back to article Japan reverses course on post-Fukushima nuclear ban

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said today his country would begin not only restarting nuclear plants sitting idle since the Fukushima affair, but will begin building reactors as well. The plan is effectively a total reversal of Japan's post-Fukushima nuclear strategy that saw it shutter existing plants and put a …

  1. Oglethorpe

    Excellent news

    The best, realistic path towards increased nuclear safety is building newer reactors. If the scientifically illiterate fear mongers* hadn't scuppered reactor building, the Fukushima reactors would likely have been shut down decades ago, in favour of newer plants.

    *the best example that springs to mind is Greenpeace pointing a thermal camera at a nuclear waste cask for a scary photo of how (thermally, as it happened) 'hot' it is

    1. SImon Hobson

      Re: Excellent news

      And note that it's largely thanks to the fear mongers that we have a "waste" problem. Most of the "waste" from current plants would actually be considered fuel if the fear mongers hadn't scuppered the idea of building reactors to use it.

      Apparently we have enough "waste" in storage in the UK to supply all our lecky needs for a century IF we put it through a fast breeder. So instead of using it to make power, and ending up with much less to deal with afterwards - we have created a much bigger problem which those same fear mongers use to show that nuclear is much worse than it actually is.

      1. fajensen

        Re: Excellent news

        Apparently we have enough "waste" in storage in the UK to supply all our lecky needs for a century

        And a pile of it is still sitting in the basement of THORP. One could go and clean it up right now - except we won't - because leaving piles of shit for the grandchildren and taxpayers is just what people will do. Always.

        Even IF the technology worked "as it says on the tin", people will soon find ways to skim off the top, defer scheduled maintainance, use dodgy parts and materials instead of the expensive stuff, hire morons for the operations, and suddenly (if it doesn't cook off):

        "We" are France - all our Glorious Nuclear Future sitting, stuck, at 0.4 generating capacity due to all manner of problems generally caused by mismanagement and systems decay, ERF going bankrupt and bailed out by the generous taxpayers as always.

        Nuclear proponents and communists share the same idea that their garbage ideas can work because This Time we will find the perfect people, the perfect organisation and the perfect tech to run it. And each time it goes to shit, it was because "other people and it wasn't done right"!

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Excellent news

          "eople will soon find ways to skim off the top, defer scheduled maintainance, use dodgy parts and materials instead of the expensive stuff, hire morons for the operations"

          The airline industry seems to have this problem licked - it's very simple, they realized that plane crashes were very high-profile events, and if they wanted to survive they had to work on 100% safety. Not to say that corners will never be cut (see Boeing Max disasters), but air travel safety record is exemplary given the thousands of flights per day.

          Operating nuclear plants safely can certainly be done - it IS expensive, but with energy costs increasing it would also be economically worthwhile to run a nuclear plant with full safety and maintenance regime

        2. Filippo Silver badge

          Re: Excellent news

          "Let's not do something because we are garbage and incapable of doing things right and will fuck it up and it's not even worth trying" is a terrible, terrible argument.

        3. Loyal Commenter

          Re: Excellent news

          Yup, it's totally the fault of communism, and nothing whatsoever to do with the nature of human greed, which is why our current system of increasingly stratified capitalism is such a utopia, right? Right? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

          The argument that "we shouldn't do this because bad people might cut corners" is not an argument for not doing something, it is an argument for regulating things properly, so that corruption can't take hold. Meanwhile, we live in a country where regulation is a dirty word, and, in totally unrelated news, corruption runs rife.

        4. Wade Burchette

          Re: Excellent news

          In the United States, if you include the Three Mile Incident, exactly 0 people have died due to nuclear power plant accidents. Also in the United States, you receive more radiation exposure eating 1 banana than you are allowed to receive per year living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. (Source)

          Chernobyl happened because it was a communist design. It had a design flaw that other reactors never had. You can fly a fully fueled 747 jumbo jet into the reactors we always used, and it wouldn't have a meltdown. The newer Westinghouse reactors are even safer. What caused Fukushima was a flood due to the tsunami drowning the backup systems. Now that we know about that, we can work around it in the future.

          1. Nifty Silver badge

            Re: Excellent news

            There was a Netflix documentary, Meltdown. In the series it's claimed that the cancer statistics of local people to 3 Mile Island dramatically worsened after the accident.

            The 3 Mile Island incident may not have killed one extra person. After all, everyone dies eventually. But it may have hastened the deaths of many.

            1. cyberdemon Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Excellent news

              You can get cancer due to the stress of being told that something bad will happen to you because of something that is actually completely harmless.

              Does not burning billions of tonnes of fossil fuels hasten the deaths of many?

              Also, if you are that afraid of radiation, btw, there is orders of magnitude more radioactive material sent up the smoke stacks of coal and biomass plants, amounting to more than the entire world history of nuclear power, accidents included.

              see: https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/43/035/43035329.pdf

              1. Nifty Silver badge

                Re: Excellent news

                I'd like to have upvoted your post but

                "You can get cancer due to the stress of being told that something bad will happen to you because of something that is actually completely harmless."

                Maybe. Maybe not. Readers of this forum expect high standards.

            2. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: Excellent news

              There was an extensive monitoring and screening program in the area after the 3-mile island incident precisely because everyone wanted to be sure there wouldn't be any long term effects (including the US government and nuclear industry). Guess what happens if you start looking for cancer in the general population? You'll find cancer. Humans tend to be riddled with it, and only a part of it is ever detected or ever becomes a problem. Same goes for after the Fukushima incident and the thyroid monitoring program they set up for local children and adolescents. They found lots of (pre-)cancerous nodules on thyroids. Nothing statistically significant over the occurrence of such in the general population though, which means that there was NOT an increase of thyroid cancers (which are specifically linked to Iodine and Cesium releases as happened in Fukushima)

              There's also been research into people living in areas with generally high natural background radiation (higher than encountered anywhere outside the plants after 3-mile island or Fukushima). Conclusions were that they tended to have lower incidence of cancers than populations in low radiation areas. Whether this is due to other (external) factors or the radiation no-one can currently prove, but it's interesting.

              Take Netflix documentaries and documentaries on nuclear power accidents in particular with more than a few grains of salt. Netflix certainly did their best to find the most sensational take on the incidents and not necessarily the whole truth. There's little evidence to truly conclude cancer rates dramatically worsened and even less evidence that this was due to the nuclear isotopes released in the incident. What HAS changes is our ability to FIND cancers, prevention of deaths from other causes (so that people no longer pass away from other causes with diagnosed cancers) and the amount of other crap we put in everything we come into contact with as humans that could cause cancers.

              Keep in mind the fossil fuel air pollution (just the particulate alone) kills in the order of 10 million people every single damn year https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935121000487.

          2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            exactly 0 people have died due to nuclear power plant accidents.

            Not actually true unfortunately

            WRT to nuclear power reactors (as opposed to sloppy work at a nucler chemical works) the landmark one was a mobile army reactor. the SL-1. It's 3MW standard level jumped to 20GW in 4mS on over removal of the sole control rod (no one designs reactors with single control rods any more). It killed all 3 crew and a first responder. IIRC one of the crew was harpooned to the ceiling by the control rod. :-(

            Later-to-be-President James Carter was part of the clean-up team.

