Nuclear Power news

Tiny nuclear plants called key to future

Japan Times: Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster started, the incoming head of the Nuclear Energy Agency says. The modular plants could be about as big as a couple of semi-trailers, easily fitting on the dimensions of coal plants they are ultimately intended to replace in the U.S. They would have factory-built parts that are slotted together like...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Manager at Japan's Fukushima plant admits radioactive water 'embarrassing'

OKUMA, Japan (Reuters) - The manager of the Fukushima nuclear power plant admits to embarrassment that repeated efforts have failed to bring under control the problem of radioactive water, eight months after Japan's prime minister told the world the matter was resolved.

Read more [Reuters]

The global peril of droughts in the Amazon

SciDevNet: The Amazon rainforest may release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it stores during droughts, a February paper in Nature found. Luciana Vanni Gatti of the Nuclear Energy Research Institute in Brazil reached that conclusion in a project involving fellow Brazilian researchers and colleagues from Australia, the United Kingdom and United States. The study shows that the Amazon's ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere seems to be linked to rainfall. If further research confirms this...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

New Micro-algae Clean Highly Radioactive Waste Cheaply

Environment News Service: A single-celled green alga that can tolerate extreme conditions may soon be widely used to clean up radioactive effluents and wastewater from nuclear facilities in an inexpensive and environmentally-safe manner. Most organisms are killed by the radioactivity, but the micro-alga Coccomyxa actinabiotis is extremely radioresistant and strongly accumulates radionuclides. Coccomyxa actinabiotis can resist a radiation dose of 20,000 grays (Gy), about 2,000 times the lethal human dose. The gray is...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Japan to face tight power supply in summer; blackouts not expected

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's power supply will be tight this summer if all its nuclear reactors remain shut, although blackouts are not expected as long as there are no problems at the thermal fuel plants now providing the bulk of the country's electricity.

Read more [Reuters]

Japan prefers coal over renewables for post-Fukushima energy mix

Blue and Green: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has approved a new energy plan that promotes coal as a cheap, stable, long-term and efficient energy source, along with nuclear power, while failing to set adequate renewable energy targets. Shortly after the UN warned that the world must dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels and increase investment in clean energy in order to tackle climate change, the Japanese government has given the green light to a new energy plan that would give a prominent role to...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Japan to take after China in using coal for energy demands

Japan Daily Press: Japan will soon join the ranks of China, which has shifted its energy source to coal, after the government announced a new energy plan on Friday. In the new draft approved by Japan’s ruling coalition Liberal Democratic Party and its partner New Komeito on Thursday, coal has been indicated as an important source of energy as a majority of its nuclear plants remain offline. While many environmentalists have called for alternative sources of energy in Japan, given the devastating effects the 2011...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Post-Fukushima Japan chooses coal over renewable energy

Bloomberg: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing Japan’s coal industry to expand sales at home and abroad, undermining hopes among environmentalists that he’d use the Fukushima nuclear accident to switch the nation to renewables. A new energy plan approved by Japan’s cabinet on April 11 designates coal an important long-term electricity source while falling short of setting specific targets for cleaner energy from wind, solar and geothermal. The policy also gives nuclear power the same prominence as coal...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

'Modest hope' to slow warming but no 'free lunch,' U.N. warns

CNN: Keeping global warming down to a level people can live with means cutting carbon emissions to "near zero" by the end of the century, even in an increasingly industrialized world, the top U.N. experts on the issue reported Sunday. That may be doable, but it will take "substantial investments" in everything from planting more trees to replacing fossil fuels with low-carbon power sources like solar, wind and nuclear energy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced in its latest report....
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

UN climate study: still time to save the world

Financial Times: Disastrous effects of global warming can still be avoided, the world’s leading climate scientists say, but only by making a concerted international effort to cut carbon emissions through heavy investment in renewable and nuclear energy sources. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s third report of a trio on global warming, released on Sunday, focuses on “mitigation” – how to fight rising temperatures by limiting the build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere....
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

In post-Fukushima policy test, Japan town rallies for nuclear re-start

SATSUMASENDAI, Japan (Reuters) - On the main road leading from the Sendai nuclear plant in southern Japan, a construction crew is laying down asphalt to widen the evacuation route in the event of a future disaster.

