10% conservation - nuclear = still a lot more fossil fuels

The past year in Japan, the country has used between 6-10% less power but produced approximately 20-30% more carbon emissions (as well as other pollution- SO2, NOx, ozone, etc, which goes along with that).  While it is not easy to find in the news, Japan has seen a doubling of the use of oil, a 30% increase in liquified natural gas, and a 5% increase in the use of coal. (Reuters imports report)

All of these imports have meant that for the first time in many years, Japan has a trade deficit.  And because they are planning to permanently shut down their nuclear plants, the deficit, a depressed economy further kneecapped by expensive and unreliable energy, the carbon emissions, and the pollution are there to stay.  The Kyoto protocol, signed in Japan, simply cannot be met by a Japan without nuclear power-- even with drastic conservation.

For a discussion on the effects of the radiation from the Japanese nuclear plant at Fukushima, see the blog post here.




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5 comments

  1. My only hope for Japan is that rational thinkers will somehow make their voices heard. Otherwise, their loss will be a net job gain in Vietnam and the southeastern US - two places that are working hard to build new nuclear electricity generation capacity.

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  2. My suspicion is that the Japanese reaction to Fukushima can be likened to a kind of 'Seppuku', which is the ritual suicide performed in historical times by a samurai lost face due to some failure, accident or mistake (even sometimes when it was not really their fault).

    In Germany there may be a similar situation, with the German 'Seppuku' perhaps still having something to do with the shame of the holocaust perpetrated by the nazi's.

    Both countries appear predisposed to impulsively take actions involving self-humiliation and self-mutilation, as illustrated in this case by their choice to destroy their own nuclear industrial base for no sound reason.

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  3. First I thought that was it was impressive to see such an increase in carbon intensity given that the percentage of nuclear was not that high at first.
    Then I noticed the trick you're playing with the scale of that graph. Please, leave to the renewable advocates the cheap tricks to make graphs look a lot more dramatic.

    Given that it only went from 2.11 to 2.22, a stronger argument IMO would be to give the absolute number of CO2 tons that it means and also use the death by TWh statistics to calculate how many people died from resorting to fossil fuel.

    They are a few people that were killed by the Fukushima incident, the aged people who were victims of the bad sanitary conditions of the evacuation over long month (around 500 premature deaths).
    But then, using the LNT hypothesis shows it would have been comparatively safer to leave them home (maybe with two or three weeks of evacuation to wait for 131i to decline).

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    1. reducing co2 intensity in a developed economy is extremely hard. achieving a year on year decline of even 2% is almost impossible. Achieving a 3% year on year decline - the minimum if we want to avoid catastrophic cliamte change - is even more difficult. So yes, the jump in co2 intensity caused by Japan's nuclear exit is cause for alarm.

      And granted, non-zero scaled graphs are misleading to most people, although in this case it helps see that the jump since march 2011 cannot be explained by 'natural variation'. Doesn't it?

      I'm looking forward to more posts from Caroline.

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    2. You're right and I was a bit harsh. But the same logic applies to Germany that wasted an inane amount of investment in renewable by closing most of it's nuclear capacity last year, and the result is that most of the renewable advocates are proud to say "thanks to what was invested in renewable, there was almost no increase in CO2 after closing all that nuclear", seeing no problem in neglecting the fact that *if* it had not been closed, 2011 would have been the year were that huge investment would have started to pay off, and it would at least have caused a somewhat significant reduction in co2 intensity in Germany.

      So the end conclusion is that renewable advocates don't care at all about apparently small co2 intensity variation *if* it doesn't go in their way (and the general public cares even less), and an argumentation based on that will have little effect. And it's more efficient to focus on something that has more impact.

      Or then try to reeducate people about why a 2 or 3% change is already very hard, or very significant. But first that's hard, and then you need to take into account that weather or economic variation (recession, etc.) can generate yearly changes that are as big as that.

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