Categories
Disaster disruption Fukushima Daiichi radiation

Fukushima nuclear disaster: 5 years since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on 2011/3/11 at 14:46:24

5 years and many lessons learnt since the Tohoku and Fukushima disasters

Tohoku disaster and Fukushima nuclear disaster lead to Japan’s energy market liberalization

Tohoku disaster: On Friday March 11, 2011 at 14:46:24, the magnitude 9.0 “Great East Japan earthquake” caused a tsunami, reaching up to 40.4 meters high inland in Tohoku.

Japan’s National Police Agency registers 15,894 deaths and 2,562 missing people.

TEPCO’s Fukushima Dai-1 nuclear power plant vs Tohoku Electric Power Corporation’s Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant

One of the world’s worst nuclear disasters started at Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-1 Nuclear Power Plant.

The Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant, owned and operated by Tohoku Electric Power Company, and built under Yanosuke Hirai, was closest to the 2011/3/11 earthquake’s epicenter, and survived the quake without major damage and was successfully shut down, and served as a refuge for 300 people from the neighborhood who had lost their homes. There were radiation alarm signals at Onagawa Power Station, but these alarms were caused by radioactive fallout blown from Fukushima-Dai-Ichi by winds, and did not originate from Onagawa.

The Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant was the only nuclear power plant in the region of the Tohoku Earthquake that survived the earthquake without any major damage.

On Yanosuke Hirai’s insistence, Tohoku Electric Power Company built Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant at 13.8 meters above sea level, while during the construction of TEPCO’s Fukushima Dai-1 plant the natural ground elevation was reduced from 35 meters to 10 meters. The Tsunami reached 13 meters height in both locations.

In 1990 Tohoku Electric Power Company (Onagawa Nuclear Power Station Construction Office) published a detailed analysis of the Great Jogan Tsunami of AD 869

Yanosuke Hirai had researched the Great Jogan Tsunami of July 13, 869, which was caused by the 869 Sanriku Earthquake (貞観地震). The results were taken into account in planning the Onagawa Nuclear Power Station, and published in 1990:

Hisashi Abe, Toshisada Sugeno, Akira Chigama, (Onagawa Nuclear Power Station Construction Office)
“Estimation of the Height of the Sanriku Jogan 11 Earthquake-Tsunami (AD 869) in the Sendai Plain”
Zisin (Journal of the Seismological Society of Japan, 2nd Series), Vol. 43 (1990) No. 4 P 513-525

See also the “869 Sanriku earthquake” entry in Wikipedia.

Fukushima nuclear disaster mitigation. US sends 150 nuclear experts headed by Chuck Casto to work with the Japanese Prime Minister and top leaders for 11 months to help deal with the Fukushima disaster

The USA sent a team of about 150 nuclear experts for 11 months to Japan to assist TEPCO and the Japanese Government in mastering the nuclear crisis. This team was headed by Chuck Casto – read some of his conclusions here:

Japan’s first ever Parliamentary Commission

Japan’s Parliament for the first time ever created an Independent Parliamentary Commission to analyze the nuclear disaster, headed by Kiyoshi Kurokawa, read the summary of his talk “Groupthink can kill” here (including videos describing the Commissions results in simple easy to understand terms).

Three former TEPCO executives have now been indicted by a citizen’s prosecution committee.

Nuclear disaster leads to energy market liberalization in Japan

Japan’s faith in nuclear power was shaken, leading to development of renewable energy, liberalization and long overdue reforms of Japan’s energy sector.

Quakes and after-quakes

The figures show that more than 300 earthquakes of magnitude 5 or larger occurred since the major quake on March 11, 2011 at 14:46. The epicenters of quakes lie mostly where the Pacific Plate moves under the North American Plate on which Tohoku lies.

According to our knowledge earth quakes are mathematically speaking a “chaotic” phenomenon, and scientific arguments are, that it is difficult if not impossible to predict earth quakes with precision. (Figure: Wolfram Alpha LLC)

Earth quakes of magnitude 5 and greater in Japan (March-April 2011) (Figure: Wolfram Alpha LLC)
Earth quakes of magnitude 5 and greater in Japan (March-April 2011) (Figure: Wolfram Alpha LLC)
Earth quakes of magnitude 5 and greater in Japan (March-April 2011) on logarithmic magnitude scale (Figure: Wolfram Alpha LLC)
Earth quakes of magnitude 5 and greater in Japan (March-April 2011) on logarithmic magnitude scale (Figure: Wolfram Alpha LLC)

Nuclear fallout on Tokyo: radiation levels in Tokyo/Shinjuku

Starting with Tuesday 15 March 2011, radioactive fallout came down on Tokyo as shown in the figures below.

Radiation in Tokyo/Shinjuku (until April 13, 2011) compared to Austria
Radiation in Tokyo/Shinjuku (until April 13, 2011) compared to Austria

Radiation levels in Tokyo (Shinjuku and Shibuya) and Tsukuba:

Radiation in Tsukuba (until April 13, 2011) compared to Austria
Radiation in Tsukuba (until April 13, 2011) compared to Austria

The blue curve above shows the radiation levels in Tokyo/Shinjuku as measured and published by the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Public Health here:

  • each hour for the last 24 hours
  • daily starting March 1

The red curves show maximum and minimum data as measured by TEPCO in Tokyo-Shibuya, and published here: TEPCO radiation data

The green curves show radiation data measured by Japan’s highly respected AIST Laboratory in Tsukuba (Ibaraki-ken, about 60 km north of Tokyo in direction of Fukushima) and published here: AIST radiation data.

Radiation levels in Tsukuba

The green curves show radiation data measured by AIST Laboratory in Tsukuba (Ibaraki-ken, about 60 km north of Tokyo in direction of Fukushima) and published here: AIST radiation data.

