Posts Tagged coal

For A Million BTU: Monday 4 June 2012 |

Update: Check out this graph from Seth Godin’s blog: it compares fatalities in the nuclear and coal industries. (Thanks to Mike Rogers for the link).

A week ago, I posted about Japanese shut-down nuclear reactors and how this had resulted in a big jump in purchases of natural gas and coal.

I had believed that the costs of importing coal and natural gas were higher than the costs of running the nuclear power plants, and that this was an unsustainable policy in the long run.

However, today, I was alerted to the falling prices of LNG and coal:

For A Million BTU: Monday 4 June 2012 |


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2011/09/02 02:00 – Tepco, Tohoku Elec To Revive Idle Fossil-Fuel Plants

Tepco and Tohoku Power companies are re-starting idled coal-fired power stations in Fukushima prefecture. There is no mention in this article of the costs or the possible effects on price. Nuclear is cheaper than coal, after all.

TOKYO Nikkei–Tokyo Electric Power Co. 9501, known as Tepco, and Tohoku Electric Power Co. 9506 plan to restart offline fossil-fuel power generators and boost their combined output capacity by 1.25 million kilowatts by the end of the year. Their jointly owned coal-fired power plant in Soma, Fukushima prefecture, has two generators, both of which have remained offline since the March 11 disaster.

… By next summer, the full 2 million kilowatts of capacity is expected to return …

At the two utilities’ jointly owned fossil-fuel plant in Nakoso, Fukushima Prefecture, one 250,000kw coal-fired generator is slated to resume operations by the end of the year after having remained idle due to the impact of the March calamity. And a oil-fired unit that has been suspended since before March will likely start generating power again next summer, adding 175,000kw.

… the government has ordered large-scale customers of Tepco and Tohoku Electric to reduce maximum power usage 15% this summer from a year earlier. By returning idled generators to service and seeking voluntary reductions in power usage, the two utilities are hoping to avoid implementing mandatory usage cuts this winter.

via 2011/09/02 02:00 – Tepco, Tohoku Elec To Revive Idle Fossil-Fuel Plants.

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Costs of switching nuclear off | Lenz Blog

Prof. Lenz has some interesting things to say about the Fukushima nuclear crisis. As there is so much hyperventilating blogging going on (anxiety and unease sell, and they are also somewhat addictive), I like to read alternative views. Here’s a selection:

New York Times has an excellent article about some of the damage to the climate and Japan’s economy expected from slowing down nuclear energy.

They estimate about 3 trillion yen per year in extra fossil fuel costs, which will place a burden on the balance of trade. And they report on a government estimate of about 210 million tons of CO2 emitted over 1990 records, a 16% increase, while Japan is supposed to reduce by 6% under the Kyoto protocol.

I learned that Japan was the world’s largest importer of coal to begin with.

via Costs of switching nuclear off | Lenz Blog.

SPIEGEL has published an interview on radiation damage from the Fukushima accident with Shunichi Yamashita, who has been working as an adviser to the Fukushima prefecture government and plans to be involved in the large follow-up studies coming up.

He is reasonably well informed about the lack of danger from low doses, but still says that he doesn’t know for sure about the absence of risk under 100 millisieverts dose. I don’t agree with his position, which I think is much too generous to the irrational fear crowd. As far as I am concerned, at the very least the 100 millisieverts per month proposed by Wade Allison should guide all related decisions.

One thing I have learned from this interview is that people relocated from Chernobyl saw their life expectancy reduced from 65 to 58 years. That is a massive health effect from the evacuation, and it is mostly caused by irrational fear, leading to symptoms as depression, alcoholism, and suicide.

This story should not repeat itself in Japan.

SPIEGEL interview with Shunichi Yamashita | Lenz Blog.

Mainichi reports on a couple of cases where Fukushima residents’ health was damaged by fear-induced stress. They say that Fukushima Medical University plans to study the problem in a systematic way and will publish results of a survey in autumn of this year.

Since no one has got radiation exceeding a reasonable limit of 100 millisieverts a month, all the health damage from the accident is expected from this kind of nocebo effect, and none whatsoever from radiation.

via Psychological stress | Lenz Blog.

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The Technium: Passing a Worst-Case Scenario Test

The present nuclear crisis at Fukushima is of course igniting debate about nuclear power. Predictably, there are the usual hysterical voices, mostly anti-nuclear. To make up one’s mind on this issue, one needs some facts, not hyperventilating emotion. You could do worse than start here:

Richard Rhodes one of the foremost experts on nuclear weapons, wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the effects of atom bomb and nuclear weapons, now in its fourth volume. He notes a curious effect of this re-evaluation of nuclear power:All Energy Disasters Lead to Coal, Which Is an Energy DisasterSimply looking at the loss of human life day to day, coal and oil are a disaster.As per this Swedish report on the health effects of power generation. When tallied as deaths per tera watts per hour deaths/TWh coal and oil dominate while nuclear is minimal:

Death watt

via The Technium: Passing a Worst-Case Scenario Test.

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