Brit Liggett

Japan to Create a Nationwide Super Solar Array to Replace Push for Nuclear Power

by , 05/23/11

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The Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, is about to announce to the G8 Summit in France his country’s plans to mandate that all buildings come equipped with solar panels by 2030. The announcement of this mandate comes in the wake of the March 11th earthquake and ensuing tsunami that caused a major nuclear crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. This national solar array could help wean the country off of nuclear power and push them into a cleaner, safer future.

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Kan believes that this mandate will not only help Japan secure a clean energy future but will also help push the technology behind solar panels into a more efficient space. With more solar panels in demand, more cash will pour into the industry, creating room for more innovation. This massive solar push will also help bring down the costs of solar panels.

News is still pouring out of Japan about the failed nuclear power plant and the continuing struggle to gain control over it. While a group of scientists from the International Atomic Energy Agency touches down in Japan today to investigate the continuing crisis, this national solar announcement seems a great way for the country of Japan to look into a future that would be safe from nuclear emergencies.

Via DVICE

Second image by Isofoton.es

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10 Comments

  1. toshdzn June 1, 2011 at 11:52 am

    11oXA3 pbwyjogivklw

  2. Colonel May 31, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Hey, sutble must be your middle name. Great post!

  3. lazyreader May 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    What makes you think they’ll allow us to install solar panels or windmills.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mo2rMj8KVtQ

  4. lazyreader May 25, 2011 at 8:55 am

    My concern is cheap power for the third world. Obviously nuclear is too expensive and technically complicated for them. Ultimately, I don’t care where my electricity comes from or how it’s made. If I we’re a venture capitalist and you can invent an efficient engine that runs on stray cats, I’d be first in line. You know there overpopulated. I don’t care if Japan spends it’s money on a nationwide solar array. But since when does government ever make decisions that are wise. Politicians talk a lot about how much of your money they’re gonna invest in –insert bad idea here–. It’s the robust competition of free markets that provide us with better………everything. Private entrepreneurs would earn massive profits if they invent a cheap alternative energy device. Keep in mind government seldom if ever does anything right. A lot of proponents use that example….We put a man on the moon. How arrogant is that! It wasn’t NASA that built all that lunar hardware. It was private companies like Grumman and North American Aviation and Lockheed that designed and tested and built all that stuff. Now private enterprise is beginning to take over cheap space travel. I seldom trust the government to assess situations either.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g87GWZnFazc

    Government screws up nearly everything.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdXdQei5Bws
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fkXC5_lT_o
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YKkVIY9l0I
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rENganAflY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipL30Fa3nWY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xayN78vVTk

  5. risom.de May 25, 2011 at 7:10 am

    @lazyreader: That nuclear reactors are rated in produced thermal energy is obvious, after all that is what they produce. That doesn’t change my posted rule of thumb of continous electrical output = thermal rating/2. To be sure I just recalculated that for the most modern german reactor (Isar 2), which has an uptime of 92%/year: the continuous production is 57% of the termal rating (average over lifetime). And thats the best reactor in Germany, the average uptime is 82% for all 17 plants (see last column at http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_der_Kernreaktoren_in_Deutschland , first table).

    That conventional PV panels don’t work at night is obvious too, that’s why I did compare the averare continous electric production, which is about 1/10th of the Wpeak rating, to the continous production of a nuclear reactor. I’ve already written that. To be clear: That’s way more conservative than your stated “30-50 percent”. Assuming your 30-50% the numbers in your first post would have been wrong by 3000% to 5000%.

  6. ynthrepic May 24, 2011 at 11:03 am

    @lazyreader Sounds to be like you have little concern for the well-being of the planet; which doesn’t fit in to any free-market models for renewable energies.

    That said, I agree that clean renewable energies pale in comparison to the benefits of nuclear, and it will be nuclear that saves us, whether people like it or not. Still, we should be utilizing clean renewables wherever it’s realistic – for example solar is realistic in the middle-east and Africa. Tidal is realistic around many coastlines, as is wind. Geothermal too, is probably a really good idea in Japan if Earthquakes can be dealt with.

    Would you agree?

  7. lazyreader May 24, 2011 at 8:21 am

    @risom: Reactor energy production is in Megawatts/thermal, the efficiency of electricity production is slightly over 33 percent. Modern reactors are more efficient and can crank out a gigawatt of power or more. Second, reactor capacity factors often exceed 90 percent or past 100 percent. Calvert Cliffs station in Maryland set a world record for its reactors by operating 692 days non-stop. in 2008 it’s second unit set a world-record high of 101.37 percent in capacity factor. Older reactors can (and have) be upgraded. It’s not the reactor, it’s the generator and steam equipment that have been improved. Example: Columbia generating station in Washington state puts out 1,150 megawatts of power (9 percent of the states generation capacity), up originally from 900+ megawatts of power, having had it’s pipes, turbines, and generators replaced. Solar arrays require navigable gaps in between for humans to walk through for repairs, it’s not entirely seemless. Also the capacity factor for solar power often never exceeds 30-50 percent. Solar panels don’t work at NIGHT!!!!!!!!(That’s 8 hours wasted) They don’t work when a cloud rolls by or during a storm (sorry Seattle). The only way to compensate for low capacity factors is to build more solar panels. And when something only works for a third or half the time, you need two or three times as many arrays to take into account the loss in productivity and it’s all completely natural.

  8. risom.de May 24, 2011 at 6:49 am

    @lazyreader: care to elaborate on your numbers? You said “In order to replace just one nuclear reactor, you’d have to build tens of thousands of acres of solar panels.”
    Let’s do a quick calculation: One 1960′s reactor has a designed output of about 600MW, and continuously produces about half of that, 300MW. One square meter of photovoltaic modules produces about 150Wpeak, which translate to a continuous production of about 15W throughout the year. So, in order to replace one reactor you would need 20 million square meters, which is equals 2000 hectars or 5000 acres. You are off by a factor of 10 (assuming “tens of thousands” means 50000).

  9. eddieya May 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Offshore wind is the way to go in Japan!

  10. lazyreader May 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    In order to replace just one nuclear reactor, you’d have to build tens of thousands of acres of solar panels. In New York City, the building, 4 Times Square has solar panels integrated into the facade of the building. It only generates less than one half of one percent of the buildings power needs. So mandatory solar installations on multi-story highrises in Japan is of no consequence and will do little to supplement the power needs of their major cities. Now I agree nuclear has a long way to go to become economically self sufficient. I support free market power production without the need for subsidies. Even though the coal, oil, and gas industry get subsidies, but they could easily operate in a profitable fashion without it. Per capita wind and solar require far more and those business would close down or leave without the aid. Solar and wind industries have proved they can’t attract private capital that seek to make a profit, they’ve proven they cant be sustained without subsidies so they cant stand on their own two feet. You’re taking money for good economic growth elsewhere and pouring it into a place the markets would never select for economic growth.

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