The radiation measurement results in Tsukuba are considerably higher than found in Tokyo, but have decreased close to the top levels found naturally in Austria and in many other countries.

The differences in the data between Tokyo and Tsukuba could be because Tsukuba is 60km closer to Fukushima, could be caused by weather conditions, but they could also be caused by differences in the measurement equipment or a combination of these factors.

Eurotechnology-Japan newsletters in March/April 2011

In a series of newsletters, our company informed our customers, and friends about the nuclear disaster impact on Tokyo. Our newsletters were reposted by our readers to 100s of friends, and in some cases influenced the decisions by foreign subsidiaries here in Tokyo. In the days following the nuclear disaster, it was difficult for non-phycists to understand the true situation, and what the radioactive fallout really meant.

Copyright (c) 2016 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Electricity

Japan electricity sector disruption – new business models and deregulation overdue

Japan electricity regional operators’ income peaked about 10 years ago

Japanese electricity companies’ business models face massive disruption by technology innovation and the Fukushima nuclear accident

With the annual general shareholder meetings completed and financial results published, we have analyzed the financial results of Japan’s 10 regional electric power companies (plus several other Japanese electricity companies, including J-Power) in detail.

We find that each of Japan’s electrical power companies has its own particular circumstances, and some are coping better than others, while of course Tokyo Electric Power Company is a special case due to the incalculable costs of the Fukushima nuclear accident, and due to possible changes in case of a change of Japanese Government policy regarding TEPCO.

Our financial analysis shows, that revenues of Japan’s electricity sector have increased substantially, due to increased electricity costs. On the other hand, revenues of Japan’s electricity companies overall have been declining steadily since a peak around 2005, i.e. ten years ago.

Switching off nuclear power generation contributes to financial problems, but is clearly not the root cause

From our analysis it is obvious that the financial profitability issues of Japan’s electricity sector have started about 10 years ago, long before nuclear reactors were switched off due to the Fukushima accident – while of course the switch-off of nuclear power does contribute to a worsening of the financial situation in the last 3 years.

Clearly, the electricity deregulation which is now on track with regulatory and legal changes, was long overdue, and in my opinion is more due to the declining profitability of Japan’s electricity sector, than immediately triggered by the Fukushima accident. The financial data clearly show that a change of business model for Japan’s electricity sector is needed.

Japan electricity: Combined annual operating income of Japan's regional electric power companies
Operating income of Japan’s electricity sector has been falling continuously since the peak in 2005

Chugoku Electric Power Company as an example

Our analysis shows that each of Japan’s 10 regional electricity companies have different financial circumstances.

We discuss Chugoku Electric Power Company which serves the area around Nagoya in the middle of Japan as an example. The Figure below shows that Chugoku Electric Power Company’s income peaked around 2004-2005, about ten years ago, and since then has been continuously falling, with net income dropping into the red for the first time for Financial Year 2008 (ending March 31, 2009), about two years before the Fukushima nuclear disaster. An important point to consider is that only about 10% of the electricity generation capacity of Chugoku Electric Power Company is nuclear power, which is one of the lowest ratios of nuclear power in Japan. It follows logically, that switching off this 10% of nuclear generation capacity has a much lower impact than for other regional power companies, where the nuclear contribution was about 30%.

Japan electricity: income and margins of Chuo Electrical Power Company have been continuously falling since their peak around 2004
Japan electricity: income and margins of Chuo Electrical Power Company have been continuously falling since their peak around 2004

We conclude that the peak around 2004-2005 in profitability followed by a long decline in profitability indicates a deep rooted need for change of business models which was exacerbated but not directly caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident. Japan’s Government is now reacting to this fact by deregulating the electricity sector.

Japan electricity: Why do current business models need to change?

  • Japan’s regional electricity companies enjoyed monopoly power within their regions, where the electricity prices were regulated by Government, and in exchange electricity companies could enjoy a financial model where they could charge costs + profits to customers. There was no competition and little incentive to reduce costs
  • Japan will now follow the global trend from top-down electricity grids with large central generation facilities and a top-down distribution grid to more de-centralized, localized smart-grids, driven by technological progress, and the emergence of renewable energy.

Renewable energy Japan – research report

Japan’s energy sector – research report

Copyright 2014-2019 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Economics Japan's energy sector

Japan’s electricity and new energy policy

Stockholm School of Economics at the Embassy of Sweden in Tokyo (Alfred Nobel Lecture Theatre)

European Institute for Japanese Studies EIJS

Gerhard Fasol "Japan's electricity and new energy policy" Embassy of Sweden
Gerhard Fasol “Japan’s electricity and new energy policy” Embassy of Sweden

Announcement and summary on the website of Stockholm School of Economics.

This talk is based on data from our reports:

European Institute of Japanese Studies (EIJS) Academy Seminars

About the talk: Japan’s electricity architecture was put in place in 1952 and was not much changed until 2011. Electricity liberalization, introduction of smart meters and smart grids bring very large investments in Japan’s energy infrastructure, and are creating huge opportunities for Japanese and foreign companies in Japan’s energy sector. At the same time there is much uncertainty about Japan’s nuclear program -will Japan’s nuclear power plants restart? The talk will explain Japan’s energy architecture today and how we arrived at today’s situation and will give you some tools to understand possible scenarios for Japan’s energy and electricity future.
As an introduction, you may watch Gerhard’s interview for The Economist about Japan’s energy situation here

About the speaker: Gerhard came first to Japan in 1984 to help build what was NTT’s first international R&D cooperation and has worked with Japan ever since. Gerhard is founder and CEO of Eurotechnology Japan KK, where he has worked for 100s of US, EU and Japanese companies on M&A and business development, and he is independent Member of the Board of Directors
of the Japanese company GMO Cloud KK, a cloud services company with about 500 employees and traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Gerhard is also the creator and curator of the Ludwig Boltzmann Symposia on Energy, Entropy and Leadership. Gerhard graduated with a PhD in Physics from Cambridge University, Trinity College, was tenured faculty at Cambridge University in Semiconductor Physics, Associate Professor at Tokyo University’s Electrical Engineering Department, and the first foreigner to lead an elite Sakigake Research project of Japan’s Science and Technology Agency.

