Fukushima Pledges to be 100% Renewable Energy by 2040

Originally published on ThinkProgress by Guest Contributor Ari Phillips

Image Credit: Fukushima map via Shigenobu AOKI
Image Credit: Fukushima map via Shigenobu AOKI

The province of Fukushima in northeast Japan, devastated nearly three years ago by the earthquake and tsunami that caused a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, has pledged to go 100 percent renewable by 2040.

The energy will be generated through local community initiatives throughout the province of nearly two million.

Announced at a Community Power Conference held in Fukushima this week, it goes against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s agenda to reboot nuclear power throughout the country.

“The Japanese government is very much negative,” said Tetsunari Iida, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies in Japan.

“Local government like the Fukushima prefecture or the Tokyo metropolitan government are much more active, more progressive compared to the national government, which is occupied by the industry people.”

Former Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa is running for mayor of Tokyo on an anti-nuclear platform.

The February 9 election is seen as a referendum on Abe’s efforts to restart nuclear reactors and on the future of nuclear power in Japan in general.

“Tokyo is shoving nuclear power plants and nuclear waste to other regions, while enjoying the convenience (of electricity) as a big consumer,” Hosokawa said during a late January news conference. “The myth that nuclear power is clean and safe has collapsed. We don’t even have a place to store nuclear waste. Without that, restarting the plants would be a crime against future generations.”

Fukushima currently gets 22 percent of its energy from renewable sources. In November, a 2-megawatt offshore wind turbine started operating about 12 miles off Fukushima’s coast. Two more 7-megawatt turbines are in the planning stages. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has said that total offshore wind capacity may reach up to 1,000 megawatts.

“Fukushima is making a stride toward the future step by step,” Yuhei Sato, Governor of Fukushima, said at the turbine’s opening ceremony. “Floating offshore wind is a symbol of such a future.”

A 26-megawatt solar power station also just broke ground in the prefecture. Japan’s solar market is booming and far exceeded solar analysts’ 2013 predictions, in large part due to government incentives such as a feed-in tariff that was passed into law shortly after the Fukushima meltdown. The shuttering of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors after the incident forced the government to focus on alternative electricity sources.

“There’s still a long way to go in Japan because the official government position is still very pro-nuclear, so it would be naïve to say this is an easy way, that we just need to set an example and other regions will follow,” Stefan Schurig, Director of the Climate and Energy Department of the World Future Council, said at the Community Power Conference in Fukushima.

The debate over the future of nuclear power on a global scale is hardly a two-sided polemic. Nuclear power is still staggeringly expensive, and has not become cheaper over the decades as many expected.

Yet James Hansen, a prominent climatologist advocating for immediate action on climate change and further investment in nuclear power recently told the National Journal, “It seems to me that there are a lot of environmentalists who are beginning to look into the facts and appreciate the potential environmental advantages of intelligent development of nuclear power.”

However in Japan the scars of nuclear catastrophe are still fresh in the public’s mind. A September, 2013 survey found that that 53 percent of Japanese people wanted to see nuclear power phased out gradually, and 23 percent wanted it immediately done with.

The local situation is still unresolved, with nuclear radiation around the Fukushima power plant about eight times government safety guidelines as of mid-January.

Radioactive water leaks from the plant have also been an ongoing issue of concern — both for locals and the international community — with about 300 metric tons of contaminated groundwater seeping into the ocean each day, according to Japan’s government. On Monday the government announced new guidelines for capturing water before it becomes contaminated and flows into the ocean.

The government is also negotiating with the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations to gain approval to dump groundwater from the Fukushima power plant into the ocean under the assertion that the radioactive contamination would be under the legal limit.

In the meantime, a Renewable Energy Village (REV) with 120 solar panels and plans for wind turbines has sprouted up on the contaminated farmland surrounding the power plant.

This is an example of the type of project renewable energy advocates in the region hope to see more of in the quest toward the goal of 100 percent renewable power by 2040.

Radiation-tainted water from Fukushima is expected to arrive at American shores this year. In December, Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Allison Macfarlane said that water would reach U.S. at levels less than 100 times lower than the accepted drinking water threshold. Scientists are prepared to test waters, but are skeptical that dangerous levels of contamination will be found.

“We don’t know if we’re going to find a signal of the radiation,” Matt Edwards, a UT San Diego scientist working on one such project, told RedOrbit.