Read more [Reuters]

Act fast to curb global warming, or extract CO2 from air: UN

Reuters: A United Nations report said on Sunday that governments must act faster to slow global warming and delays until 2030 could force reliance on little-tested technologies to extract greenhouse gases from the air. The study, drawing on work by more than 1,000 experts, said a radical shift from conventional fossil fuels to low-carbon energy such as wind, solar or nuclear power would shave only about 0.06 percentage point a year off world economic growth. "It does not cost the world to save the planet,"...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Renewables, nuclear must triple to save climate, UN says

Bloomberg: The world needs to triple the energy it gets from renewables, nuclear reactors and power plants that use emissions-capture technology to avoid dangerous levels of global warming, United Nations scientists said. Investments needed to keep climate change within safe limits would shave a fraction of a percent off annual global growth, the UN said today in the third part of its most comprehensive study on warming. A delay in stemming rising greenhouse gases will cut chances to limit the global temperature...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

UN study offers climate change hope

Financial Times: Disastrous effects of global warming can still be avoided, the world’s leading climate scientists say, but only by making a concerted international effort to cut carbon emissions through heavy investment in renewable and nuclear energy sources. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s third report of a trio on global warming, released on Sunday, focuses on “mitigation” – how to fight rising temperatures by limiting the build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere....
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Act fast curb global warming or extract CO2 from air: UN

Reuters: The study, drawing on the work of more than 1,000 experts, said a shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy such as wind, solar or nuclear power was affordable and would shave only about 0.06 percentage point a year off world economic growth. "We have a window of opportunity for the next decade, and maximum the next two decades" to act at moderate costs, said Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of a Berlin meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "I'm not saying it's costless....
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

To slow warming, no more 'business as usual,' UN experts say

CNN: Keeping global warming down to a level people can live with means cutting carbon emissions to "near zero" by the end of the century, even in an increasingly industrialized world, the top U.N. experts on the issue concluded Sunday. That may be doable, but it will take "substantial investments" in everything from planting more trees to replacing fossil fuels with low-carbon power sources like solar and nuclear energy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced in its latest report....
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

UN Climate Report Charts Ways to Halt Global Warming

National Geographic: Just a few decades remain to halt global warming and head off its most catastrophic effects, says a new United Nations report that offers a sweeping menu of climate change fixes that would require global cooperation to implement. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) mitigation report, released Sunday in Berlin, explores some 1,200 steps to avert the worsening effects of global warming by 2100. The proposals range from planting more trees to relying much more on nuclear power. elated:...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Shift to green energy will be tiny brake on growth: UN

Reuters: A radical shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy would slow world economic growth by only a tiny fraction every year, a new draft U.N. report on tackling global warming said on Friday. Many governments had complained that an earlier draft was not clear in its estimate of the costs of low-carbon energy, which include solar or wind, nuclear and fossil fuels whose greenhouse gas emissions are captured and buried underground. The new draft, which is being edited by government officials and scientists...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Gambling problem?

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meets on measures to reduce the impact of climate change, the answer to the global problem remains clear: The world must stop betting on a dirty fossil fuel energy system and should instead double-down on investment in clean, sustainable renewable energy.

While no easy task, the good news is that the shift is already beginning.

In a report released today, WWF details how action is being taken to promote renewable energy in countries around the world. The report -- Decarbonizing the Future: Seizing Power for Global Change -- demonstrates the solutions for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and holding global temperature increases below 2°C.

In India, a national action plan will result in up to 20 billion watts of grid-based solar power coming online by 2022 – accounting for close to 10% of India's total installed power generation capacity.

In China, where wind power is already generating more electricity than nuclear, Decarbonizing the Future shows how proven renewable energy technology could support over 80% of the country's growing power demand toward 2050.

In Norway, the world's largest sovereign wealth fund is evaluating the climate change impact of its coal, oil & gas investments.