            This may have had something to do with his continuing the block on reprocessing used nuclear fuel brought in under Gerald Ford.

            We can do better now. And we must.

            1. Oglethorpe

              Re: exactly 0 people have died due to nuclear power plant accidents.

              I wasn't aware of a first responder being killed. According to the account in two chapters of the superb INL publication Proving the Principle, the first responders withdrew almost immediately upon entering the building because their detectors ran off the scale. SL-1 also has 9 control rods, the change in design was that no future single control rod withdrawal could send an American reactor critical and certainly not prompt/supercritical.

              1. trindflo Bronze badge

                Re: exactly 0 people have died due to nuclear power plant accidents.

                Is that the story of the lover's triangle where the jilted lover tried to physically remove the control rod and blow everyone up? The scuttlebutt I'd heard was that the reactor functioned more or less as intended and shut down.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Excellent news

            " What caused Fukushima was a flood due to the tsunami drowning the backup systems"

            No. That was just one of many factors that led to the ultimate result. Many of them were known about, some of them had already been rreported, too many of them had been inconvenient and Tepco and the industry regulators chose to do nothing.

            Repeated failures to carry out a proper maintenance regime, for example. "It works, people get electricity, who cares if the backup systems are unusable..."

            Further reading see e.g.

            https://carnegieendowment.org/2012/03/06/why-fukushima-was-preventable-pub-47361

            which starts with these wise words:

            Public sentiment in many states has turned against nuclear energy following the March 2011 accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The large quantity of radioactive material released has caused significant human suffering and rendered large stretches of land uninhabitable. The cleanup operation will take decades and may cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

            The Fukushima incident was, however, preventable. Had the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), and Japan’s regulator, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), followed international best practices and standards, it is conceivable that they would have predicted the possibility of the plant being struck by a massive tsunami. The plant would have withstood the tsunami had its design previously been upgraded in accordance with state-of-the-art safety approaches.

            The methods used by TEPCO and NISA to assess the risk from tsunamis lagged behind international standards in at least three important respects:

            * Insufficient attention was paid to evidence of large tsunamis inundating the region surrounding the plant about once every thousand years.

            * Computer modeling of the tsunami threat was inadequate. Most importantly, preliminary simulations conducted in 2008 that suggested the tsunami risk to the plant had been seriously underestimated were not followed up and were only reported to NISA on March 7, 2011.

            * NISA failed to review simulations conducted by TEPCO and to foster the development of appropriate computer modeling tools.

            At the time of the incident, critical safety systems in nuclear power plants in some countries, especially in European states, were—as a matter of course—much better protected than in Japan. Following a flooding incident at Blayais Nuclear Power Plant in France in 1999, European countries significantly enhanced their plants’ defenses against extreme external events. Japanese operators were aware of this experience, and TEPCO could and should have upgraded Fukushima Daiichi.

            [continues]

        5. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

          Re: Excellent news

          Because it's not about the "planet" or about energy! It's about controlling YOU by controlling the economy!

          The sooner you fools realize "Climate Change" is a scam the sooner this world can move forward!

          1. hambut

            Re: Excellent news

            Or perhaps it isn't a scam? And those man-decades of research and independent scrutiny have not been wasted and there really is a climate change problem?

            I dunno - just an option you might want to consider before putting the tin foil hat back on.

    2. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: Excellent news

      Disinformation alert from the pro nuclear lobby.

      -> It could be argued that Japan's reaction to the 2011 Fukushima incident was overblown

      No it couldn't. It was the only sensible course of action.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Excellent news

        Oh looky, it's our resident pro-Kremlin troll. What a surprise to find that you're pushing the anti-nuclear line too.

        Let me guess, we in the West should all give up on nuclear and instead rely on kindly ol' Uncle Vlad for his oil and gas, sold to us at very reasonable prices as long as we do his bidding, right?

      2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Excellent news

        Are you here for the five minute argument, or the full half hour?

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Excellent news

          Oh, as per usual I expect it will be the latter. The moment I saw the article headline I knew I was in for a long day of downvoting.

          1. Filippo Silver badge

            Re: Excellent news

            Wait, are you VoiceOfTruth? Using two or more accounts?

        2. Loyal Commenter
          Coat

          Re: Excellent news

          This isn't an argument, it's just contradiction.

          1. jmch Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Excellent news

            No it isn't

            1. Loyal Commenter
              Happy

              Re: Excellent news

              Yes it is

              1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

                Re: Excellent news

                It's behind you!

        3. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Excellent news

          This is VoiceofTruth getting hit on the head lessons . . .

      3. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Excellent news

        Many of the areas that were evacuated did not objectively need to be evacuated nor did they need to STAY evacuated for weeks months or years afterwards simply based on direct measurements. Statistically speaking it can simply be calculated that the number of deaths that MIGHT result from the absolute worse case exposure models (that are already overblown) from the isotopes released in the incident shows that there have been more people killed by the stress of having to be evacuated and finding a new place to live than could ever result from the radiation.

        It was governmental bureaucracy and slow responses after the tsunami on requests of the plant to be allowed to vent pressure (and potentially release radioactive isotopes) that contributed to the meltdowns and hydrogen explosions.

        Their subsequent handling of the aftermath is also a showcase of absolutely overblown caution and rampant radiophobia. Their limits on radioactivity limits in soil, foodstuffs, surface and drinking water are already amongst the lowest in the world and oftentimes they're mitigating to levels FAR below those, to the point of labeling soil "radioactive waste" that is lower in background activity than the natural background levels of topsoil found randomly in most of the world.

        Japans reaction to the incident can safely be described as overblown and definitely was (in a lot of cases, not every time ofcourse) generally not sensible.

        1. Marcelo Rodrigues
          Unhappy

          Re: Excellent news

          "Japans reaction to the incident can safely be described as overblown and definitely was (in a lot of cases, not every time ofcourse) generally not sensible."

          I do agree with You: it was way overblown. The only (and great) mitigation factor would be Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For better or worse, I think taking two atomic bombs on the head does leave its fair share of public trauma.

          I don´t think they needed all that reaction from Fukushima - but from an historic point of view I do understand. Probably would do the same, if I where in their shoes.

    3. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: Excellent news

      Infrared imaging is so overrated, unless you carefully calibrate your system it's little more than a pretty picture generator.

      We employed the services of an individual who had the kind of history where he couldn't say what they had worked on.

      By the end of the analysis the uncertainty budget for using the devices we use (good!) Cameras in controlled conditions was about +-35 Deg C. And in the real world it's even worse, with reflections a particular problem for us.

      Considering the operating range we are bothered about is from ambient to about 70 Deg; that uncertainty budget renders the IR mostly useless for anything other than the most gross of of failures. At which point other techniques would be obvious anyway.

      The flood of cheap and nasty IR cameras being used on tourist attractions to take peoples temperatures I would have even more disdain for. might as well have been using those fake bomb detectors that went to Iraq.

      People say science is hard, but it's not. What is hard is convincing the emotional and/or irrational that their opinion is a) irrelevant and b) wrong. New nuclear at scale is long overdue in the UK at the hands of NIMBY. Personally I think we should be looking at putting them on offshore platforms to alleviate the planning problem.

  2. Toni the terrible
    Joke

    saving energy

    If we all get more radio active perhaps we can save power as we all glow in the dark?

