Japan Set to Restart First Nuclear Reactor Since Industry Shut-Down After Fukushima Disaster

Japan is due to switch on a nuclear reactor for the first time in nearly two years on Tuesday, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to reassure a nervous public that tougher standards mean the sector is

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.reuters.com

>” […] Abe and much of Japanese industry want reactors to be restarted to cut fuel imports, but opinion polls show a majority of the public oppose the move after the nuclear crisis triggered by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

In the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years earlier, the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant caused a release of radioactive material and forced 160,000 from their homes, with many never to return.

The crisis transfixed the world as the government and the Fukushima operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), fumbled their response and took two months to confirm that the reactors had undergone meltdowns.

Kyushu Electric Power said it aimed to restart its No. 1 reactor at its Sendai plant at 0130 GMT on Tuesday (2130 ET on Monday).

The plant on the west coast of Kyushu island is the furthest away of Japan’s reactors from Tokyo, where protesters regularly gather outside Abe’s official residence to oppose atomic energy.

At nearly 1,000 km (600 miles) from the capital, Sendai is closer to Shanghai or Seoul.

A successful restart would mark the culmination of a process whereby reactors had to be relicensed, refitted and vetted under tougher standards that were introduced following the disaster.

While two reactors were allowed to restart for one fuelling cycle in 2012, the whole sector has been shut down since September 2013, forcing Japan to import record amounts of expensive liquefied natural gas.

As well as cutting energy costs, showing it can reboot the industry safely is crucial for Abe’s plans to export nuclear technology, said Malcolm Grimston, a senior research fellow at Imperial College in London.

“Japan also has to rehabilitate itself with the rest of the world’s nuclear industry,” said Grimston.

At the Sendai plant, Kyushu Electric expects to have power supply flowing within a few days if all goes to plan. It aims to start the station’s No. 2 unit in October.

The head of Japan’s atomic watchdog said that the new safety regime meant a repeat of the Fukushima disaster would not happen, but protesters outside the Sendai plant are not convinced.

“You will need to change where you evacuate to depending on the direction of the wind. The current evacuation plan is nonsense,” said Shouhei Nomura, a 79-year-old former worker at a nuclear plant equipment maker, who now opposes atomic energy and is living in a protest camp near the plant.

Of Japan’s 25 reactors at 15 plants for which operators have applied for permission to restart, only five at three plants have been cleared for restart. […]”<

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Cover-up: Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown a Time Bomb Which Cannot be Defused

epa02660905 A handout picture provided by Air Photo Service on 30 March 2011 shows an aerial photo taken by a small unmanned drone of the damaged units of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma, Futaba district, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 24 March 2011. TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata announced on 30 March it will be more than a few weeks to fix the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. EPA/AIR PHOTO SERVICE / HO EDITORIAL USE ONLY +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Four years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster which has caused incredible an ongoing destruction, in the meantime authorities have tried to cover up the serious consequences…

Image source: http://www.theasiasun.com/

Sourced through Scoop.it from: oilprice.com

>” […] Fukushima will likely go down in history as the biggest cover-up of the 21st Century. Governments and corporations are not leveling with citizens about the risks and dangers; similarly, truth itself, as an ethical standard, is at risk of going to shambles as the glue that holds together the trust and belief in society’s institutions. Ultimately, this is an example of how societies fail.

Tens of thousands of Fukushima residents remain in temporary housing more than four years after the horrific disaster of March 2011. Some areas on the outskirts of Fukushima have officially reopened to former residents, but many of those former residents are reluctant to return home because of widespread distrust of government claims that it is okay and safe. […]

According to Japan Times as of March 11, 2015: “There have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year, and we need to face the reality that they are causing anxiety and anger among people in Fukushima, as explained by Shunichi Tanaka at the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Furthermore, Mr. Tanaka said, there are numerous risks that could cause various accidents and problems.”

Even more ominously, Seiichi Mizuno, a former member of Japan’s House of Councillors (Upper House of Parliament, 1995-2001) in March 2015 said: “The biggest problem is the melt-through of reactor cores… We have groundwater contamination… The idea that the contaminated water is somehow blocked in the harbor is especially absurd. It is leaking directly into the ocean. There’s evidence of more than 40 known hotspot areas where extremely contaminated water is flowing directly into the ocean… We face huge problems with no prospect of solution.”

At Fukushima, each reactor required one million gallons of water per minute for cooling, but when the tsunami hit, the backup diesel generators were drowned. Units 1, 2, and 3 had meltdowns within days. There were four hydrogen explosions. Thereafter, the melting cores burrowed into the container vessels, maybe into the earth. […]

Following the meltdown, the Japanese government did not inform people of the ambient levels of radiation that blew back onto the island. Unfortunately and mistakenly, people fled away from the reactors to the highest radiation levels on the island at the time.