In Mexico, a national program details specific sectors and cross-sector activities for each ministry in the public administration, including clean energy infrastructure and forest conservation.

In South Africa, where per capita emissions are higher than in China and India, WWF is working to help the old carbon economy become more efficient and productive using green economy strategies and building completely new sectors through low carbon technologies, infrastructure and systems.

"The clear message from the IPCC is that climate change is a massive risk that the world isn't doing enough to tackle. Changing the world's energy sector is central to the task of confronting that risk. We can't continue to gamble with the future of the world we depend on," said Dr Stephan Singer, Director of Global Energy Policy for WWF.

With renewable energy such a safe bet, why keep bluffing our way through taking real action on climate change? As Decarbonizing the Future shows, action on climate change is accessible, achievable and is already being taken.

WWF's Seize Your Power campaign calls on financial institutions to significantly increase their funding of renewable energy and cut funding to fossil fuels as a key means of tackling climate change. In the past year the World Bank, European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have all committed to virtually end coal investments.

Read more [WWF]

Battle Plan for Climate Change: How to Cut Greenhouse Gases

National Geographic: Trust in technology: That seems to be the underlying message of a coming report from the world's top panel on climate change. elated: "Can Coal Ever Be Clean?") Scheduled for release on Sunday in Berlin, Germany, the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report will point to many possible ways-from burying greenhouse gases to going nuclear to encouraging biofuel production-to save humanity from the ravages of climate change. "We are at a critical juncture," IPCC chair Rajendra...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

How Germany is revolutionising its energy system. And who's standing in the way.

As the UN climate panel meets in Berlin this week to finalise its report on options for combating climate change, here's how Germany is rising to the challenge.

Rapidly reduce your reliance on coal? AND phase out nuclear power at the same time? Can't be done? Yes, it can. Germany is on its way to revolutionising its energy system. The ambitious transition, known as the "Energiewende", is turning the country into a pioneer for a greener, fairer way to produce energy.

The recipe? A massive increase in renewable energy. The growth of clean energy in Germany has already more than made up for the nuclear capacity that was closed down following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Renewable output equivalent to more than eight large nuclear reactors has been added in just three years. It's leading to a substantial cut in power generation from dirty and deadly fossil fuels.



Last year, more than 32 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity was installed in Germany adding to the more than 35 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) power already in place. There are now more than one million solar PV systems on rooftops of private homes, farms and small companies.

In 2013, the amount of renewable electricity generated (146.2 TWh, terawatt-hours) exceeded that from any other single source contributing to Germany's energy mix!

The "Energiewende" is the Energy [R]evolution in action. And the programme enjoys strong and widespread social and political support in Germany.

It has already made a huge contribution to the global fight against climate change by commercialising wind and solar power – two key renewable energy technologies that are now being deployed globally from China to the US.

But the job isn't done yet. The European Emissions Trading System (ETS) is one area where we're still facing a problem: every kilowatt-hour of renewable energy frees up emissions allowances in the system. But rather than these allowances being discarded, they are being sold and used elsewhere. As a result, the market price of carbon dioxide (CO2) is now so low that even the dirtiest coal plants are profitable. That's why there has actually been an increase in coal-sourced electricity over the past few years.

And the big energy companies, such as RWE and Vattenfall, are still doing their best to block a clean energy future. Rather than reading the sign of the times, these corporations are stubbornly sticking to their old business models, for instance pushing forward the mining of lignite (lignite, often referred to as "brown coal", is one of the most carbon-intensive fuels around). 

The benefits that underpin Germany's "Energiewende" aren't just environmental; they are social and economic too. Transforming the energy system combats global climate change, fosters public ownership of renewable generation assets and stimulates job growth within a green energy economy.

Germany will have cut its CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020, and the country aims to meet all - 100% - of its electricity demand with renewables by 2050. The "Energiewende" demonstrates that renewable energy is the best solution for drastically reducing carbon emissions. By being a pioneer in this way, Germany is demonstrating "best practice" in energy transformation that should assure people, governments and business everywhere: this can be done!