    1. herman Silver badge

      Re: saving energy

      I need to get a PET scan in a couple weeks, so then I may glow in the dark for a day or two.

      1. Chris Gray 1
        Happy

        Re: saving energy

        I didn't notice anything after mine, a month or so ago (heart's fine).

        You actually might have more luck eating lots of bananas, but that has other side effects.

      2. Spherical Cow Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: saving energy

        What's the point of glowing in the dark for a day or two? It would be far more useful to glow in the dark for a night or two.

        1. NXM

          Re: saving energy

          Put one of those luminous condoms on and you can literally point the way forward.

          1. jmch Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: saving energy

            Slight problem there, in that spherical cow is by definition both female, and non-pointy

  3. herman Silver badge

    Mountains of coal ash

    Compared the mountains of ash produced by coal power, nuclear waste is nothing.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Mountains of coal ash

      So we can dump it in your garden, then? - thanks, good to know.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Mountains of coal ash

        The total amount of radioactivity in coal ash is higher than the radioactive waste generated by nuclear power, when measured per GWh.

        Its just in a much more concentrated form when it comes out of a nuclear plant. If it was permitted to break up the nuclear waste and dilute it with inert materials it too could be dumped willy nilly and exhausted into the air like coal ash.

        1. Mishak Silver badge

          Similar to the way scrap metal is treated on decomissioning

          Metal from gas processing plant becomes radioactive due to radon (mainly) in the gas stream. When the plant is decommissioned, this is just treated as scrap metal.

          However, the same level of contamination in metal from nuclear decommissioning means it is classified as low-level waste, and has to be disposed of as such.

          Can we please have a level playing field?

          1. Ididntbringacoat

            Re: Similar to the way scrap metal is treated on decomissioning

            The metals in Nuclear plants become radioactive in different ways.

            Some due to "neutron activation" of corrosion products that may form and deposit (normally kept to a minimum) creating a variety of radioactive materials and due to direct neutron activation of the reactor vessel, piping and structural components. Not to mention actual fission products that may deposit about the piping due to small defects in the fuel "cladding" itself allowing small amounts of fuel to escape into the coolant.

            Thus the reasons for treating them differently.

            1. itzman

              Re: Similar to the way scrap metal is treated on decomissioning

              Yeah, the science is settled. a gamma ray from material that came out of a nuclear plant is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from a gamma ray that occurs naturally when 'natural' uranium decays...

              That's why you don't have to clear Dartmoor at 20mSv/yr, but you do have to clear Fukushima at 2mSv/yr

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Jurisdiction dependant it already is

            But while in those areas the nuclear industries radioactive scrap gets tested, filed, and disposed of in a waste handling facility, radioactive scrap from other sources tends to disappear along the way.

            Scrap metal scavengers and processors frequently carry meters to check scrap, and avoid being stuck with a very expensive problem. The operators try to trick someone else into hauling it off, who are then stuck with it. Not that that has NEVER happened with the Nuclear plant operators, but they have a lot more (and more competent) eyes on them.

        2. bazza Silver badge

          Re: Mountains of coal ash

          >Its just in a much more concentrated form when it comes out of a nuclear plant.

          You really don't want to introduce plutonium into the environment. It is forever, and it is highly toxic. The radioactivity is less of a problem...

          1. Loyal Commenter

            Re: Mountains of coal ash

            Not to nit-pick, but if plutonium was "forever," it'd be pretty useless for making bombs. Arguably, tens of thousands of years is a long time, but it's not "forever".

            Oh, and if you have any significant amount of plutonium in your reactor waste, it's because your reactor was designed to produce it, and you're probably not a signatory to the NPT.

            The point about the chemical toxicity is a good one, though. As with most heavy metals, you don't want to be ingesting it, or its chemical compounds in any way, they don't tend to play nicely with biological processes.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Mountains of coal ash

              Chemical toxicity of plutonium appears to be overrated, particularly by people who like to quote Ralph Nader. Plutonium is chemically toxic but not very bioavailable, apparently.

              The ATSDR toxicity profile for plutonium (PDF) shows almost all adverse effects stem from various cancers or other radiation-induced pathology such as radiation pneumonia. Studies of plutonium-exposed workers at Sellafield did show elevated risk for cerebrovascular disease and other cardiovascular conditions, but mostly at elevated risk levels much less than those found for various cancers in other studies. (And the cardiovascular-disease effects weren't reproduced in an animal study, FWTW.)

              Obviously, cancer is not an outcome anyone wants either, and plutonium is removed from the body very slowly, so it has plenty of time to do cumulative damage or accumulate if you continue to be exposed. It can be inhaled or ingested (according to the report, it's not significantly absorbed through the skin, though of course dermal burns and other damage can occur from sufficient skin exposure). So, yeah, you don't want to be exposed to significant amounts of plutonium. But the "plutonium is super toxic you guys!" line that the anti-nuclear types have been pushing since Nader doesn't appear to be supported by actual evidence.

              1. Loyal Commenter

                Re: Mountains of coal ash

                Bioavailability depends on what compounds you are talking about.

                For instance, take mercury. As long as you don't breathe the vapour in, you can happily slosh the stuff about with your hands with little risk of heavy-metal poisoning. Spilll one drop of dimethylmercury on your gloved hand though, and you're going to die in a horrible and painful manner.

                So, yes, plutonium itself might not be very bioavailable. But how about plutonium hexafluoride, or hexamethylplutonium, or plutonium chelated by something like EDTA? I seriously doubt that much work has been done on the organometallic chemistry of this element, for obvious reasons, and, on balance, I think it should probably stay that way.

        3. Binraider Silver badge

          Re: Mountains of coal ash

          The radioactivity of the gas supply going to the backup generators associated with Sellafield are greater than the level of radioactivity permitted on a nuclear site. Hence these generators are not on the same site.

          The alternative to getting nuclear expanded, quickly, is high gas prices and/or intermittent windmills.

          What will it be, Britain?

      2. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Mountains of coal ash

        For the coal, it already does. Particles produced by coal-fired power plants are dispersed in the atmosphere and go also in my garden, as well as in my lungs, and so even if there are close to none coal-fired power plants in my country.

        Coal kills, and a lot.

      3. Loyal Commenter

        Re: Mountains of coal ash

        From your comment, I assume that you are therefore happy to have the spoil from a coal-fired plant in *your* garden? I wouldn't eat those big juicy tomatoes that grow so well in that ash if I were you, unless you're looking to get heavy metal poisoning...

    2. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: Mountains of coal ash

      Compared the mountains of ash produced by coal power, nuclear waste is nothing.
      And it's less radioactive, too.

  4. MonsieurTM

    Finally, some politicians showing some sense! Nuclear is the only option we have in the immediate future if we wish to reduce carbon emissions and have the high energy-consumotion civilisation that we live in.

    1. jmch Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Good for Japan. And, apparently, Germany. Let's hope all the rest follow suit ASAP

    2. Velv
      Facepalm

      What utter rubbish. Nuclear is clearly not the only option.

      Renewables are producing a substantial amount of our energy needs right now, cost effectively.

      I'm not stupid enough to suggest renewables are the only option either.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If it is so cost effective why are bills going up with a potential doubling of the cap price tomorrow? Germany has had some of the highest investment in renewables in Europe and their electricity prices are also going through the roof with talk of energy rationing in the winter.