As the disaster happened, enormous levels of radiation hit Tokyo. The highest radiation detected in the Tokyo Metro area was in Saitama with cesium radiation levels detected at 919,000 becquerel (Bq) per square meter, a level almost twice as high as Chernobyl’s “permanent dead zone evacuation limit of 500,000 Bq” (source: Radiation Defense Project). For that reason, Dr. Caldicott strongly advises against travel to Japan and recommends avoiding Japanese food.

Even so, post the Fukushima disaster, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an agreement with Japan that the U.S. would continue importing Japanese foodstuff. Therefore, Dr. Caldicott suggests people not vote for Hillary Clinton. One reckless dangerous precedent is enough for her. […]

Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press (AP), June 12, 2015: “Four years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the road ahead remains riddled with unknowns… Experts have yet to pinpoint the exact location of the melted fuel inside the three reactors and study it, and still need to develop robots capable of working safely in such highly radioactive conditions. And then there’s the question of what to do with the waste… serious doubts about whether the cleanup can be completed within 40 years.” […]

According to the Smithsonian, April 30, 2015: “Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima: Bird species are in sharp decline, and it is getting worse over time… Where it’s much, much hotter, it’s dead silent. You’ll see one or two birds if you’re lucky.” Developmental abnormalities of birds include cataracts, tumors, and asymmetries. Birds are spotted with strange white patches on their feathers.

Maya Moore, a former NHK news anchor, authored a book about the disaster:The Rose Garden of Fukushima (Tankobon, 2014), about the roses of Mr. Katsuhide Okada. Today, the garden has perished: “It’s just poisoned wasteland. The last time Mr. Okada actually went back there, he found baby crows that could not fly, that were blind. Mutations have begun with animals, with birds.” […] “<

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Are Virtual Power Plants the Next Generation in Electrical Utilities?

Germany’s energy giants are lumbering behind the rapid advance of renewable energy. They might stay afloat for a while, but they don’t seem flexible enough to achieve a turnaround, says DW’s Henrik Böhme.

Source: www.dw.de

>” […]  Decentralization is the buzzword. And the power required elsewhere, say, for street lights, electric motors, or the bakery nearby will be largely generated through renewables. Even large industrial compounds will be in a position to generate enough electricity for their own needs.

Nuclear power stations will all have been switched off by then, with only a few coal-fired or gas-fired plants still in operation. One way or another, Germany’s power landscape is bound to undergo dramatic changes.

That’s been obvious for a couple of years now. But the German utilities’ age-old business models don’t seem to be working anymore. All they know is big and heavy – they’re used to nuclear and coal power stations guaranteeing billions in profit, year-in year-out, and they seemed to secure their earnings without any trouble. And then they grew fat and began making mistakes.  […]

Then came the Fukushima nuclear disaster four years ago, leading to the German government’s decision to phase out nuclear energy completely by 2022. That dealt a severe blow to Eon, RWE and co. which hadn’t really understood the thrust of the country’s energy transition anyway.

The utilities in question are now frantically trying to rescue what they still can. They’re cutting away some of the fat. Costs are being cut, employees are being laid off and selected divisions are being jettisoned. The companies have rediscovered private clients by offering them networking technology.

But people don’t trust those giant, de facto monopolist firms anymore. Younger companies can do the same just as well, and often far more efficiently. Take “Next Kraftwerke”, a Cologne-based start-up. They run a virtual power station where power is collected from many smaller facilities and redistributed in the process. This is pretty close to what a future energy supply system will look like.

According to Silicon Valley researcher Peter Diamandis, 40 percent of the world’s current biggest companies will have ceased to play an important role some 10 years from now. On current performance, among those to fall will most likely be Eon, RWE and others.”<

 

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Critical lack of long-term radioactive waste storage as Japan finalizes energy policy

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The United States’ top nuclear regulator said Friday that atomic energy users, including Japan, must figure out how to ultimately store radioactive waste.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Japan has no final waste repository, not even a potential site. The U.S. government’s plan for building a repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada has been halted by strong local opposition due to safety concerns.

“In the nuclear community, we of course have to face the reality of the end product — spent fuel,” Macfarlane told reporters.

She urged countries that are contemplating or embarking on a nuclear power program to formulate back-end plans at an early stage.

The new policy under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear government is pushing to restart as many reactors as possible if deemed safe under the new, stricter safety standards that took effect this past summer. The new policy, whose draft was discussed Friday by a government panel, is also expected to stick to Japan’s shaky fuel cycle program despite international concerns about the country’s massive plutonium stockpile.

Japan is stuck with 44 tons of plutonium at home and overseas after unsuccessfully pushing to establish a fuel cycle, with its fast breeder reactor and a reprocessing plant never fully operated. Experts say Japan’s plutonium stockpile poses a nuclear security threat and raises questions over whether Japan plans to develop a nuclear weapon, which Tokyo denies.