Date and place – Japan’s electricity and new energy policy

Date: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
Time: 6.30 p.m. – 7.00 p.m. Drink & Snack (served before lecture), 7.00 p.m. – 9.00 p.m. Lecture and Discussion
Place: Alfred Nobel Auditorium, Embassy of Sweden, 10-3-400 Roppongi 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032
Fee: JPY3,000 per person, payable at the door, Free for those who are from sponsoring companies, Free for students, please bring your student ID
Language: English
Registration required:Please sign up by June 13 (Fri.) via e-mail to eijsjap (at) gmail (dot) com for the attention of Ms. Futagawa (EIJS Tokyo office)
In cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden

Gerhard Fasol: Japan's electricity and new energy policy
Gerhard Fasol: Japan’s electricity and new energy policy

If you can’t attend the talk on June 18th, 2014 at the Embassy of Sweden, you can download our reports on Japan’s energy situation here:

Japan’s energy market – report:

Renewable energy Japan – research report

Copyright Eurotechnology Japan KK. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Japan's energy sector

Japan energy mix: Keeping the lights on in Japan – deregulation, new and renewable energy

Japan energy mix, smart grid, electricity deregulation – briefing by The Economist Corporate Network

Economist Corporate Network held a breakfast briefing today April 24, 2014 for about 50 Japan-CEOs and executives.

Shigeki (Sean) Miwa, General Manager of SoftBank’s CEO Office, and Representative Director & CEO of Bloom Energy Japan KK, and EVP of SB Energy Corporation

Mr Shigeki (Sean) Miwa, General Manager of SoftBank’s CEO Office, and Representative Director & CEO of Bloom Energy Japan KK, and EVP of SB Energy Corporation, explained SoftBank’s and Masayoshi Son’s reasons for entering the energy business, and he explained Bloom Energy’s offering of energy sources based on very efficient fuel cells in Japan.

Gerhard Fasol, CEO of Eurotechnology-Japan

Gerhard Fasol, CEO of Eurotechnology-Japan, gave an overview of Japan’s energy situation, and an outlook into the future. Here is an interview by The Economist after the breakfast briefing:

You can find detailed data and analysis in our report on Japan’s energy sector, and on Japan’s renewable energy sector.

Renewable energy Japan – research report

Japan energy market report:

Copyright 2014 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Japan's energy sector Leadership Ludwig Boltzmann Symposia

Ludwig Boltzmann – Energy, Entropy, Leadership by Gerhard Fasol (6th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium)

Ludwig Boltzmann as leader

(Gerhard Fasol, CEO of Eurotechnology Japan KK. Served as Associate Professor of Tokyo University, Lecturer at Cambridge University, and Manger of Hitachi Cambridge R&D Lab.)

Keynote presented at the 6th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium on February 20, 2014 at the Embassy of Austria in Tokyo.

Ludwig Boltzmann, the scientist

Ludwig Boltzmann’s greatest contribution to science is that he linked the macroscopic definition of Entropy which came from optimizing steam engines at the source of the first industrial revolution to the microscopic motion of atoms or molecules in gases, this achievement is summarized by the equation S = k log W, linking entropy S with the probability W. k is the Boltzmann constant, one of the most important constants in nature, linked directly to temperature in the SI system of physical units. This monumental work is maybe Boltzmann’s most important creation but by far not the only one. He discovered many laws, and created many mathematical tools, for example Boltzmann’s Equations, which are used today as tools for numerical simulations of gas flow for the construction of jet engines, airplanes, automobiles, in semiconductor physics, information technology and many other areas. Although independently discovered, Shannon’s theory of noise in communication networks, and Shannon’s entropy in IT is also directly related to Boltzmann’s entropy work.

Ludwig Boltzmann, the leader

Ludwig Boltzmann was not only a monumental scientist, but also an exceptional leader, teacher, educator and promoter of exceptional talent, and he promoted many women.

One of the women Ludwig Boltzmann promoted was Henriette von Aigentler, who was refused permission to unofficially audit lectures at Graz University. Ludwig Boltzmann advised and helped her to appeal this decision, in 1874, Henriette von Aigentler passed her exams as a high-school teacher, and on July 17, 1876, Ludwig Boltzmann married Henriette von Aigentler, my great-grand mother.

Another woman Ludwig Boltzmann promoted was his student Lise Meitner (Nov 1878 – Oct 27, 1968), who later was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, work for which Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize. Lise Meitner was also the second woman to earn a Doctorate degree in Physics from the University of Vienna. Element 109, Meitnerium, is named after Lise Meitner.

Nagaoka Hantaro, First President of the University of Osaka – Ludwig Boltzmann’s pupil

The first President of Osaka University (1931-1934), Nagaoka Hantaro (1865 – 1950) was Ludwig Boltzmann’s pupil around 1892 – 1893 at Muenchen University.

Ludwig Boltzmann, a leader of science

Ludwig Boltzmann was connected in intense discussions with all major scientists of his time, he travelled extensively including three trips to the USA in 1899, 1904 and 1905, about which he wrote the article “Die Reise eines deutschen Professors ins El Dorado”, published in the book “Populäre Schriften”.

Ludwig Boltzmann published his first scientific publication at the age of 21 years in 1865. He was appointed Full Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Graz in 1869 at the age of 25 years, later in 1887-1888 he was Rektor (President) of the University of Graz at the age of 43 years.