        We keep hearing the same lines parroted over and over that renewables are cheap and will lower bills. Current evidence shows the opposite.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Do not be a stupid. Germany in 2021 generated about 79% of its primary energy from fossil fuels (17.46% coal 34.53% oil +26.90% gas). UK in 2021 generated about 80.5% of its primary energy from fossil fuels (3.09% coal, 36.67% oil, 40.70% gas). Difference is a little over 1.5%.

          So not surprising prices also rise in Germany, don't you think? Oh no, sorry: you are anonymous cow, you do not think.

          (Source.)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Alien

            Ah, five drive-by downvotes for pointing out that Germany's primary energy mix is very close to the UK's, with sources. Such are commenters on The Register. Oh well.

        2. fajensen

          If it is so cost effective why are bills going up with a potential doubling of the cap price tomorrow?

          That line of thinking went out with Karl Marx and cost+ defense procurement. Today, Markets decide the price, not production prices, and energy companies are very happy indeed about their cost effective production and the inefficient Markets!

          Since the 1990's the FIRE-economy rules the world. About 2008, it had a little boo-boo. Some especially gifted "Brain Trust" running global finance decided that it would be good for con-fidence and growff to keep interest rates suppressed and even negative for decades, thereby inflating assets such as stock markets, bonds, real estate, wind farms, solar farms, skating rinks in the desert, water, fishing quoatas, and of course land.

          Now, these same people see inflation and they figure that maybe facilitating a few people taking 99.99 of the worlds wealth using Free Credit was maybe going overbord at little, so, they are slowly raising interest rates, assets starts to unwind, as planned.

          However, all that money that was created by the asset price inflation doesn't just disappear, instead it flows into different "inflation proof" investments, like food, raw materials and energy.

          On top of that mess evolving, we suddenly have the war in Ukraine creating a shock in the market and an immediate shortage of raw materials and energy and of course setting off a feeding-frenzy in "The Market".

          *That* hits the energy bills, only Regulation will stop it and things will be really dire before that can happen, corona was only setting the mood.

          *) FIRE - Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate.

        3. Binraider Silver badge

          The price cap is going up to deal with a) failed supply companies that couldn’t cover their bills when wholesale prices went up, and b) wholesale prices going up.

          As there is a dependency on gas (unless we cut demand); wholesale prices for wind and nuke automatically track the price of gas; because if you are selling something why wouldn’t you sell it for the highest price possible?

          This is the reason centrica’s profits this year have raised enormously; and generically anyone with an generator is quids in today.

          The type of generator is not the cause of price rises. The way the market operates, is. Semi-unbelievably even our incumbent zombie government has recognised this and opened a consultation on the matter. However, the only real solution to the free market is a planned economy; the antithesis of the incumbents. The only other way to break the market pricing issue is to stick sticking plasters on; taxation of the generators and redirect proceeds to consumers (through tax cuts or real terms direct intervention on bills). The latter obviously is not preferable - it is literally the generators holding the country to ransom; and what would be stopping them, raising their demands further.

          So, no, renewables aren’t the cause of high prices; it is free market economics and lack of competition and quantity within it the market. Either way, Ofgem have failed interminably, as have their masters in parliament.

          1. Binraider Silver badge

            The downvotes are amusing, as it mostly shows lack of understanding of how the UK (and global) markets operate.

  5. steviebuk Silver badge

    Wind and solar

    Why aren't they doing wind and solar also? A lot quicker to get up and running and also safer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wind and solar

      Here we have a hybrid wind-solar plan for global warming based on a lot of hot air.

    2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Wind and solar

      Where does the article indicate that wind and solar usage are not being increased? The development of nuclear power does not imply that renewable energy sources are not also being developed.

      1. itzman

        Re: Wind and solar

        "The development of nuclear power does not imply that renewable energy sources are not also being developed."

        That depends on whether engineer politicians or profiteers are setting the policy:

        "There is nothing a fleet of dispatchable nuclear power plants cannot do that cannot be done worse and more expensively and with higher carbon emissions and more adverse environmental impact by adding intermittent renewable energy."

      2. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Wind and solar

        Cause I'm an idiot and just read the headline :)

    3. Noram

      Re: Wind and solar

      They may well be doing that as well.

      But, and this is important, both solar and wind still suffer from the fact you need either massive amounts of over provision over a very large geographical area to ensure you maintain power, or you need a lot of power storage, or both.

      Having fitted panels and batteries to my gaff it's interesting to see how I can go from 5kw of production to under 500 watts in the space of five minutes and how much the battery is being used to smooth that out.

      Whilst if you spread out the panels enough you could in theory smooth that out a lot, without huge amounts of battery storage the grid would likely become very unpredictable in terms of power being sent from one region to another. So spreading the solar/wind production out a lot may in theory solve the "generate a minimum" issue without batteries, but at the same time introduce a whole lot of other, new problems in regards to balancing of the load across the county.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Wind and solar

        Solar concentrators using molten salt can smooth out the curve by collecting the energy as heat - effectively molten salt solar can collect power all through the day and continue producing power at night (including, possibly, all night).

        Although AFAIK such plants don't work so effectively at higher latitudes

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Wind and solar

        I know Australia isn't Japan...

        But a detailed look at renewables in Aus shows... pretty promising results with very little storage:

        https://reneweconomy.com.au/a-near-100-per-cent-renewables-grid-is-well-within-reach-and-with-little-storage/

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: Wind and solar

          Clearly an objective and unbiased site with no agenda for making such bold statements. Last time I checked Australia is vast and still has a day/night cycle. The heat and dust in desert areas while be hell for solar panels and wind turbines. The rainy seasons are obviously not so great solar, and often too windy for wind turbines.

          So that's a lot of storage required, or a massive grid system across a few thousand miles of inhospitable and often outright hostile terrain.

          Minimising storage to 5 hours is fine right up until it isn't, they the brown smelly stuff hits the rotating bladey things. Sounds woefully inadequate. And the basis for that 5 hour conclusion is basically a bunch of simulations.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Wind and solar

            In these parts we have 100% daytime solar electrical generation on average, for the whole county.

            And that works, because:

            - We get a lot of sun. Semi-arid climate with at least several hours of clear skies most days.

            - It's a rural residential and agricultural county. Very little manufacturing to consume lots of electricity.

            - Population density is low, so overall load is low and there's plenty of space to find good sites for big photovoltaic and battery installations.

            I haven't verified this personally, but I believe those conditions don't apply everywhere, so it would be a mistake to generalize this to "everyone can just use solar lol!".

            But generalizing from Australia is probably a totally different argument and perfectly reasonable. Where isn't like Australia?

          2. herman Silver badge

            Re: Wind and solar

            There are huge solar systems in the Arabian desert. They seem to handle the heat, dust and rain just fine. So I don’t see why Aus would be a problem.

      3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        from 5kw of production to under 500 watts in the space of five minutes

        Indeed.

        You need a pretty big-ass battery to cope with those kind of power drops.

    4. Mishak Silver badge

      Re: Wind and solar

      You need something to cover periods when there is no wind. If you look at recent UK data, there are periods days in length where wind produces less than 0.5% of demand.

      And, of course, there is no sun at night.

      Both are very helpful when available, but cannot be consider "reliable".