“And I personally don’t believe it’ll represent a health threat if there is one. But it’s worth asking whether there’s a reason to be concerned about a disaster that occurred on the other side of the planet some time ago.”

This article, Fukushima Pledges To Go 100% Renewable, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

Fukushima Radioactive Plume To Hit The US By Early 2014

By Nathan — Special to JBS News

The first radioactive ocean plume released by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster will finally be reaching the shores of the United States sometime in 2014, according to a new study from the University of New South Wales — a full three or so years after date of the disaster.

Many researchers, and also officials from the World Health Organization, have argued that the radioactive particles that do make their way to the US will have a very limited effect on human health — as the concentration of radioactive material in US waters will be well below World Health Organization safety levels. But needless to say, there is some debate on this matter…

For the new work, the researchers utilized a number of different ocean simulations to track the path of the radiation from the Fukushima incident — the models used have identified the most likely path that the plume will take over the next ten years.

fukushima radiation

Surface (0–200m) of Cesium-137 concentrations (Bq/m3) by (a)April 2012, (b) April 2014 (c) April 2016 and (d) April 2021.Image Credit: University of New South Wales

“Observers on the west coast of the United States will be able to see a measurable increase in radioactive material three years after the event,” stated study author Dr. Erik van Sebille. “However, people on those coastlines should not be concerned as the concentration of radioactive material quickly drops below World Health Organization safety levels as soon as it leaves Japanese waters.”

The University of New South Wales has more:

Two energetic currents off the Japanese coast — the Kuroshio Current and the Kurushio Extension — are primarily responsible for accelerating the dilution of the radioactive material, taking it well below WHO safety levels within four months.

Eddies and giant whirlpools — some tens of kilometers wide — and other currents in the open ocean continue this dilution process and direct the radioactive particles to different areas along the US west coast.

Interestingly, the great majority of the radioactive material will stay in the North Pacific, with very little crossing south of the Equator in the first decade. Eventually over a number of decades, a measurable but otherwise harmless signature of the radiation will spread into other ocean basins, particularly the Indian and South Pacific oceans.

“Although some uncertainties remain around the total amount released and the likely concentrations that would be observed, we have shown unambiguously that the contact with the north-west American coasts will not be identical everywhere,” stated Dr. Vincent Rossi.

“Shelf waters north of 45°N will experience higher concentrations during a shorter period, when compared to the Californian coast. This late but prolonged exposure is due to the three-dimensional pathways of the plume. The plume will be forced down deeper into the ocean toward the subtropics before rising up again along the southern Californian shelf.”

“Australia and other countries in the Southern Hemisphere will see little if any radioactive material in their coastal waters and certainly not at levels to cause concern,” Dr. van Sebille continued.

Those interested in doing so can track the path of the radiation on a website created by the researchers.

The new research was just published new in the journal Deep-Sea Research 1.

This article, Fukushima Radioactive Plume To Hit The US By Early 2014, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

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For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. – Ecclesiastes 3:19

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Port Hope Nuclear Waste:10-Year Cleanup Of Radioactive Material To Cost $1.28 Billion | MY COMMENT

Port Hope Nuclear Waste:10-Year Cleanup Of Radioactive Material To Cost $1.28 Billion — The Canadian Press
January 14, 2012

MY COMMENT — Full marks to the Conservati­ve government on announcing this clean-up project.

Yes, it should have been started years ago, but at least it is about to be done now.

A word about nuclear. It is hugely expensive to build, cheap to operate and produces cheap power for decades – and then there is the spent fuel rods – some of which must be securely stored for 20,000 years. Also, there is the risk radioactiv­e leaks, of the type we see at this site, or large scale contam as occurred in Fukushima, Japan.

Which is why Japan has shut down a majority of it’s 54 nuclear reactors and has just signed a huge oil deal with the Saudi’s. Japan expects to triple petroleum imports (compared to 2010 levels) to make up the difference while all those reactors sit idle.

Germany likewise, is getting out of nuclear. They planned to do it in less than 20 years. After inspecting their reactors, they say they will complete that process sooner.

If only solar and wind (and other sustainabl­es) had the same level of government subsidizat­ion as nuclear. Nuclear stock-hold­ers could simply switch their investment­s over to green energy stocks and make the same, or more, return on their investment­.

In the U.S. decommissi­oned nuclear plants are now having wind-turbi­nes and solar arrays installed, even as the clean-up continues. Hanford, Washington will take decades to remediate, but sustainabl­e energy is being installed on that site as we speak.

We could do the same.