He spent periods of his professional work in Vienna, at Graz University (1869-1873 and 1876-1890), at Muenchen University (1890-1894). When working at Muenchen University, he discovered that neither he nor his family would not receive any pension from his employment at Muenchen University after an eventual retirement or in case he dies before retirement, and therefore decided to return to Vienna University in 1894, where he and his family were assured of an appropriate pension. During 1900-1902 he spent two years working in Leipzig, where he cooperated with the Nobel Prize winner Friedrich Wilhelm Ostwald.

Ludwig Boltzmann did not shy away from forceful arguments to argue for his thoughts and conclusions, even if his conclusions were opposite to the views of established colleagues, or when he felt that philosophers intruded into the field of physics, i.e. used methods of philosophy to attempt solving questions which needed to be solved with physics measurements, e.g. to determine whether our space is curved or not. Later in his life he was therefore also appointed to a parallel Chair in Philosophy of Science, and Ludwig Boltzmann’s work in Philosophy of Science is also very fundamentally important.

I discovered the unpublished manuscripts of Boltzmann’s lectures on the Philosophy of Science, stimulated and encouraged by myself, and with painstaking work my mother transcribed these and other unpublished manuscripts, and prepared them for publication, to make these works finally accessible to the world, many years after Ludwig Boltzmann’s death.

Ludwig Boltzmann was a down to earth man. He rejected the offer of Nobility by His Majesty, The Emperor of Austria, i.e. the privilege to be named Ludwig von Boltzmann (or a higher title) instead of commoner Ludwig Boltzmann. Ludwig Boltzmann said: “if our common name was good enough for my parents and ancestors, it will be good enough for my children and grand children…”

Summary: understanding Ludwig Boltzmann.

Boltzmann’s thoughts and ideas are a big part of our understanding of the world and the universe.

His mathematical tools are used every day by today’s engineers, bankers, IT people, physicists, chemists… and even may contribute to solve the world’s energy problems.

Ludwig Boltzmann stood up for his ideas and conclusions and did not give in to authority. He rejected authority for authority’s sake, and strongly pushed his convictions forward.

What can we learn from Ludwig Boltzmann?

  • empower young people, recognize and support talent early.
  • exceptional talent is not linear but exponential.
  • move around the world. Connect. Interact.
  • empower women.
  • don’t accept authority for authority’s sake.
  • science/physics/nature need to be treated with the methods of physics/science.
  • no dogmas.
  • support entrepreneurs, Ludwig Boltzmann did.
Gerhard Fasol
Gerhard Fasol

Copyright 2014 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Electricity Japan's energy sector Natural Gas, LNG Renewable energy

Japan energy – myths versus reality, mantra versus smart

A lecture a the Embassy of Sweden for the Stockholm School of Economics

European Institute for Japanese Studies EIJS

Gerhard Fasol "Japan energy - myths versus reality, mantra versus smart" Embassy of Sweden
Gerhard Fasol “Japan energy – myths versus reality, mantra versus smart” Embassy of Sweden

Outline of the lecture:

  • Energy and DNA
  • Energy and Physics, why you need to understand physics to understand energy
  • Ludwig Boltzmann’s tools and laws to work with energy
  • Myth versus reality, mantra versus smart – psychology of judgment and decision making
  • Parliamentary commission results: “regulatory capture” caused the Fukushima nuclear accident
  • History: Japan’s energy architecture frozen since 1952
  • Primary energy: 96% imported
  • Why Japan pays so much for LNG
  • Electricity architecture and liberalization
  • renewable energy
  • Future: where do we go from here?

Thank you to all those who attended the event “Japan’s energy – myths vs reality” at the Embassy of Sweden – an event organized by the European Institute for Japanese Studies of the Stockholm School of Economics.

We had about 120 registrations for 100 seats in the Alfred Nobel Auditorium of the Embassy of Sweden – participants included an official from Japan’s Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office, Officials from several Embassies including the Swedish, US, Norwegian, Swiss, Hungarian and more Embassy, executives from Japanese and European telecom and energy companies, including also several independent power producers (IPPs), legal professionals, and groups of students and MBA students from Tokyo University, Hitotsubashi University and others.

We had very vivid discussion, and continued the discussions over nijikai.

Detailed data, statistics and analysis of Japan’s energy markets:

All the data of the talk are from our reports on Japan’s energy sector:

Japan’s energy market report:

Renewable energy Japan – research report

Copyright 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Japan's energy sector Natural Gas, LNG

Japan gas imports: +77.5% from Jan ’11 to Jan ’13 – all-out efforts to reduce energy costs

Japan replaced almost all nuclear energy with liquid natural gas imports

Increased LNG import costs due to declining yen

Japan gas imports: Japan replaced almost all nuclear energy with liquid natural gas imports at very short notice. Japan pays far higher costs for liquid natural gas imports than most other regions in the world (find a detailed explanation why this is so, and how Japan’s LNG import prices are composed, in our J-Energy report). ‘Abenomics’ (Prime Minister Abe’s economy policy package) have increased the costs of imports further due a decline in the value of the yen.

Consequently, Japan makes all out efforts to find the optimal energy mix, in particular searching for domestic sources of energy including renewables, and reducing the cost of imports. More below.

Detailed energy import data, including detailed analysis why Japan’s LNG import costs are so much higher than elsewhere, in our report on Japan’s Energy Landscape.

Japan gas imports: 77.5% cost increase since January 2011

Reason for this increase are increased import quantities, the very high prices Japan is forced to pay for gas imports, and the decrease of the value of the YEN due to ‘Abenomics’. These very high costs drive all-out efforts to secure new sources of natural gas to reduce costs, and also drive the sofar neglected development of renewable energy sources in Japan.

