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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

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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

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Categories
Electricity Japan's energy sector

US$ 15 billion losses for Japan’s electricity sector continue

On April 30 Japan’s electricity operators announced their financial results for the financial year that ended on March 31.

Japan’s ten regional electricity operators again announced combined net losses in excess of US$ 15 billion for the Financial Year ending March 31, 2013, similar in size as the previous year: energy remains one of Japan’s most pressing problems.

Japan's electricity operators announce losses higher than US$ 15 billion
Japan’s electricity operators announce losses higher than US$ 15 billion. Source: https://www.eurotechnology.com/store/j_energy/

Losses continue

For Financial Year FY2010, which ended March 31, 2011 three weeks after the March 11, 2011 disaster, Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) already announced net losses in excess of US$ 10 billion as an immediate consequence of the nuclear disaster at their Fukushima nuclear power station. In FY2010 other electricity operators beyond TEPCO were not yet substantially affected.

In FY2011 (ending March 31, 2012) and FY2012 (ending March 31, 2013) all electricity operators (except Okinawa Electric Power Corporation) were directly affected by the stop of all except 2 of Japan’s nuclear power stations, and by the replacement of nuclear power with thermal power stations – mainly fired by LNG.

Currently all Japanese regional electricity operators, except Hokuriku Electric Power Corporation and Okinawa Electric Power Corporations show net losses.

These losses drive dramatic actions to reduce fuel cost, to introduce renewable energy, to introduce demand management and smart-grids, and liberalization of Japan’s electricity sector.

Net margins are negative for all but two electricity operators

Only Okinawa Electric Power Corporation (which operates no nuclear power stations and is not linked to any other region) continues to announce profits. Hokuriku Electric Power Corporation announced very small profits, while all other eight regional power companies show large negative margins.

All but two regional electricity operators announce losses
All but two regional electricity operators announce losses. Source: https://www.eurotechnology.com/store/j_energy/

Electricity revenues show no slow-down

Electricity revenue statistics show a striking slow-down as a consequence of the Lehman shock. No such slow-down occurred as a consequence of the March 11, 2011 Tohoku disaster. Partially of course revenue increases are due to price increases to offset increased fuel costs.

Unlike the Lehman shock, March 11, 2011 did not impact revenues
Unlike the Lehman shock, March 11, 2011 did not impact revenues. Source: https://www.eurotechnology.com/store/j_energy/

More details and analysis in our report on Japan’s energy sector

Read an article in The Economist, which is partly based on our input, and our reports.

Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
disruption Electricity Fukushima Daiichi

Financial instability of Japan’s electricity companies started in 2007

Financial instability of Japan’s electricity companies started long before the Fukushima nuclear accident

Japan’s electricity companies ran into financial instability long before the March 11, 2011 disaster

It is often assumed that the financial difficulties of Japan’s electricity companies are caused by the shut-down of almost all Japanese nuclear power stations within 13 months of the Fukushima disaster.

This newsletter shows that the financial impact of switching off Japan’s nuclear power stations does not seem to be the major contribution to the financial instability of Japan’s electricity companies.

However, this newsletter clearly proves that Japan’s electricity companies ran into financial instability long before the March 11, 2011 disaster and long before Japan’s nuclear power stations were switched off. The financial instability of Japan’s electricity companies seem to have started in 2004 – about 7 years before the Tohoku Earth-quake, as shown below. Therefore reform of Japan’s electricity industry sector is highly overdue.

Japan's electricity crisis predates the Fukushima disaster by several years
Japan’s electricity crisis predates the Fukushima disaster by several years. Source https://www.eurotechnology.com/store/j_energy/

Financial instability of Japan’s electricity companies started with the increase of natural gas payments in 2004

Japan’s electricity industry sector is dominated by 10 regional electricity operators, which to a large extent have the monopolies of electricity business in their regions. In exchange, their profits are calculated as a fixed percentage of costs. However, the figure above shows, that this system had become unstable around 2009 following a strong increase of natural gas costs since 2004. The figure above clearly shows that the net profits of Japan’s 10 regional electricity operators started a steady decline since 2007, and dropped firmly into the red in the financial year FY 2010, which ended on March 31, 2011, ie almost entirely before the Fukushima disaster, and about a year before nuclear power stations were switched off in Japan.
This argument shows, that the difficulties of Japan’s electricity sector are even more profound than the cut-off of nuclear power stations, and shows that reform of Japan’s electricity sector is long overdue. For details read our report on Japan’s electrical industry sector.

Financial trouble of Japan's electricity companies started before Fukushima
Financial trouble of Japan’s electricity companies started before Fukushima. Source https://www.eurotechnology.com/store/j_energy/

Financial instability of Japan’s 10 electricity operators started in FY2007 – several years earlier than the Fukushima nuclear disaster


This figure shows the combined annual net income of Japan’s 10 regional electricity operators for the period FY1999 – FY2011. The figure clearly shows, that combined net after-tax income was extremely stable until 2007, when net income started to drop dramatically, and has been falling ever since, culminating in combined net losses of over US$ 20 billion in FY2011. Losses are expected to increase even further for FY2012.

This figure clearly shows, that the financial instability of Japan’s electricity companies started several years earlier than the March 11, 2011 disaster and well before any nuclear power stations were switched off. More details in our report on Japan’s electricity and energy sector.

Copyright 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Electricity Natural Gas, LNG

Japan’s electricity industry suffers huge losses from nuclear to fossil switch

What is the financial impact of Japan’s switch from nuclear to fossil on Japan’s electricity industry?

Japan’s electricity operators switched from profits to huge losses

What is the financial impact of Japan’s switch from nuclear to fossil on Japan’s electricity industry?
Answer: Japan’s electricity operators switched from about US$ 10 billion/year combined net profits to US$ 20 billion/year losses – far more dramatic than the impact of the Lehman shock. – Selected graphics below in this blog, and detailed analysis in our report on Japan’s electricity and energy industry.

annual net income of Japan's electricity operators
annual net income of Japan’s electricity operators

Electricity operator losses may drive innovation

Losses are caused by high costs of fossil fuels and additional generation capacity brought online, and drive innovation, by forcing operators to look for new solutions to time-shift demand such as smart grids, and smart meters.

net margins of Japan's electricity operators
net margins of Japan’s electricity operators

Electricity sales revenues were affected much more by the Lehman shock than by switching from nuclear to fossil
The figure below shows combined sales revenues of Japan’s 10 regional electricity operators. Sales were strongly affected by the industrial downturn after the Lehman shock in September 2009, and have recovered since. There is no strong effect of the Fukushima disaster and nuclear -> fossil switch on electricity sales:

US$ 200 Billion/year = combined annual income of Japan's electricity operators
US$ 200 Billion/year = combined annual income of Japan’s electricity operators

Because Japan’s electricity operators have monopoly status in their regions, their financials are mainly affected by the economic status of their regions. All were affected dramatically on the sales side by the Lehman shock. This figure also shows that Japan’s electricity industry has been very static for many years. Japan’s Governments recent energy strategy provides for liberalization – executing this strategy will be the challenge.

More in our report on Japan’s electricity sector.

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M&A telecommunications

KDDI may partner with Poweredcom/TEPCO

Poweredcom has doubled investments in FTTH to YEN 44 Billion (US$ 0.4 Billion) for FY 2005/2006 from YEN 22 Billion in FY 2204/2005. (For details and analysis of Japan’s FTTH market read our report on Japan’s telecom sector).

Partnership with KDDI‘s triple-play leverages Poweredcom’s present and future FTTH investments.

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