But the fight is not over yet. The outdated fossil fuel industry continues to stand in the way of a fair, sustainable energy system for the 21st century – a system that will benefit all of us. When will these dinosaurs from another age accept that it's our vision of the future that's going to win this, not theirs?

Karsten Smid is a Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Germany.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

German cabinet set to approve flagship renewable energy reform

Reuters: The German government will give its blessing on Tuesday to a sweeping reform of renewable energy laws designed to slow cost increases as Europe's largest economy moves to nearly double its green power share to 45 percent by 2025. Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet will adopt reforms to put the 'Energiewende', or transition to renewable energy, on a sustainable path as Germany attempts to wean itself off of nuclear energy and fossil fuels without killing off industries and jobs. The reforms will...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

How the tech industry can help save the climate

Connecting people across continents. Delivering breaking news. Enabling government transparency. Facilitating social revolutions. Stopping global warming?

The Internet is capable of doing so much, but perhaps the idea that it can help rescue the planet from runaway global warming comes as a surprise to you.

Every time we post a Facebook status to our friends, watch the latest episode of our favorite show on Netflix, or tweet to our followers, that information is housed in giant data centers which require a lot of electricity. These data centers are a key part of the cloud, and a single one can require as much energy as a medium-sized city.

If cloud computing were a country, it would rank sixth in the world on the basis of how much electricity it uses, and the amount of data shuttling around the world is expected to triple in the next few years as more and more people get connected.

The Internet we love, and the companies that run it, are at a crossroads in terms of where their energy comes from. Many of these companies have already chosen the road to a green internet and a sustainable future. Facebook, Apple and Google have committed to 100 percent renewable energy, in response to users around the world who have asked them for a greener internet. Other fast-growing technology companies, like Salesforce, Rackspace and Box, have joined them in making the same commitment, proving that 100 percent renewable energy is 100 percent possible for any company with the will.

By contrast some of the most popular online companies, including social media sites that we use every day like Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr, still power their platforms with fossil fuels and nuclear energy. The largest cloud company currently is Amazon Web Services, a division of Amazon.com, and hosts the data for some of the most popular online brands in the world. But unlike other major online brands like Google and Apple, Amazon is still primarily powering its digital empire with the dirty sources of energy that threaten our communities and our climate. Of course, Amazon doesn't have to remain stuck in the energy sources of the 1800s. Energy sources like wind and solar made up for more than half of all the new electricity in the United States in 2012.

Meanwhile digital pioneers are making our world greener, both online and offline. Apple is operating the largest privately owned solar installation in the U.S. at one of its data centers. Facebook pushed a U.S. power company to supply its data center with 100 percent wind energy. Google has pioneered the use of clean power purchases, buying wind energy to provide electricity for its services like Gmail and YouTube, as well as the rest of the power grid.

If Amazon and others want to stay innovative and relevant, it's high time they made the switch to the abundant, sustainable, renewable energy of today.

Simply put, we need a greener online to preserve a greener offline.

The Internet has helped move the world to more freedom, transparency and democracy. It's only natural that it moves the world to a clean energy revolution that will last for generations to come. These companies can make that happen, but only if they hear from you.

Join me in asking our favorite Internet companies to commit to 100 percent renewable energy for their data centers.

Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Under Revised Quake Estimates, Dozens Nuclear Reactors Face Costly Safety Analyses

New York Times: Owners of at least two dozen nuclear reactors across the United States, including the operator of Indian Point 2, in Buchanan, N.Y., have told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they cannot show that their reactors would withstand the most severe earthquake that revised estimates say they might face, according to industry experts. As a result, the reactors’ owners will be required to undertake extensive analyses of their structures and components. Those are generally sturdier than assumed in...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Japan: Fukushima Children Start School, Flee Radiation

Associated Press: The 12-year-old girl didn't want to leave her younger brother, and her grandparents didn't want her to go away. But a family living near the "no-go zone" surrounding Japan's destroyed nuclear plant has other things to consider. Yukie Hashimoto and her husband sent their daughter 300 kilometers (200 miles) away to the picturesque ski town of Matsumoto, where the mayor offered to take in and educate young people living in the shadow of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Research has not shown...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Tired of climate doom and gloom? Read this.