Japan's gas import costs increased by 77.5% from Jan '11 to Jan '13
Japan’s gas import costs increased by 77.5% from Jan ’11 to Jan ’13. Source: https://www.eurotechnology.com/store/j_energy/

Primary energy imports are a very substantial part (about 7% currently) of Japan’s GNP, and have increased by 34% in January 2013 compared to January 2011

However, the figure above shows that current monthly costs of primary energy imports are below the peak just before the Lehman shock. Thus Japan’s primary energy costs are currently very substantial but not without precedent.
Detailed energy import data, including detailed analysis why Japan’s LNG import costs are so much higher than elsewhere, in our report on Japan’s Energy Landscape

Japan's primary energy import costs increased by 34% from Jan '11 to Jan '13
Japan’s primary energy import costs increased by 34% from Jan ’11 to Jan ’13. Source: https://www.eurotechnology.com/store/j_energy/

Descent into crisis of Japan’s electricity operators started in 2007:

Figure above clearly shows that the decent of Japan’s electricity operators started years before the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Therefore we conclude that restarting the nuclear reactors alone will not cure the crisis of Japan’s electricity operators, which for many years have enjoyed a monopoly position, and are now increasingly under attack by competitors including Japan’s very successful gas companies.
We added approx. 50 pages analysis of Japan’s gas sector to our Japan-Energy-Report.

Copyright 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Japan's electronics industry Japan's energy sector telecommunications

Japan trends for 2013 (New Year post)

Japan replaced nuclear electricity generation by LNG, by imported gas

Japan trends for 2013: Nuclear reactor restarts are on their way

Japan trends for 2013 Japan’s energy sector: Japan has essentially replaced the 30% of its electricity energy supply which was from nuclear power plants, by electricity produced in aging thermal power plants from urgently arranged LNG purchases at very high prices. Prime Minister Abe said that he wants to restart all nuclear power stations, which receive safety clearance by the new Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), and asks for these safety examinations to be completed within 3 years – however the NRA said, that 3 years is far to short to complete the safety assessment.

Given that any discussion about Japan’s energy mix, and “new” renewable energy (except for water power), liberalization and development of free energy markets were suppressed for many years in Japan, Japan now urgently needs to start innovating many components of the energy landscape including insulation and smart grids, and a new energy mix. PM Abe thinks that it will take about 10 years to settle on a new energy mix for Japan.

Japan trends for 2013: Japan is now waking up to innovation and changes of it’s energy and electricity sector

Japan’s electronics manufacturing sector is about as large as the economy of the Netherlands, but collectively showed no growth and lost money over the last 15 years, and therefore will either fade away, or very urgently needs new business models (see interview on BBC). PM Abe’s push for a lower YEN might soothe the symptoms a bit, but does not solve the fundamental problems. Hitachi’s “smart transformation” are steps in the right direction, but its really too early to tell – also “smart transformation” does not solve Japan’s traditionally low emphasis on software and other non-hard-ware-producing crafts.

Telecoms: Masayoshi Son, master of the midas touch and founder and master mind of SoftBank, acquired what was left of Vodafone-Japan and turned it around successfully within weeks, said reportedly: “I am a man – and want to be Number 1”. Now he aims to apply his midas touch to SPRINT. Expect more acquisitions by Son on the way to Number 1 in global telecoms.

Copyright 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Natural Gas, LNG

Japan natural gas import costs sky rocket

Japan switched 30% of total electricity generation from nuclear to LNG

Japan natural gas import replaces all nuclear energy

Japan switched about 30% of electricity capacity from nuclear to mainly natural gas powered thermal power stations within 13 months. We have analyzed Japan’s natural gas imports, which have skyrocketed to almost 2% of Japan’s GDP. Graphics and more details below in this newsletter. Find detailed analysis of Japan’s oil, coal and gas imports in report on Japan’s Electricity and Energy Landscape.

Japan's natural gas imports skyrocket
Japan’s natural gas imports skyrocket

Natural Gas (LPG and LNG) imports skyrocket to 2% of GDP

Since Financial Year 2010 (ended on March 31, 2011, a few days after the March 11 disaster) Japan’s natural gas imports have skyrocketed to almost 2% of GDP – while gas imports were around 0.5% or below of GDP until 2003.

There are two reasons for Japan’s skyrocketing payments for LNG imports

  1. increased import volumes to replace nuclear energy by LNG fired thermal power stations, and
  2. a “Japan premium” on the LNG prices, Japan has to pay above world market prices because of Japan’s special situation, and relatively weak bargaining position.
    Japan is of course under big financial pressure to reduce the payments for LNG imports.

Our report on Japan’s energy sector includes detailed analysis of Japan’s oil, gas and coal imports, and many other data on Japan’s energy and electricity sector, which we continuously update.

Copyright·©2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

Categories
Electricity Fukushima Daiichi Japan's energy sector Natural Gas, LNG nuclear Renewable energy

Japan’s energy foxtrot: Two steps forward one step back

Two steps forward one step back:

describes a frog struggling to climb out of a well, slipping back one step on the ladder for each two steps upwards out of the well

Before the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s energy policy, strategy and execution were essentially decided behind closed doors by a small group of (about 100) Japanese people, and while European countries, Canada, USA experimented with electricity liberalization, Japan’s electricity industry structure went unchanged for a very very long time with a rigid top-down structure. However with the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s energy landscape has been brought onto the world stage, catching global attention for the first time.

Two steps forward (actually much more than two steps): Last Friday, September 14, 2012, Japan’s Cabinet released Japan’s new “Innovative Energy and Environmental Strategy”. We have analyzed the full Japanese text of this strategy paper, and you can find a summary on pages 5-23 in our “Japan Electrical Energy Landscape” report.