Japan also has more than 14,000 tons of spent fuel in cooling pools at its 50 reactors, all of which are offline. Some pools are expected to be full in several years, and are expected to be moved to a dry cask facility just completed in northern Japan.<

See on www.ctvnews.ca

Supercritical CO2 refines cogeneration for Industry

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

The first production unit of the EPS100 7.5 MWe heat engine is completing factory checkout tests at Dresser-Randbtd…

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Energy-intensive manufacturing

In an increasingly competitive environment, manufacturers are seeking to cut their costs. Fluctuating energy prices often channel this investment into cost-effective energy-saving technologies and practices that will reduce operating costs while maintaining or increasing product quality and yield.

Energy-efficient technologies often bring other benefits, such as higher productivity or environmental gains, reducing the regulatory ‘burden’. Waste heat can be captured from many industrial processes through waste heat recovery technology. […]

Waste heat recovery represents the greatest opportunity for reducing energy loss in these industries while simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint and associated greenhouse emissions with improved overall energy production efficiency.[…]

The outlook for scCO2

Supercritical CO2 heat engines are scalable across a broad system size range, from 250 kWe to 45 MWe and above, with net electrical output to support the widest possible variety of industrial and utility-scale applications.

The sCO2 Cycle is thermal source neutral − suitable with a wide range of heat sources from 200°C to 500°C with efficiencies up to 30%. New energy production can be offset with recovered energy without increasing greenhouse emissions while improving overall energy production efficiency. The scCO2 heat engine can add up to 35% more power to simple-cycle gas turbines, 10–15% more power to reciprocating engines, and can significantly improve the energy efficiency and bottom line performance at steel mills, cement kilns, glass furnaces and other fuel-fired industrial processes by converting previously wasted exhaust and flue gas energy into usable electricity.

Alex Kacludis is an Application Engineer at EPS LLC; www.echogen.com

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Supercritical CO2 turbine for Power Production & Waste Heat Energy Recovery

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Design – Architecture & Engineering

A former scientist at Sandia National Lab is bringing the technology to market

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Because of its physical properties as a liquid, it has become a target fluid of opportunity to run turbines and thus make electricity. Steven Wright, Ph.D., who recently retired from Sandia National Laboratory (SNL), has set up a consulting company called Critical Energy LLC to bring this technology to a commercial level.

The objective of using supercritical CO2 (S-CO2) in a Brayton-Cycle turbine is to make it much more efficient in the transfer of heat. Wright points out that a steam turbine is about 33% efficient, but that an S-CO2 turbine could be as high as 48% efficient, a significant increase.

A closed loop supercritical CO2 system has the density of a liquid, but many of the properties of a gas. A turbine running on it, “is basically a jet engine running on a hot liquid,” says Wright.

“There is a tremendous amount of scientific and industrial interest in S-CO2 for power generation. All heat sources are involved…<

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Waste Heat Recovery using Supercritical CO2 turbines to create Electrical Power

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Design – Architecture & Engineering

Working fluids with relatively low critical temperature and pressure can be compressed directly to their supercritical pressures and heated to their supercritical state before expansion so as to obtain a better thermal match with the heat source.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Chen et al. [1-3] did a comparative study of the carbon dioxide supercritical power cycle and compared it with an organic Rankine cycle using R123 as the working fluid in a waste heat recovery application. It shows that a CO2 supercritical power cycle has higher system efficiency than an ORC when taking into account the behavior of the heat transfer between the heat source and the working fluid. The CO2 cycle shows no pinch limitation in the heat exchanger. Zhang et al.  [4-11] has also conducted research on the supercritical CO2 power cycle. Experiments revealed that the CO2 can be heated up to 187℃ and the power generation efficiency was 8.78% to 9.45% [7] and the COP for the overall outputs from the cycle was 0.548 and 0.406, respectively, on a typical summer and winter day in Japan [5].

Organic fluids like isobutene, propane, propylene, difluoromethane and R-245fa [12] have also been suggested for supercritical Rankine cycle. It was found that supercritical fluids can maximize the efficiency of the system. However, detailed studies on the use of organic working fluids in supercritical Rankine cycles have not been widely published.

There is no supercritical Rankine cycle in operation up to now. However, it is becoming a new direction due to its advantages in thermal efficiency and simplicity in configuration.<

See on www.eng.usf.edu

U.S. Nuclear Power Closures Signal Wider Problems for Industry

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A string of plant closures, project cancellations and other setbacks has raised new doubts about the future of nuclear power in the United States, but there’s disagreement about whether the retrenchment will be limited and temporary or the…

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>The blows to nuclear power’s prospects have come on many fronts, but it was the surprising spurt of plant closures that laid bare the industry’s worsening plight. The plant shutdowns are the first to hit the U.S. nuclear power market in 15 years, and the retirements don’t bode well for many of the nation’s 99 remaining power reactors.