I bet you read the "news" last week. Climate change impacts are now everywhere and it's going to get much worse if we continue polluting our way into the future.

It's frustrating. It's infuriating. And it makes you want to switch off.

But wait. Scientists are not done yet, and it's about to get exciting. Starting today in Berlin, experts from around the world will be finalizing the third part of UN climate panel's periodic climate assessment, discussing ways to fight this beast.

A lot has happened since they last assessed ways to cut climate pollution in 2007.  

In politics, we witnessed how climate change topped the global political agenda in 2009 and culminated in the Copenhagen summit, referenced even as 'the most important international meeting since the Second World War'.  Well, that didn't end well. Countries agreed to disagree on emission cuts and since then climate politics have been pretty much stuck while emissions have kept growing.

But in technology, things look very different today. Renewable energy has made a breakthrough: it's bigger, it’s cheaper and it's ready to challenge dirty energy.

There's now over ten times more solar photovoltaic, six times more concentrating solar thermal power and three times more wind power in the world than in 2007. While the shares on a global level are still modest, growth rates are high and some countries already reach high shares too.

The host country Germany, one of the world's largest economies, now gets almost 25% of its power from renewables, up from 8% in 2002. By 2050 it aims to meet 80% of its electricity with renewables while phasing out nuclear.

China has doubled its cumulative wind capacity each year between 2006 and 2011, and in 2012 China's wind power generation already increased more than generation from coal. In India, where the coal industry is choking under inefficiency, corruption and environmental concerns, solar energy was almost zero just three years ago but now it's booming and becoming economically more attractive for investors.

Most importantly, the costs of renewable energy have come down, making it the most economical solution for new capacity in a growing number of countries. Investment banking giant Citigroup now hails the beginning "age of renewables", saying that solar and wind energy are increasingly competitive with coal, gas and nuclear in the U.S. – the world's biggest electricity market.

The International Energy Agency now says that any country can reach high shares of wind and solar power cost-effectively. But system choice is needed, because in the long run trying to please the old players (coal, gas and nuclear industries) while building a new system that operates differently is not going to work. As a result, the old players with old business models are fighting back.

The choice between the new and the old system shouldn't be difficult. While renewables are proving that they can deliver, the old system is proving that it can't. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Fukushima nuclear accident and the apocalyptic air pollution problem in China are all accelerating transition to cleaner and safer energy. Carbon capture and storage (CCS), that was to buy time for the fossil fuel industry, is failing to meet expectations.

I expect the IPCC report to reflect these recent changes in the energy system, as it outlines the scale of change needed in this and other sectors.

What the IPCC Working Group 1 report already outlined is that eventually, it's not enough to cut fossil fuel pollution. We need to get these emissions to zero. And it can be done. Many cities, regions and institutions around the world have already set or even achieved targets on 100% renewables on power or total energy. Global companies like IKEA, Google, Apple, Facebook, Salesforce and Walmart have committed to 100 % renewable power. Denmark, who will host this year’s last IPCC report approval in October, is committed to producing 100% of its heat and power with renewable energy by 2035 and all its energy by 2050.

So here's an idea for governments who in the UN are stuck in endless fights about "burden sharing": open your eyes and face the reality. Climate action is no longer a burden, when it means investments into clean and smart energy. Instead of fighting over who gets to emit still what in 2050, how about agreeing, in the Paris treaty next year, that by mid century, there are no "emission rights" to be shared for anyone. By setting a long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuels and going for 100% renewable energy for all by mid century, governments could provide an inspiring, unifying goal for the whole of humanity, and turn the negative vibes around the UN into something positive.

We have the technology, money and intelligence to replace our hazardous energy system with clean and safe energy, in time to prevent catastrophic climate change. So let's just get on with it.

P.S. Ms. Merkel and other EU leaders, for you it means agreeing on that binding 45% renewable energy target for 2030 in June.

