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs), and perhaps Japan will join in. SMRs have many advantages. They can be designed to shut themselves down in the event of an emergency even if no outside electrical power is available and are therefore safer in this regard. They are much smaller so the components can be built in factories, mass produced with all the inherent advantages for quality, reliability, cost, and maintenance of scheduled completion dates. An SMR plan can have from 1-12 modules, making it easy to use one basic design for a wide range of sizes of final electrical power plants.

Obviously, nuclear energy has the huge advantage these days of not producing greenhouse gases/carbon dioxide in its operations. #CO2 It is about the only widely available source that can supplement the intermittency of wind and solar electrical power and therefore making the further aggressive expansion of their usage practical. It also can be rolled out to developing countries, preventing their using fossil fuels instead including coal to grow their economies. #renewableenergy

Development of SMRs has been under way for many years around the globe, and both Russia and China have recently gone on line with their first plants.

Reference: WSJ, Japan Revives Nuclear Power, Opinion, 8/26/22


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