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Wind and solar

        Isn't it odd how silent the pro nuclear lobby has been about the heatwave in France being the root cause of turning off nuclear power stations there? Not enough water = can't run the nuclear tea pot.

        Nuclear power is unsafe.

        1. midgepad Bronze badge

          Not really.

          With low flows in rivers the plant can't be run full-power because it would cook the fish with waste heat.

          Scaled back to maintenance levels or usefully more the water suffices without getting bath like.

          Why is there a problem? Because hydrocarbons have been burned vastly.

          1. IanRS

            Hot water can be useful.

            The EDF nuclear plant at Civaux in France has a large (very deep) swimming pool and a tropical aquatic centre next door. La Planète des Crocodiles. Fish might not appreciate hot water, but the crocodiles seem to like it.

            Since I was last there they seem to have expanded into a small theme park, now with added dragons too. https://www.terre-de-dragons.com/

        2. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Wind and solar

          Sorry to have to poo-pooh your little rant there...

          Yes, the low river levels are a big concern in France and they have forced EDF to reduce output from the plants that are online - but it's hardly making nuclear power unsafe. Coal would have a similar problem - you can't really run superheated steam turbines when your coal power station can't get any water to cool that spent steam. But I suppose you can get away with using air cooling to a degree.

          Nuclear power is not unsafe. It requires more fine-tuning, but in its modern incarnation in pressurised water reactors, it is not unsafe. For a country like Japan, which has little in terms of gas, oil or coal resources, nuclear power was and still is a decent choice, provided the power station is built to modern standards, and after Fukushima, with upgraded tsunami defences. The thing is that Fukushima wouldn't have failed (and melted down) if the generators that were to provide power in an emergency hadn't drowned in sea water that inundated the facility. That's a design mistake the Japanese won't make again.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wind and solar

            And if the reactors hadn't automatically shut down when the offshore quake was detected they could have continued to supply power to drive their cooling systems without the need for the generators.

            1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch

              Re: Wind and solar

              Our reactor was just exposed to an earthquake 20% more energetic than its design tolerance.

              No worries, just leave 'er running...

              Leave her. Running.

              1. Loyal Commenter

                Re: Wind and solar

                The problem wasn't the quake, it was the tsunami, and the fact that that was higher than the sea walls that were built to protect against tsunamis. Pretty much nothing works properly when an ocean decides to flow through it at short notice.

                On this theme, I hope Japan have twigged that it is probably better to build new reactors near the East/North coast, rather than the West/South one, so they at least have them pointing away from one of the world's biggest and most active subduction zones.

                1. John Robson Silver badge

                  Re: Wind and solar

                  To be fair the quakes did damage the primary external power sources... just not the reactors or backup generators, or backup batteries, or control electronics. Those were all flooded and killed by the tsunami which was nearly three times the design limit for the site.

                2. herman Silver badge

                  Re: Wind and solar

                  “Twigged” - I guess that you are from Cape Town which has a fairly large French built nuclear power station on the Atlantic coast.

                  1. Loyal Commenter

                    Re: Wind and solar

                    Nope, but one of the guys on the allotments is. Maybe I should ask him?

            2. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Wind and solar

              There is probably a good reason to scram a reactor when the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan strikes just 100 miles away.

              The acceleration of the ground at those sites exceeded half a g, which is 20% more than the design spec called for. Note that they are built on rock, sedimentary acceleration a few miles north was over 2g.

              This alone destroyed the 6 primary external generators.

              The tsunami that earthquake generated was 15m high at the plant.

              The design of defenses was protecting against a 3m tsumami (based on the 1960 Chile tsumani), though that was revised to ~6m in 2002. They were in discussions about potentially higher tsunami, but little action had been taken.

              Yes, they should have done more to protect against seawater ingress into the building (which killed the batteries and the backup generators). Either by moving the generators up the hill, or upstairs in the buildings.

              But that's all the generators, batteries and switch gear that would have needed moving. Not exactly an overnight job.

              The evacuation was ordered based on a level a little under 3 times the background in cornwall.

              The background level before the tsunami was about 10% of that in cornwall.

              The numbers were, and are, pretty small, and the risks are also fairly small - the biggest risk was always the massive bloody earthquake and tsunami. The Iodine and Caesium (particularly 137) is not something we want to be releasing... but the alternative is the last decade of burning fossil fuels - since they have ~25% coal still we can reasonably assume that the coal is what hasn't been displaced by nuclear generation.

              Before the tsunami a third of it's electricity came from nuclear plants, it's now just 5%.

              So... Japan uses ~1 PWh/year, so 250TWh of coal per year, for a decade... that's 2.5PWh, at a reasonable estimate of 25 deaths/TWh... that's 60+ thousand deaths as a result of using coal rather than nuclear generation.

              Was the initial evacuation overkill?

              I'd rather evacuate safely and unnecessarily occasionally than not.

              But the evacuation itself caused serious issues as well.

              The limits places on background doses were pretty strict - again I'd rather start strict and loosen after consideration.

              Was the decision to cut back on all new builds and all existing nuclear generation for a decade overkill - absolutely.

              1. Loyal Commenter

                Re: Wind and solar

                It was undoubtedly overkill, but it was also a political decision, and politically speaking, may have been the only choice.

                1. John Robson Silver badge

                  Re: Wind and solar

                  Always amazes me that times when the "only" political decision is one that actually makes no sense doesn't bring parties together to go "Look, we know there is widespread fear around this - but it's actually the safest way we have to generate power. If we all keep that line and explain it then we can carry on doing the right thing"

        3. Reg Reader 1

          Re: Wind and solar

          There are reactor designs that don't require any amount of water or outside coolant. Those hadn't been actively developed for years because Governments went with plants that make it easy to produce bi-product that could be turned into weapons more easily. The other types are now, better late than never, being researched with the hope building the soon, in terms of nuclear reactors .

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: Wind and solar

          Yes, steam turbines are a problem when there is not enough cooling water, is true. Nothing to do with nuclear power, nothing to do with safety.

        5. itzman

          Re: Wind and solar

          France decided to use rivers to cool some of its reactors, but then the envirionmental lobby decreed that warm fish was a nono, so they werent allowed to fully utilise them

          Japan has a lot of coastline.

          Windmills kill birds and bats and parachutists and cause sleep disturbances in humans.

          Windmills are not safe.

          1. Loyal Commenter

            Re: Wind and solar

            Windmills kill birds and bats and parachutists and cause sleep disturbances in humans.

            IIRC, there are pretty strict rules about how close to houses these things are allowed to be built, so if I hear anyone claiming that their sleep is disturbed by a windmill which is at least 500m away from their bedroom window, I invite them to try living in ANY settlement near other human beings.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Wind and solar

              We have travellers living in a field not too far away and they had connected themselves into the overhead 240v wires. (semi-rural area, pretty much everything overhead) After causing 3 power cuts in the space of 8hrs due to overloading the transformer (entire site on one phase) the leccy board cut them off.

              We then had to suffer 5 months of the only just noticeable but ever present drone from 'silent' diesel generators running 24/7. It was not nice.