Kaisa Kosonen, Greenpeace Senior Political Advisor, Climate & Energy


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Anadarko Petroleum settles U.S.-wide clean-up case for $5.15 billion

(Reuters) - Energy company Anadarko Petroleum Corp agreed on Thursday to pay more than $5 billion to clean up areas across the United States polluted by nuclear fuel, wood creosote and rocket fuel waste that caused cancer and other health problems.







Read more [Reuters]

Anadarko Petroleum settles U.S.-wide clean-up case for $5.15 billion

(Reuters) - Energy company Anadarko Petroleum Corp agreed on Thursday to pay more than $5 billion to clean up areas across the United States polluted by nuclear fuel, wood creosote and rocket fuel waste that caused cancer and other health problems.







Read more [Reuters]

Anadarko Petroleum settles pollution clean-up claims for $5.15 billion

Reuters: Energy company Anadarko Petroleum Corp agreed on Thursday to pay more than $5 billion to clean up areas across the United States polluted by nuclear fuel, wood creosote and rocket fuel waste that caused cancer and other health problems. The agreement resolves a long-running lawsuit against the Kerr-McGee energy and chemical company, which Anadarko bought in 2006. The case was brought by a trust representing the U.S. government, 11 state governments, Indian tribes and individuals. The trust...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Inspectors re-enter New Mexico nuclear waste site after leak

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - Inspectors ventured into an underground nuclear waste disposal vault in New Mexico on Wednesday to begin an on-site investigation of a radiation leak nearly seven weeks ago that exposed 21 workers and forced a shutdown of the facility.







Read more [Reuters]

Teams set to inspect New Mexico nuclear waste site after leak

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - Inspection teams were set to venture into an underground nuclear waste disposal vault in New Mexico on Wednesday to look for the source of a radiation leak nearly seven weeks ago that exposed 21 workers and forced a shutdown of the facility.

Read more [Reuters]

Teams set to inspect New Mexico nuclear waste site after leak

Reuters: Inspection teams were set to venture into an underground nuclear waste disposal vault in New Mexico on Wednesday to look for the source of a radiation leak nearly seven weeks ago that exposed 21 workers and forced a shutdown of the facility. The planned inspection would mark the first time since the mishap that workers have been sent deep into the salt caverns of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, where drums of plutonium-tainted refuse from nuclear weapons factories and laboratories are buried....
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Fukushima meltdown not seen causing many cancers: UN scientists

VIENNA (Reuters) - Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster is unlikely to lead to a rise in the number of people developing cancer like after Chernobyl in 1986, even though the most exposed children may face an increased risk, U.N. scientists said on Wednesday.







Read more [Reuters]

Another Japan nuclear operator turns to government for aid

TOKYO (Reuters) - Kyushu Electric Power Co has become Japan's second nuclear generator to seek state support this week as reactors across the country remain idled and industry losses stack up three years after the Fukushima disaster.

Read more [Reuters]

Japan offers us hope in the face of more bad news from the IPCC

The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released this week makes for grim reading. The attitudes and behaviour of humanity is going to have to change and quickly if we are to save ourselves and the planet from catastrophic climate change.

Hope remains, however. Take a look at out new briefing, Japan: clean energy growth offers choice and hope, for instance…

For the past six months, up to March 2014, Japan has met its energy needs without reliance on nuclear power, which until the Fukushima disaster was a significant provider of the country’s power needs. Energy savings and a rapid expansion of clean, renewable energy are the way of the future. Major corporations, municipalities and communities have begun to move in this direction, but the Abe administration risks squandering the opportunity and returning Japan to the Dark Ages of nuclear risk.

It's an outlook that offers choice and hope not just to Japan but to all of us.

Japan's fleet of nuclear reactors have been almost entirely out of action since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. During the last six months, Japan has seen neither blackouts not brownouts. Life continues as normal.

This has been achieved by energy efficiency and an increased use of natural gas along with some oil and coal.

Yes, Japan has suffered a rise in carbon dioxide emissions but this has been very small and surprising considering Japan is getting by without 54 nuclear reactors, the third largest fleet of reactors in the world.

