Japan Is Now Running on 0% Nuclear Power. That Means Using More Fossil Fuels.

By Veronique Greenwood | May 8, 2012 2:39 pm

The Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 1975, seen from above.

As of this weekend, when Tomari Nuclear Power Plant was shutdown for maintenance, every last one of Japan’s 54 nuclear plants have Japan has been taken offline. Although the shutdowns are supposed to be temporary, after the power utilities’ mismanagement of the Fukushima disaster last year, the Japanese public has registered increasing distrust for official reassurances that nuclear power can be safe. These shutdowns could conceivably become permanent.

The world’s major economies all use nuclear power to some extent, and Japan, which got about 30% of its power from reactors, was one of the heavier users before the the Fukushima meltdown. Now, public opinion there and the world over has soured toward nuclear power, to the extent that Germany has officially announced plans to abandon nuclear completely by 2022.

As Bryan Walsh at TIME Science points out, though, this backlash against one of the few high-output energy sources that does not involve fossil fuels comes with a price.

Japan’s business community and its government have warned that the country could face serious energy shortages this summer without nuclear power, which could dent the world’s third largest economy as it struggles to bounce back from the tsunami. Without nuclear power, Japan is projected to produce an additional 180 million to 210 million tons of carbon emissions this fiscal year compared with 1990, wiping out much of the improvements the country made over the past few years as it worked to meet its carbon-cutting commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

Read more at TIME.

Image courtesy of National Land Image Information (Color Aerial Photographs), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

  • Alejandra

    The problem is not wheter we use nuclear power or fossil fuels. The question should be how do we stop requiring the ammount of energy we need right now, how do we change our lifestyles. I dont think the bad news is that Japan is going to start burning more fossil fuels, rather it is that Japan (and the world) hasnt changed their minds about energy.

  • http://discovermagazine.com Iain

    But Iran with ‘all the oil in the world’ is aggressively pursuing nuclear power. Just for peaceful purposes of course.

  • Dr. G. Arena

    Thorium reactors wuld be lower cost than any other solution and really safe.

  • Kaviani

    Idiot Iain apparently has never heard of relevance or commodity manipulation.

  • Geack

    @ 1. Alejandra,
    How much of our energy usage do you think the developed world can give up? Modern industrialized economies provide such a radically better standard of living for the vast majority of people that it’s simply impossible to expect us to give it up completely. Even if we somehow cut our energy use by 50% per capita, the dramatic increases in energy use as the people of the developing world claim the benefits of modern life will overwhelm the improvement. Efficiency and usage reduction are necessary, but far from sufficient. Better sources of power are an absolute necessity moving forward.


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