Most English language press reports focus only on the first few pages which describe a plan to phase out nuclear energy in Japan over the next 30-40 years. However this Government paper contains many other policy measures to reform Japan’s electricity industry and to completely change the principles of Japan’s energy landscape – steps which are long overdue, and where Japan has fallen behind most other advanced countries, because pre-Fukushima, Japan’s electricity industry was functioning “too well” – although at very elevated prices (for detailed analysis, read our report).

The strategy plan announced on September 14, 2012 has not yet created any irreversible facts – although two irreversible facts could soon be implemented: the Government announced a few days ago, that 3 nuclear power reactors should be decommissioned under the new 40-year-limit-rule, Tsuruga’s No 1 reactor (started March 1970), and Mihama’s No. 1 (started Nov 1970) and No. 2 reactors (started July 1972).

One step back: Sept. 19, the Cabinet released a “Kakugikettei” (Cabinet Decision) which is 4 and 1/2 lines long, which says:

We will carry out our energy and environmental policy based on the “Innovative Energy and Environmental Strategy” as decided by the Energy and Environment Council on Sept 14, however we will hold responsible discussions with concerned self-governing regional bodies of Japan and with concerned international organizations, and we will continuously and flexibly verify and adjust our policy. (Kakugikettei, Cabinet decision of Sept 19, 2012, our unofficial translation from bureaucratic official complex Japanese into simplified English, attempting to keep the same meaning).

Note, that this “step back” is not uniquely Japanese: Sweden decided in the 1980s to go zero-nuclear with a Parliament approved schedule, and Sweden’s parliament reversed the earlier zero-nuclear decision, and went back to continue nuclear power in 2010 and renewing or building new nuclear power stations.

Subscribe to our report on Japan’s energy sector and receive regular updates.

Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Electricity Japan's energy sector Natural Gas, LNG Renewable energy

Japan’s new energy strategy: much more than nuclear exit

Japan’s Cabinet released Japan’s new “Innovative Energy and Environmental Strategy”

Japan’s new energy strategy

Last Friday, September 14, 2012, Japan’s Cabinet released Japan’s new “Innovative Energy and Environmental Strategy”, which the Cabinet is required to produce by law, and which actually contains much more than the plan to work towards a future nuclear power free society.

We have analyzed the full official “Innovative Energy and Environmental Strategy” in the original Japanese version, and we have prepared a 19 page English language summary which you can find on pages 5-23 of our “Japan Electrical Energy Landscape” report

Most English language press reports have focused on the three principles to work towards a nuclear free society

  1. strictly limit the operation of nuclear power plants to 40 years age
  2. restart those nuclear power plants, where the safety has been assured by the Nuclear Safety Commission
  3. no new construction or expansion of nuclear power stations

These principles – if maintained – may lead to the last nuclear power station in Japan to be switched off around 2052, ie about 40 years from now.

However, Japan’s new energy strategy framework paper contains much more

  • five policy packages concerning: the nuclear fuel cycle, human resources and technology development, cooperation with the global community, regional measures, the nuclear industry system and system for compensation of damages
  • measures for reducing electricity and energy consumption with targets until 2030 for two different economic growth scenarios
  • measures for promoting investment in renewable energy, with renewable energy generation targets until 2030
  • targets for electricity cogeneration until 2030
  • electricity power system reform, including unbundling of generation, transport and retail with the promotion of vibrant electricity markets
  • opening, strengthening and neutral electricity grid network, fair and accessible to all electricity producers
  • and most of all, a planned transition from passive electricity bill paying consumers to aware and active market participants who as much as possible generate their own electricity, and who instead of paying electricity bills, earn money from electricity they generate

In particular, the strategy plan states explicitly:

“…. it is indispensable, that electricity grid networks can be used by anyone, and to have competitive electricity markets”.

When trying to predict the far future, whether Japan will actually go completely non-nuclear or not, keep in mind that Sweden has decided to go non-nuclear in the 1980s, and has reversed this decision around 2010.

Currently only two of Japan’s remaining 50 nuclear reactors are in operation. It will be interesting to see if and when the safety of additional reactors are approved, and how rapidly the announcement dramatic deregulation and structural reform of Japan’s electricity system will be implemented, and how much of the announced policy steps might be reversed – or accelerated – by future Governments.

The strategy plan announced on September 14, 2012 has not yet created any irreversible facts.
Subscribe to our report series on Japan’s electricity industry landscape and our report on renewable energy in Japan.

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Electricity Japan's energy sector

Japan’s PM Noda hints at new energy policy: Phasing out nuclear power by the 2030s

Develop as soon as possible a society which does not rely on nuclear power

Eliminate nuclear power according to three principles

By law Japan’s government must prepare a national energy strategy plan. The currently valid plan provides for an increase of nuclear power from 30% to 50% and is vehemently opposed by public opinion following the Fukushima nuclear disaster and much loss of public trust in nuclear power in Japan – while at the same time many Japanese traditional industry leaders promote nuclear power as a necessity.

Decision on the new energy plan has been postponed, but is likely to be announced later this week. However, Japan’s public Radio and TV NHK reports, that Prime-Minister Noda yesterday at a Press Conference hinted at the content of the new energy policy plan. Some sources say that the new energy plan has already been approved by the cabinet.

NHK reports the following about Japan’s new energy policy

  • Develop as soon as possible (translated word by word from Japanese: “one day earlier than possible”) a society which does not rely on nuclear power
  • use all political means to enable zero nuclear power in the “2030s” (which might mean 2040 depending on the interpretation)
  • promote renewable energy in order to enable zero nuclear power
  • eliminate nuclear power according to three principles
    • no nuclear power station older then 40 years
    • restart only those nuclear power stations, for which safety has been approved by the Nuclear Safety Commission
    • no new power stations
  • operate nuclear power stations, for which the safety has been assured, as an important power source

We expect Japan’s new energy policy plan, which is required by law, to be announced later this week.