In 2009 and 2010, the annual growth of Japan's carbon dioxide emissions was 7 percent. Between 2010 and 2012, including time when the country's nuclear reactors were offline, the growth was 8 percent. All rises in greenhouse gas emissions are bad but that's an amazing achievement.

So why is Japan's President Abe so adamant that he wants to restart Japan's idle nuclear reactors? The people of Japan are already proving themselves the most talented society on Earth at energy efficiency. On top of that, the future of renewable energy in the country is bright and exciting.

As an aside, an analysis by Reuters finds that Mr Abe faces an uphill struggle getting many of Japan's reactors back into operation. Of the 48 that could be restarted, only 14 are "likely" to do so. The rest face opposition from local residents and serious safety concerns.

Since July 2012, Japan has added total of 6,800 MW of new solar power to the national grid. Another 20,000MW is already approved and in the pipeline. To put that in perspective, in 2013, only 4,000 MW of new nuclear reactors was installed in the entire world.

What about baseload power, some are you are no doubt asking. The thing is, it's a concept that is rapidly showing itself unfit for purpose. Take a look at this example, again from Japan...

So, the “nuclear will be an important base load” argument assumes: 1. Older plants can be run until they are 60 years without major problems and at a lower cost than other sources; 2. Within the next, say, 16 years, new storage facilities for spent fuel will be built somewhere; and 3. By 2040, a country with 16 percent less people than in 2010 and one-fifth the population over 75 will not use less energy than today.

Even the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently concluded that it's time to say goodbye to the "baseload" paradigm and move on to flexible, renewable energy systems.

Nuclear energy simply isn't flexible enough to change with the times and President Abe, with his push to reopen reactors, risks being left behind with it. Since 2012, companies such as Softbank, Goldman Sachs Group, Equis Fund Group, Mitsui, Kyocera, Toshiba, Marubeni, and Suzuki Motor Corporation have all got into the renewable energy business. This is the "smart" money.

Not only that, the people of Japan are getting in on the renewables action as well. Since July 2012, 400,000 small-scale solar energy projects have been installed across Japan. It gives a view of how distributed power generation works and puts another nail in the coffins of baseload and nuclear power.

Energy efficiency, solar power, people power. The Japanese people's response to the Fukushima disaster has been little short of heroic. They're showing the world how a brighter future away from nuclear and fossil fuels is possible. Why won’t their Prime Minister listen to them?

Yes, climate change is scary but, as my colleague Kaisa says here, we can choose a better future.

(Image: Greenpeace activists display the message reading: "Climate SOS and Go Renewables" outside the Isogo coal power plant and the Minami-Yokohama gas power plant on 24 March 2014 near where the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were meeting. Highlighting the cause of climate change and the solution to the unfolding crisis, Greenpeace urged for a rapid shift away from fossil fuels and an accelerated clean energy revolution. © Jeremie Souteyrat / Greenpeace)


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Another Japan nuclear operator turns to government for aid

Reuters: Japan's Kyushu Electric Power Co has become the second nuclear generator to seek state support this week as reactors across the country remain idled and industry losses mount three years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Kyushu Electric, a regional monopoly that supplies power in southern Japan, said on Wednesday it was in talks with state-owned Development Bank of Japan for financial backing. On Tuesday, a source said Hokkaido Electric Power Co, which supplies Japan's northernmost island,...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Japan allows people to return to Fukushima disaster 'hot zone'

TAMURA, Japan (Reuters) - For the first time since Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster more than three years ago, residents of a small district 20 km (12 miles) from the wrecked plant are about to be allowed to return home.







