Nuke news: Germany and Japan
Four major power companies warned that the post-Fukujima backlash against nuclear power in Germany country could result in future winter blackouts. These blackouts would ostensibly occur if Germany decides to decommission all its nuclear power stations.
The companies claim that solar and wind power could not meet demand in the case of insufficiently windy or sunny weather.
Chancellor Angela Merkel recently signaled she would support closing all of Germany’s 17 nuclear power stations by 2022.
Seven nuclear power stations have been off-grid ever since Merkel announced in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima disaster a “three-month moratorium” on her controversial decision last year to extend the lives of the plants.
So far the German grid has coped with the loss of these 7 plants. Germany notably still relies on coal for the largest share of its energy (42%) with nuclear supplying 22.3%, followed by renewables at 16.5% and natural gas at 13.6%.
Read more on that story in the Guardian.
Merkel may simply be trying to win back votes that are being lost to the Green Party, which historically beat her governing CDU coalition in local elections for the city-state of Bremen.
Meanwhile in Japan– the country most affecting German nuclear policy despite its being located across the globe – utility company Tepco confirmed meltdowns of two more reactors at Fukushima Daiichi power plant following the earthquake and resultant tsunami that rocked the north-east of the country on March 11th.
Tepco claims the melted fuel rods in these reactors were covered with water and did not reach dangerous temperatures.
Both the energy company and the Japanese government are receiving criticism over keeping this information from the public. Like Germany, Japan has backed away from nuclear power since the disaster and is looking more towards renewables, though not to the extent of its European counterpart.
From another article in the Guardian:
The prime minister, Naoto Kan, will unveil plans at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, to require all new buildings to be fitted with solar panels by 2030, the Nikkei business newspaper said.
According to the US Government Energy Information Administration, Japan is the 3rd larges consumer of nuclear energy. Data from 2008 details Japan’s energy use as follows: Oil 46%, coal 21%, natural gas 17%, nuclear 11%, hydro 3%, other renewables 1%.