Regarding nuclear phase-out keep in mind that:

The Swedish Parliament in 1980 decided that no new nuclear power stations shall be built and that Sweden should complete shut-down of all nuclear power stations by 2010.
However, Sweden reversed nuclear phase-out, and on June 17, 2010, Swedish Parliament decided to replace the existing reactors with new nuclear reactors starting from January 1, 2011.

Therefore, if in the future Japan reverses the nuclear phase-out, Japan would not be the first country to do so.

Japan’s current nuclear near-shut down:

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster Japan effectively stopped nuclear power generation. There are no black-outs - how could Japan manage?
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster Japan effectively stopped nuclear power generation. There are no black-outs – how could Japan manage?

Detailed statistics, analysis and frequent updates – in our report on Japan’s energy sector.

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Electricity Japan's energy sector Natural Gas, LNG Renewable energy

Japan energy dilemma

Japanese law requires the government to have an energy strategy plan in place

Keep nuclear power off – or restart nuclear?

Japan’s current energy strategy plan provides for nuclear power to provide 30% of the electricity, rising to 50% in a few years by building additional nuclear power stations.

However, contrary to the current strategy plan the figure below shows, that Japan essentially switched off all nuclear power over the last year, with 2 exceptions.

A new energy strategy plan is delayed, but could be announced in the next few days. The Cabinet is in a dilemma to decide between the interests of the pro-nuclear business association Keidanren and the pro-nuclear electrical industry and considerable anti-nuclear movements in the general (voting) population.

One major problem is that Japan’s energy architecture and electricity industry is regulated by laws and regulations established in 1952. Essentially, Japan’s energy and electricity architecture has been frozen in 1952, and has not been changed until the Fukushima nuclear accident now forces change. The contribution of “new” renewable energy to Japan’s energy mix is so minute (except for water power), that it would be too small to be seen on the figures below. Our Japan-Energy report explains the major issues facing Japan’s energy architecture and its structure.

Japan’s energy peak is in summer (because energy consumption in Japan for air conditioning in summer is higher than for heating in winter), there were no black-outs, or brown-outs – how did Japan manage successfully despite the sudden unplanned exit from nuclear power? Read below…

How did Japan cope with the sudden exit from nuclear power?

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster Japan effectively stopped nuclear power generation. There are no black-outs - how could Japan manage?
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster Japan effectively stopped nuclear power generation. There are no black-outs – how could Japan manage?

Japan's survived by reducing summer peaks, and by increasing traditional caloric power production
Japan’s survived by reducing summer peaks, and by increasing traditional caloric power production

How did Japan cope with the sudden shut-down of nuclear power?

Japan’s peak power consumption is in summer, all nuclear power (with 2 exceptions) was switched off since this spring, and there were no black-outs, no brown-outs, and no major problems. How did Japan achieve this?

As the lower figure shows, traditional caloric energy production was increased by installing new power plants, and by bringing back old caloric power plants which had already been switched off, and by reducing the summer peak compared to recent years through energy savings. It has been estimated that the additional costs for imported fuel are on the order of US$ 40 billion.

Expect Japan’s new national energy strategy plan to be announced in the next few days.

Japan’s energy architecture is maybe a victim of its pre-Fukushima success: because Japan’s electricity supply was working so well, nobody felt motivated enough to change the existing monopolies, grid, energy mix, or to develop renewable energies. More in our Japan-energy report.

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Japan's energy sector Ludwig Boltzmann Symposia

4th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium Tokyo (Feb 20, 2012, Embassy of Austria)

Energy

4th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium on Energy in Tokyo. Speakers: Tatsuo Masuda, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Hideaki Watanabe, Robert Geller, Gerhard Fasol, Jonathan Dorfan

  • on Monday, 20th February 2012
  • 14:00 Welcome by Thomas Loidl, Chargé d’affaires ad interim of the Austrian Embassy
  • 14:10 Gerhard Fasol: today’s agenda”
  • 14:20 – 14:40 Tatsuo Masuda
    Professor at Nagoya University of Commerce and Business, served as Director of Oil Markets and Emergency Preparedness of IEA
    “New energy architecture for Japan”
  • 14:40 – 15:20 Kiyoshi Kurokawa (schedule permitting)
    Chairman of Japan’s Parliamentary Commission on the Fukushima Disaster, served as Special Cabinet Advisor on Science, Technology and Innovation
    “Fukushima crisis fueling the third opening of Japan”
  • 15:50 – 16:10 Hideaki Watanabe
    Corporate Vice-President, Nissan Motor Company, in charge of Electric Vehicles and Zero Emission Business
    “The new energy management supported by Electric Vehicles”
  • 16:10 – 16:30 Robert Geller
    Professor of Geophysics University of Tokyo, seismologist. First ever tenured non-Japanese faculty member at the University of Tokyo
    “Understanding earthquakes: let’s put the physics back into geophysics!”
  • 16:50 – 17:30 Gerhard Fasol
    Physicist. CEO of Eurotechnology Japan KK, served as Assoc Professor at Tokyo University and Lecturer at Cambridge University and Manager of Hitachi Cambridge R&D lab
    “Ludwig Boltzmann and the laws governing energy”
  • 17:30 – 17:50 Jonathan M Dorfan
    Particle physicist
    President, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, OIST. Served as Director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
    “New Solutions for Energy – OIST’s R&am;D Program”
  • Followed by reception (private, invitation only)

Registration: latest 15 February 2011
Further information:

Peter Storer, Minister for Cultural Affairs, Embassy of Austria

Summary

Tatsuo Masuda: “New energy architecture for Japan”

Tatsuo Masuda described how Japan’s energy strategy and policy was until recently determined more or less behind closed doors by a group of about 100 insiders, of which Tatsuo Masuda has been one. This situation could continue as long as nothing went wrong.