Analysts say economic woes make at least 10 other plants vulnerable enough to follow suit. Almost all of those are among the nation’s 47 “merchant” nuclear plants, which, unlike regulated plants, operate in open markets and have to beat out other power suppliers to win customers and long-term supply contracts. The especially vulnerable facilities cited by analysts are at greater risk for closure because their power is too expensive to sell profitably in wholesale markets or because their output is too small or too unreliable to support rising operating and retrofit costs.<

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Japan to Switch Off Nuclear Power, With No Firm Date for Re-Start: Sci Am

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Japan is set to be nuclear power-free, for just the third time in more than four decades, and with no firm date for re-starting an energy source that has provided about 30 percent of electricity to the world’s third-largest economy.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Kansai Electric Power Co’s 1,180 MW Ohi No.4 reactor is scheduled to be disconnected from the power grid late on Sunday and then shut for planned maintenance. It is the only one of Japan’s 50 reactors in operation after the nuclear industry came to a virtual halt following the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Japan last went without nuclear power in May-June 2012 – the first shutdown since 1970 – a year after a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks at the Fukushima facility. The country’s nuclear reactors provided close to a third of the electricity to keep the $5 trillion economy going before the Fukushima disaster, and utilities have had to spend billions of dollars importing oil, gas and coal to make up for the shortfall. […]

 

IMPORT BILL

Japan consumes about a third of the world’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) production, and will likely boost LNG demand to record levels over the next couple of years. LNG imports rose 4.4 percent in volume to a record 86.87 million tonnes, and 14.9 percent in value to a record 6.21 trillion yen ($62.1 billion) in the year through March.

Imports are likely to rise to around 88 million tonnes this year and around 90 million tonnes in the year to March 2015, according to projections by the Institute of Energy Economics Japan based on a mid-scenario that 16 reactors will be back on-line by March 2015.<

See on www.scientificamerican.com

U.S. Nuclear Power waning: A history of Failures

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By J. Matthew RoneyNuclear power generation in the United States is falling. After increasing rapidly since the 1970s, electricity generation at U.S. nuclear plants began to grow more slowly in the…

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Of the 253 reactors that were ordered by 1978, 121 were canceled either before or during construction, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ David Lochbaum. Nearly half of these were dropped by 1978. The reactors that were completed—the last of which came online in 1996—were over budget three-fold on average.

By the late 1990s, 28 reactors had permanently closed before their 40-year operating licenses expired. […]

In 2012, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved four new reactors for construction, two each at the Vogtle plant in Georgia and the Summer plant in South Carolina. These reactors are all of the same commercially untested design, purportedly quicker to build than previous plants. Both projects benefit from fairly new state laws that shift the economic risk to ratepayers. These “advanced cost recovery” laws, also passed in Florida and North Carolina, allow utilities to raise their customers’ rates to pay for new nuclear plants during and even before construction—regardless of whether the reactors are ever finished.

Construction at both sites began in March 2013. Even as the first concrete was poured at the $14-billion Vogtle project, it was reportedly 19 months behind schedule and more than $1 billion over budget. The Summer project, a $10 billion endeavor, also quickly ran into problems. […] With these delays, the earliest projected completion date for any of these reactors is some time in late 2017. […]

This year has also already witnessed the permanent shutdown of four reactors totaling 3.6 gigawatts of capacity. The first to fall was Duke’s Crystal River reactor in Florida. Although the plant was licensed to run until 2016, Duke decided to close it rather than pay for needed repairs. Then Dominion Energy’s 39-year-old Kewaunee reactor in Wisconsin closed, citing competition from low gas prices. It had recently been approved to operate through 2033. And in June, Southern California Edison shuttered its two San Onofre reactors after 18 months of being offline due to a leak in a brand new steam generator. These retirements leave the United States with 100 reactors, averaging 32 years in operation. (France is second, with 58 reactors.)

More closures will soon follow, particularly among the roughly half of U.S. reactors in so-called merchant areas […]

Dealing with nuclear waste is another expensive proposition. Over the past 30 years, the U.S. government has spent some $15 billion trying to approve a central repository for nuclear waste, and for most of that time the only site under consideration has been Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. Amid concerns about the site’s safety and its extreme unpopularity in Nevada, the Obama administration has moved to abandon the project entirely and explore other options.

A federal appeals court ruled in August 2013 that the NRC must resume reviewing the site’s suitability. In the meantime, the waste keeps accumulating. The 75,000 tons of waste now stored at 80 temporary sites in 35 states is projected to double by 2055. […]

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