            2. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: Wind and solar

              There is plenty of evidence that windmills can produce low frequency noise that can be heard (and can cause adverse health effects in humans) for miles/kilometers downwind. 500m is definitely not enough. The problem is that there is very little understood about the effects of infrasound (<20Hz) and low frequency sounds (20-200Hz) and what noise levels are acceptable or not. From personal experience, modern 2MW wind turbines can definitely be heard (and be deemed annoying) from nearly 2 km away on a relatively quiet night with steady winds.

          2. John Robson Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: Wind and solar

            Windmills kill birds?

            Well yes, some birds... but when the RSPB come out in support of them, you have to question whether you are cherry picking data.

            https://www.carbonbrief.org/bird-death-and-wind-turbines-a-look-at-the-evidence/

            "Overall, the RSPB says it scrutinises “hundreds” of windfarm applications every year in order to assess their possible impact on wildlife and bird populations and ultimately objects to six per cent of them."

            And many of those will be "set the turbines back a bit" style objections.

            Or we could look at other generation methods:

            https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960148112000857

            "The research concludes that taken together, fossil-fueled facilities are about 17 times more dangerous per gigawatt hour of electricity produced to birds than wind and nuclear power stations."

            And that’s without getting into other human activities and structures – including buildings, roads and domestic cats.

            1. Loyal Commenter

              Re: Wind and solar

              And that’s without getting into other human activities and structures – including buildings, roads and domestic cats.

              Coincidentally, I was watching one of the local cats just yesterday evening, trying to catch bats. I think the bats were actually taunting the cat, because they were swooping down right over its head, and there was no way it was going to be able to jump up and catch one, despite repeatedly trying.

              Bats are intelligent animals, are very manoeuvrable, and have very sophisticated sonar. They fly very low round here, in a large-ish city (frequently down to about waist level), and I've never seen one killed by a car, the motion of which is much less predictable than that of a wind turbine's blades. The idea that they might fly into the path of the blades and get killed, on a regular basis, doesn't sound credible to me.

              1. Hurn

                Re: Wind and solar

                Some cats may be better at taking down bats than others. Many years ago, I saw a cat regularly get them:

                Situation was a suburban area: 2 houses with a driveway between them. A streetlight was near the end of the driveway (where it met the street). Each house has a front porch, with railing.

                Bats would fly between the houses, above the driveway, and then up, into the light of the (mercury vapor, so you know it was a while ago) streetlight, which would attract a halo of flying insects (aka bat fuel).

                Cat would sit on the porch railing, watching between the houses for the next bat sortie. When the bat was in range, the cat would leap from the railing, catch the bat, land, and head under the porch for a leisurely meal.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Wind and solar

              Cats mostly kill little birds. Wind turbines mostly kill big birds, some of which have been known to kill cats.

              1. Stoneshop Silver badge
                Boffin

                Re: Wind and solar

                Wind turbines mostly kill big birds

                With one of the turbine's blades painted black, or all three of them painted black over a third of their length (tip, middle and centre) the number of bird strikes is significantly reduced. It makes the birds more aware of the actual movement of the blades

                Problem is that humans tend to dislike this.

            3. Binraider Silver badge

              Re: Wind and solar

              Housecats kill an order of magnitude (or two) more birds than windmills do, so by this logic we should get rid of cats.

              I quite like cats, and windmills funnily enough.

          3. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch

            Re: Wind and solar

            The only identified predisposing condition for Wind Turbine Syndrome is having heard about Wind Turbine Syndrome before a wind turbine is built near your house.

        6. Filippo Silver badge

          Re: Wind and solar

          And if we had started using nuclear power more extensively a while back, instead of just burning everything in sight, maybe the current drought would not have been that bad and/or we'd have better reactors that don't need so much cooling.

        7. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Wind and solar

          Exactly the same as with river-cooled coal power stations. I remember back in 1976 there were concerns at Drax because there was insufficient draught in the Ouse to draw cooling water from.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Wind and solar @AC

          Large battery farms are not the ideal answer. Grid-scale battery farms using current battery technologies are large, require a lot of valuable resources to build, and have their own safety problems if they catch fire. You might imagine a large building packed with some form of battery, but in reality, you need to spread them out so that if there is a fire, it does not take all of them at the same time.

          I wonder whether you could combine a large distributed battery system with solar panels on the top, using the land currently just used for solar farms twice. Have we missed a trick here?

          Pumped storage hydro works, but it requires the right type of geography, involving hills/mountains, and a general supply of water. You're not going to build these things in mainly flat countries.

          The Eco-warriors will almost certainly complain about spoiled natural habitat as well.

          As has been pointed out, molten salt batteries may provide some answers, but current generations appear to be reliant on solar concentrators to keep them molten. If they solidify, I understand that they're very difficult to get back into operation.

          1. Loyal Commenter

            Re: Wind and solar @AC

            As has been pointed out, molten salt batteries may provide some answers, but current generations appear to be reliant on solar concentrators to keep them molten. If they solidify, I understand that they're very difficult to get back into operation.

            I remember reading some time ago about "flow batteries," which are basically two big tanks of chemicals in different oxidation states with a redox reaction between the two consuming or producing electricity depending on which what the flow is going. I don't know how far this technology has got though.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Wind and solar @AC

              There are quite a few grid scale flow batteries in operation around the world and China are installing/have installed one that is about twice the capacity of the Tesla big battery.

              They don't get the same attention as lithium as they are not really suited to mobile applications.

              1. Loyal Commenter

                Re: Wind and solar @AC

                They do seem to be an interesting technology, not least because in essence they are very simple, and easily scaleable ("just" add more tanks). The electrolytes in them might not be the nicest things to have around, and spills might be a risk, but unlike conventional batteries, they are much less likely to catch fire, unless those electrolytes are chosen REALLY badly.

        2. deive

          Re: Wind and solar

          also, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_battery

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: Wind and solar

            There's surprisingly little energy in even a humongous lump of rock dropping several hundred meters.

      3. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Wind and solar

        Yes you do...

        But those periods are generally not sustained, and when they are sustained it tends to be because the weather is particularly good for other renewables.

        Again - Australia isn't Japan, the UK or the US... but this is the most in depth review of a year (and the stats were actually generated week by week using real world data) that I am aware of.

        https://reneweconomy.com.au/a-near-100-per-cent-renewables-grid-is-well-within-reach-and-with-little-storage/

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wind and solar

          120GWh of storage is not 'a little'.

          Australia does have some advantages, HUGE areas of sunny land that no-one lives on or really cares about and a large % of the population live near the coast where the wind is.

          Not something you can do in most of Europe where there is a lot less sun and much less coast. Or north 'murica.

          Aussies have an aversion to solar as there was a huge influx of cheap crap from the usual source of cheap crap and an alarming % suffered from early life failures.

          I've not checked this person's maths but some of the renewable claims are based on very bad maths. The proposal for solar panels in the Sahara that could 'power the world' failed to account for the rotation of the earth.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Wind and solar

            Where did you pick 120GWh of storage from?

            The analysis of Australia wasn't dependant on it being Australia... it took an estimate at the start of the year of how much solar/wind would be needed... and then scaled production accordingly throughout the year.

            It turns out that their grid, with existing storage, would have been 98.5% renewable over the year.

            Of course that only accounts for the year analysed, but it's a pretty good indication that we are on the right track.

            Let's have a look at the UK for a moment, and imagine ourselves in those sunlit uplands of better governance.