Read more [Reuters]

Japan allows people to return to Fukushima disaster 'hot zone'

Reuters: For the first time since Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster more than three years ago, residents of a small district 20 km (12 miles) from the wrecked plant are about to be allowed to return home. The Miyakoji area of Tamura, a northeastern city inland from the Fukushima nuclear station, has been off-limits for most residents since March 2011, when the government ordered evacuations after a devastating earthquake and tsunami triggered a triple meltdown at the power plant. Tuesday's reopening...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Climate science scares me too, but we can choose a better future

I had a birthday on Saturday, but there was no time to celebrate. Instead, I was busy monitoring intensive discussions on climate change in Yokohama, Japan, where climate scientists from around the world were finalising their latest assessment report together with government officials whose role it is to make sure they understand what they're told about the impacts of climate change.

My job is to help spread the word. So while my friends were sending me birthday wishes and hearts on Facebook, I shared a link to our opinion piece on how climate change might fuel conflicts after it was published on Al Jazeera. Sorry guys, but there's just never a convenient time for this story.

That's a key issue reporters, observers and scientists have been trying to answer this week in the corridors of the IPCC meeting. How do you to tell a story that many people don't want to hear even though it's the defining story of our time? The inconvenient truth, as Al Gore once put it.

Burning oil, coal and gas for energy is turning our planet into a hostile place to live, threatening its beauty and the ecosystems we depend on. Our fingerprints can be detected everywhere: species are reacting to a changing environment, glaciers are melting at a stunning pace and worsening weather extremes around the world are revealing our glaring vulnerability.

The real problem is that this is just the beginning. It's going to get a lot worse, as the IPCC has just warned, if we continue to ignore reality.

So why don't we listen? And why do some people refuse to accept the facts, when the scientific consensus on climate change couldn’t be stronger?

I can associate with those feelings. I understand that climate change is so mind-boggling, that it sounds like it can't be true.

The thought that we could cause the world temperature to change as much in one generation than it did since the last ice age is difficult to fathom. That we might wipe out massive amount of species and dry up our forest areas is frightening. The possibility that we could set in motion irreversible melting of massive ice sheets is almost too enormous to contemplate.

This is the reality we face and although the scale of the challenge somehow doesn't make sense, not accepting the facts doesn't make them go away.

For many people around the world, climate change is no longer a theory. It has destroyed homes, lives and dreams. Some have tragically had their loved ones washed away by storm surges, like my colleague Amalie.

People living with climate reality are not interested in academic debates on whether a single extreme weather event can be attributed to human-made climate change. It's the clear long-term trend that matters.

People often like things to stay the same. I do too. I don't want my grandparents' humble summerhouse next to a beautiful lake to ever change.

But if we want to maintain the wonders of our planet, including those I enjoy at the summerhouse, we have to change. Otherwise global warming will usher in a drastic global change and it won't be pretty.

So where's the hope? Positive change is already taking place, accelerated by people who are fed up with the old polluting energy system. Since the last IPCC report in 2007, renewable energy has made a breakthrough. It's bigger, it's cheaper and most importantly, it's ready to challenge the old system.

The hazards of coal, oil and nuclear are also more apparent, from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to Fukushima and the apocalyptic air pollution problem caused by coal burning in China. This has sparked an accelerated transition to clean and safe energy.

That's where the hope lies: Climate solutions are attractive on their own, even for those who don't want to hear the climate message. To be part of the change, you don't need to wait for leaders to act. You can be the leader.

So let's understand the urgency, but not be paralysed by it. There's a better future out there than the one we're facing and it's ours if we want to grasp it.

Read more:

Greenpeace briefing on IPCC key findings

Greenpeace blueprint for clean energy future: http://greenpeace.org/energyrevolution

Kaisa Kosonen is a Senior political advisor for Greenpeace International.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Japan's new CO2 goal dismays U.N. climate conference

Reuters: China, the EU and environmentalists criticized Japan at U.N. climate talks on Nov. 15 for slashing its greenhouse gas emissions target after its nuclear power industry was shuttered by the Fukushima disaster. The Japanese government on Nov. 15 decided to target a 3.8 percent emissions cut by 2020 versus 2005 levels. That amounts to a 3 percent rise from a U.N. benchmark year of 1990 and the reversal of the previous target of a 25 percent reduction. "Given that none of the nuclear reactors is operating,...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

The following articles are automatically syndicated feeds from other sites.
 

XML feed