Atomic energy was introduced to Japan via the USA, and instead of growing nuclear technology over an extended period of time within Japan, policians decided on a very short time schedule, which made it impossible to develop nuclear technology within Japan, and left purchase of ready-made nuclear power-plants and adoption of nuclear power technology from the USA as the only option.

Tatsuo Masuda predicts the “democratization” of electrical power generation in Japan. While at present almost all electrical power in Japan is produced by regional monopoly companies, in the future a development is likely, where many organizations, corporations, and private citizens will take part, or even may take over the main task or producing electrical energy in Japan.

Hideaki Watanabe: “The new energy management supported by Electric Vehicles”

Hideki Watanabe explained Nissan’s Leaf electrical vehicle program, and the associated energy technologies and businesses. During the coffee break, participants studied a Lead car, and an animated discussion took place about advantages and disadvantages of electrical cars, and in particular the Lead with respect to cold weather performance and other extreme conditions

Mr Watanabe explained that the Leaf electric car is the center of an energy management system, where the battery of Leaf electric car is an integral part of the energy management of the owner’s household.

Robert Geller: “Understanding earthquakes: let’s put the physics back into geophysics!”

Robert Geller calls for an return to the principles of physics in understanding earth quakes and in preparing for future disasters, instead of following positions based on political or funding priorities.

Robert Geller for a long time has been arguing for the view, that the timing, location and strength of earthquakes cannot be predicted due to fundamental principles of physics, and the nature of the earth. Robert demonstrated his arguments by bending a pencil in front of us (see photos below). While the stress distribution and other details can be calculated with precision, it is not possible to predict the time and the way the pencil breaks with accuracy. Robert argues that in a similar way, earth quakes can also not be predicted, because earth quakes are essentially in the mathematical sense chaotic phenomena.

Robert explained how a group of earth scientists years ago promised that they could predict earth quakes with the purpose of obtaining politically motivated funding for their research. They were successful in obtaining continuous research funding with the explicit purpose of developing methods to predict earthquakes. Once this funding started flowing for many years now, it is very difficult for scientists obtaining this funding to put the possibility of earthquake prediction in question.

Robert also discussed official earth quake risk maps, and explained that many of the strongest earth quakes occur in areas which are officially designated as low risk areas.

Robert called for a reassessment of earth quake policies and preparations for future disasters, using the most up-to-date results of earth-science, and to review outdated positions, and abandon those positions, which have been shown to be invalid using established methods of physics.

Gerhard Fasol: “Ludwig Boltzmann and the laws governing energy”

Gerhard Fasol reviewed Ludwig Boltzmann’s life and work, and particular his life-long work on the fundamental laws of physics governing energy.

Jonathan M Dorfan: “New Solutions for Energy – OIST’s R&D Program”

Jonathan Dorfan introduced OIST, The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, which has just recently been accredited as a Graduate University by the Japanese Ministry of Education, and introduced several research programs in the field of energy generation.

Jonathan explained the history of OIST, and OIST’s pioneering position as an English speaking international Graduate University in Japan. In particular, OIST has no Departments which would create barriers between research groups, instead the emphasis is on cross-disciplinary cooperation supported by the latest instrumentats and research tools. According to Jonathan, OIST succeeds in attracting most outstanding staff and students – surprisingly current market conditions seem to make it easier to attract outstanding research staff than students – the market for attracting outstanding students seems to be more competitive than for research staff. OIST offers scholarships for students, many or all of which are graduates from top ranking undergraduate schools.

Photos

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Ludwig Boltzmann Symposia

Ludwig Boltzmann 100 years

On 5 September 1906 Ludwig Boltzmann died in Duano, Italy

Ludwig Boltzmann: 20 February 1844 – 5 September 1906

Ludwig Boltzmann (20 February 1844 – 5 September 1906) is our company’s founder’s great grandfather – and one of our company’s great inspiration. We are working hard to continue his tradition of innovation and excellence and diligent work.

Ludwig Boltzmann died exactly 100 years ago today, on September 5, 1906.

On the 170th Anniversary day of Ludwig Boltzmann’s birth, on February 20, 2014, a ceremony was held at the “Ples” Building (Duino no. 76), the building in which Boltzmann passed away on September 5, 1906, to unveil a commemorative plate. See details of the ceremony here.

Ludwig Boltzmann worked in many different areas and found the first explanations for many phenomena. He did not just create one single invention, but he created very many.

Boltzmann is best known for his work in gas theory: using complex mathematical tools, many of which he had developed himself, Boltbmann linked the macroscopic “Entropy” of gases with the microscopic forces between atoms and molecules in gases. “Entropy” was initially just a useful macroscopic concept similar to temperature and pressure of a gas developed during the early days of industrialization in England to optimize steam engines. Boltzmann showed that Entropy is a much much deeper fundamental concept, and showed how Entropy is related to the collissions between atoms and molecules in a gas and that Entropy expresses the probability that a body is found in a certain state.

In Boltzmann’s days, it was not generally accepted that atoms and molecules exist. Actually, in Vienna in those days, in order to survive socially, Boltzmann had to use very careful words: he usually did not say directly that he is convinced that atoms and molecules exist: he said that they are just a useful concept, whether they exist or not.

Ludwig Boltzmann was the last great classical physicist. He knew of several unexplained puzzles: Brown’s motion, the discrete spectra of atoms, curvature of space, but he could not explain them with the classical methods he mastered. Today Boltzmann’s methods, the Boltzmann constant, the Boltzmann Equation and much of his work is used every day in telecoms, information technology, electronics, chemical industry and many other areas.

Read more about Ludwig Boltzmann…

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