            30 million EVs with an average of 50kWh capacity is 1.5TWh storage... Even just 10% of that being available for V2G applications (and actually even V2H would be a serious help, balancing supply and demand) would significantly exceed your 120GWh storage suggestion.

            But we still need to generate; given that we currently dedicate as much land to airports as we do to solar generation I think we could reasonably expand said generation substantially without it requiring the vastness of central australia:

            In the UK 1kW of nominal PV will generation ~1MWh/year using ~3sqm of roof, call it 4sqm of ground.

            It generates more in summer than winter, and it generates only during the day... we know this.

            UK annual electrical demand is 270TWh, so we'd need 270GW of installed capacity (on average), which would take 1,000 square kilometres.

            That sounds alot.... it's half of the space taken up by residential buildings, or a bit less than the space taken up by community buildings, or about the space taken up by industrial buildings, or less than one percent of our agricultural land.

            It should be obvious that solar isn't the complete solution for grid power in the UK, but it should also be clear that it is going to be a significant part of that solution.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Wind and solar

              My bad - the 120 is from the article, which excludes existing storage.

    5. midgepad Bronze badge

      Re: Wind and solar

      I've seen no suggestion they are not.

    6. RAMChYLD

      Re: Wind and solar

      they are. Except that it turns out that wind and solar is still relatively low production- you can cover every single square mile of Tokyo and it still wouldn't be enough for their major heating and air conditioning needs.

      What I'm wondering tho, is why aren't they using Geothermal more, given the prevalence of volcanoes and hot springs in the country.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Wind and solar

        Japan's islands have mostly mountainous centres and highly populated coasts. There's very little space to put windmills and solar panels

        1. Loyal Commenter

          Re: Wind and solar

          But plenty of space to drill a hole. Geothermal works very well in Iceland, providing pretty much all of their power (and a fair amount of domestic heating). It should be a no-brainer anywhere where there's easily accessible heat under the ground.

          Granted, the population of Japan is a mite higher than that of Iceland (more people live in the medium-sized city I live in, than the whole of Iceland)

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: Wind and solar

            "more people live in the medium-sized city I live in, than the whole of Iceland"

            make that a small city - Iceland's pop is approx 300k.

            Given the proximity to volcanic activity I would think Japan is well placed for geothermal. I believe geothermal doesn't need a lot of above-ground infrastructure, certainly much lower footprint than a wind or solar farm. No idea if geothermal can also work based on an offshore platform.

            1. Loyal Commenter

              Re: Wind and solar

              ...and the population of the city I live in is around 470k, hence my comment. I think it's fair to call Bristol a medium-sized city, at least in UK terms; it's the 14th largest city in the country. A small city would be somewhere like Wells, with 12k residents.

            2. Loyal Commenter

              Re: Wind and solar

              In terms of offshore geothermal; I would have thought this would have an innate advantage of being able to use the steady temperature differential with the ocean.

          2. herman Silver badge

            Re: Wind and solar

            Geothermal also has issues. Salt corrosion and limestone buildup for example.

    7. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Wind and solar @steviebuk

      Maybe safer maybe, but a lot more intermittent.

      The nuclear generation provides base load, which currently in the UK is provided by gas.

      To provide base load with renewables, we need investment in storage technologies, which is much more uncertain at the moment. It will also almost certainly require large infrastructure projects of the same order of magnitude as new nuclear, and much more than nuclear extension projects.

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Wind and solar @steviebuk

        My understanding of current strategic thinking is that the energy storage will take the form of green hydrogen - overprovision renewables, generate and store hydrogen with surplus power and burn it at night.

        This makes quite a bit of sense - the plants burn gas currently but can gradually switch to Hydrogen as demand requires. I'm not sure how the whole electrolysis to combustion lifecycle efficiency compares to other storage options, but it's probably one of the few technologies that can scale continent wide. And of course we already have the gas plants.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Wind and solar @steviebuk

          Even liquefied (which is difficult because of the low temperatures and/or high pressures required), hydrogen is a nightmare to keep contained.

          Hydrogen molecules are so small that they can make their way through the crystal lattice of most metals, often changing the physical properties of the metal as they go through.

          In addition, and this is a long-term problem rather than a short-term one, once in the atmosphere, they will gather at the top of the atmosphere, and slowly bleed off into space, if they haven't combined with oxygen to create water again, or nitrogen oxides, where they may produce nitric acid.

          You might have thought that electrolysing water should be close to a closed cycle, but it's not. Tthe generation of hydrogen from water is not perfect, The water->hydrogen+oxygen is stated as being 65-70% efficiency, and the re-oxydation is 50-60% efficient, leading to an optimistic overall efficiency of around 40% (https://energystorage.org/why-energy-storage/technologies/hydrogen-energy-storage/), so you only get 40% of the energy you put in back, and much less if you burn the hydrogen in an ICE. The losses will be mainly excess heat (which could be useful, I suppose).

          It does appear like hydrogen may be useful storage medium, but there are significant problems with it.

          1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            Re: Wind and solar @steviebuk

            Sure. There are problems with this of course, although I think at large scale the intent is to store and transport it as Ammonia rather than pure Hydrogen. More losses on conversion, but much less volatile and easier to keep in a tank.

            My point is that Hydrogen, for all its faults, is the only energy store that can be drained by repurposing existing infrastructure. There's a pragmatism to this approach I find reassuring. And I agree that Hydrogen in ICE or (worse) blue hydrogren is just stupid - I'm only talking about grid-scale use.

            As for efficiency, the very page you link to (thanks, interesting) talks of new electrolyzers theorised about 90% efficiency, and 60% from burning in a CCGT. Pumped storage by contrast is 80%, so you're not a million miles away. Yes those electrolyzers are still in development, but then we're also a long way from surplus electricity from renewables too.

    8. Loyal Commenter

      Re: Wind and solar

      I'm pretty sure the Japanese government are capable of holding more than one idea in their heads at a time. If only ours could.

      Wind turbines take time to build and assemble, meanwhile they have a bunch of nuclear plants which just need a once-over* safety check and refuelling.

      *Yes, I'm sure it's a bit more complicated than this, but you get my point.

    9. NXM

      Re: Wind and solar

      That's just ridiculous.

      Those massive fans have to be powered from somewhere. The hotter the planet gets, the faster they have to go to cool it off again. It's just as stupid as outdoor air condtioners.

    10. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Wind and solar

      "A lot quicker to get up and running and also safer."

      New wind/solar vs new nuclear is a lot quicker, but vs recommissioning existing nuclear plants, a lot slower.

      "safer" is debatable, both are extremely safe when done well

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge

    It's a big step in getting rid of power plants burning fossil fuels, which is great.

    I just hope that in the design of the new reactors they will take into account the fact they may have to face earthquakes with a force of 9 on the Richter scale

    1. Spherical Cow Silver badge

      The new reactors are being designed by proper engineers, not El Reg commentards, and I am 100% certain they are aware of the existence of earthquakes.

      p.s. MMS not Richter ;-)

    2. Dave K

      Earthquakes haven't been a problem so far in Japan for the existing reactors. If there is something the Japanese understand well, it is building earthquake-resistant buildings.

      Regarding Fukashima, the earthquake wasn't the problem. The reactors all shut down exactly as they should have done and were undamaged. I cannot recall any instances of a Japanese reactor being damaged by an earthquake in the decades they have been operating. The problems were a sea-wall that wasn't high enough to protect against a large tsunami, and backup generators for the first 4 reactors which were at ground level. Even with the flooding, reactors 5 and 6 were fine as the backup generators were built up on a hillside and cooling was not impacted for those.

      Lessons will have been learnt from this and I'm sure Japan will only restart reactors that do not share the backup power flaws that Fukashima 1-4 had.

  7. RAMChYLD

    And sadly, they've also been having some very bad power shortage as well despite going for renewable energy. According to a youtube channel I frequent, a lot of them are also instructed to not use air conditioning at home during the summer months because their power production is already at full capacity. Some neighborhoods in the Tokyo metro area even faces daily brownouts.

    However, I still have my reservations about Nuclear, especially after Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima. And especially if they're staffed by a bunch of bozos (which the Japanese aren't, but it's why I don't want to ever see a nuclear plant here in Malaysia). Unless the boffins can work out cold fusion, I don't want to live within 200 miles of a reactor.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Well, you certainly do not want to be living on same planet as large-scale fossil-fuel burning systems.

    2. fajensen
      Pint

      ... staffed by a bunch of bozos (which the Japanese aren't,

      I think that for any population or group one cares to investigate, 1 in 5 of will be a moron!

      The "moron quotient" is quite independent on how the population was selected. Whatever we do, invariably, 20% of ones colleagues will in fact be idiots. My experience in big-science and engineering matches well with those numbers.

      In Japan, the grid frequency is 50 Hertz in Eastern Japan (Tokyo, Yokohama and other northern area), and 60 Hertz in Western Japan. They cannot easily transfer power between the regions because the links do not have the capacity so they have more trouble with varying electricity demands and supplies than they should have.

      This could be solved with technology that Japan also have (Hitachi makes FACTS, and HVDC links) or standardising, but, they cannot decide to go for one of the frequency standards for whatever, politics, probably, and they won't buy the HVDC links because, probably, it is a lot cheaper to just standardise.

      The same happens in Sweden, but for different reasons. The people who own Sweden likes cheap power for their mining and smelters in the North. They get that from hydroelectic power plants. They like to keep it that way so when the electrical market was created, "somehow", no new North-South link capacity was built even though "The Market" should have magicked that up.

      Their "solution" is similar, to push for nuclear power in the South, knowing damn well that even if they manage to build this thing, all that "cheap and abundant" power is immediately going to be sucked right up into the EU Markets, while Northern electricy prices stays exactly the same, because the power that cannot be transferred cannot be sold in "The Market".

      It takes 15-30 years to build a new nuclear power plant, so that is 15-30 years where "we don't have to do anything inconvenient because The Solution is riiight around the corner, any day now, just these small cracks in some castings."

      Delay and distract (and old people, pining for their good old days) is "the game" behind the sudden interest in nuclear power, nobody important cares that it won't work and it cannot work - because of the Morons, who will, inevitably, end up in key positions all over the supply chain, management and in operations.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I believe Japan already has a good capacity of HVDC interconnects between the 50 and 60Hz regions. It is not the only part of the world where 50 and 60Hz meet, just the only one within the same country :)

    3. Loyal Commenter

      "According to a YouTube channel I frequent" is the modern equivalent of "Dave down the pub says..."

  8. Auntie Dix Bronze badge
    FAIL

    "Green" Idiocy: Wind, Solar, Batteries...

    The relentless "green" propaganda sounds like that of "channelers" and pyramid hats. Media morons repeat "green" nonsense unchallenged, and the young-and-clueless lap it up.

    None of the above fairy dust can replace at scale fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Period. Stop the BS. Consult the truly smart experts in power generation, civil engineering, etc. Look for gray at the temples and decades of experience completing real-world projects.

    California's Governor Noisome just applauded an asinine decision to outlaw combustion engines in the State, via a $20,000 fine per car over a given year's quota. This is the idiot pol who could not even build his mass-transit pipe dream. So, "dream crazier" is his next bad idea?

    It is no wonder that CA residents are fleeing.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: "Green" Idiocy: Wind, Solar, Batteries...

      Oh noes... we can't use renewables because my calculator doesn't work if I lock it in a coal cellar.

      https://reneweconomy.com.au/a-near-100-per-cent-renewables-grid-is-well-within-reach-and-with-little-storage/

      Yes, I know australia is not Japan, the UK, or the US.

      But it's the best detailed study I am aware of, looking at what would happen if we scaled up wind and solar generation using real world data, doing it week at a time, in real time...

  9. Big_Boomer

    Human failures, not Nuclear

    Chernobyl, caused by people doing stupid things and a lack of maintenance. Three Mile Island, caused by people doing stupid things but was at least contained to within the reactor building itself. It led to changes in all western nuclear power plant control systems to prevent any recurrence. Fukushima, caused by stupid short sighted management not paying the extra to mount the backup cooling system generators on the reactor building roof where they would be safe AS WAS ORIGINALLY PLANNED, and instead putting them where a tsunami could wash them away. All reactor buildings are built to withstand local geological forces and Fukushima withstood the tsunami just fine, except for those backup cooling system generators. Nukes are not THE solution as there is no one solution, but they are part of the solution at least for the foreseeable future. If you are wishing for cold fusion, why not wish for Zero Point Energy instead? Both are about as likely to be harnessed effectively anytime soon and the 2nd does not rely on water.

    Nuclear power production is MASSIVELY safer than any fossil fuel system even when you add in human stupidity and short-sightedness. Yes, there are issues but the over-reaction to those issues is ridiculous when coal and oil is killing so many more people right now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: Human failures, not Nuclear

      Chernobyl also completely unsafe design of reactor.

      1. Loyal Commenter

        Re: Human failures, not Nuclear

        ...and the reason why all modern reactor designs have secondary containment (the only thing separating the Chernobyl reactor from the outside world was the roof).

    2. fajensen

      Re: Human failures, not Nuclear

      Reality has a way of finding the holes in ones grand designs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Human failures, not Nuclear

        Quite! The "economistas" told us that sanctions on the Russians would soon cripple their economy and bring them back to the negotiating table. Keep Calm And Carry On, it will all be over by Christmas! That's looking a bit silly now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Human failures, not Nuclear

          Our crippling energy bills are the price of freedom, or something like that!

          We must endure so Raytheon and Lockheed martin can make more money.

  10. Binraider Silver badge

    This will help alleviate the global LNG supply situation; which can only be a good thing. LNG prices spiked following the moratorium on Japanese Nuke; and obviously spiked again with recent events.

    There aren't too many other fleets of nukes sitting around idle, but frankly anything to offset the demand is welcome.

    At home, in the short term we can try and figure out how to use less; and somewhat desperately also need to look at the pricing regime (particularly failures of CfD).

    Just where is the income above the CfD threshold going? Sure as hell not going back to consumers... :-P

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nuclear power is like a bad surgeon

    You need to bury your mistakes.

  12. Pennsyjohn

    Reuse of old Reactor mechanicals

    We here in the NYC are ust shut down two sites dur to age of the reactor containments. I have not heard of the generators, turbines, etc being scrapped. wonder iff new reactors were built, could they be connected up to these parts and used to generate power. The old reactors could be left until they could be safely removed and we would still have power. Anybody ever think of this ?

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